Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Newsletter from the American Library Association

Each week the ALA releases a newsletter, but today I got a "Special Tough Economy Issue"

Scrolling down, looking at the headlines, it starts to tell a story:

What would you tell President Obama?: What library issues are the most important for ALA members to share with the incoming administration?
ALA requests stimulus funding for libraries
Why federal funding matters to libraries
Contact Congress now
ALA releases tough economy toolkit
Seven ways the public library can help in a tough economy
House releases stimulus bill . . .
. . . but lacks aid to public libraries
State funding for public libraries on decline
Surge in library usage covered by national media
Folks are flocking to the library
The role of libraries in hard times
Recessions and their impact on libraries
The small public library survival guide
The quality library: In an environment of budget cuts and freezes, librarians must keep a tight rein on costs and inefficiencies.

Sounds rough. It's especially ironic that library budgets are being cut (including budgets at my library - in a bad way), and yet library usage is way up, and arguably more important now that it ever has been before. At my library, recent cuts include a big chunk of funding for our summer reading program, the annual Valentine's day ball has been scrapped, book-buying budgets have been cut (and halved for some sections), and my personal least favorite, the program that held free family movies every Friday night has ended. I've also been reading about library closings all over the country, especially in heavily populated areas.
Here's a link to my favorite article on the list, which talks about 7 big ways that libraries help in bad economic times. But if our funding continues to be cut, all that usefulness goes down the tubes. Keep libraries in mind when you're making your mental lists of economic crisis losses.

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