Posts filed under ‘Future of Libraries’
Posted by Robert J. Lackie
Libraries are increasingly essential in these tough economic times. People are flocking to our nation’s libraries for job and career information, small business research and e-government services as well as support for formal and informal education and lifelong learning. Congress made across-the-board cuts to federal programs in its FY2011 budget, and libraries fill the gaps made when other agencies and services. Unfortunately, libraries are also receiving federal budget cuts.
Even if you can’t make it to Washington for National Library Legislative Day on May 9, you can join us by contacting your representatives and senators during Virtual Legislative Day. Please contact your elected officials with the following requests:
- Fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $232 million, the level last authorized in December 2010;
- Preserve the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program with its own budget line and appropriate the program at its FY2010 level of $19.1 million;
- Maintain funding for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch at $2.9 million in order to preserve publication of “Statistical Abstracts” and other publications;
- Fund the Salaries and Expenses work of the Government Printing Office (GPO) at $42,173,000 to preserve public access through the FDLP and FedSYS.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (School Libraries):
- Support student performance by including an effective school library program as part of ESEA through the LEARN Act to include:
- A school library staffed by a state-certified school librarian;
- A school library with up-to-date books, materials, equipment, and technology, including broadband connectivity; and
- Instruction by librarians for students and staff on digital and computer literacy skills, including collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians to develop and implement the curriculum and other school reforms.
While these issues are the most urgent at this time, there are many other critical pieces of legislation impacting libraries. For full list of key issues that will be discussed at National Library Legislative Day, click here. ALA has also drafted issue briefs on the following areas: Access, Appropriations for Libraries, Broadband & Telecommunications, Copyright, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Government Services & Information, Surveillance & Privacy and the WILL Act
Visit http://capwiz.com/ala/issues/alert/?alertid=44989511&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] to learn more and send your congressman and senator a message.
by April Bunn
Is this some kind of nightmare? No, it’s really happening.
Our state is broke and they’re coming down hard on everyone, especially education to help make up much of the 2 billion dollar deficit. Our relationship with the state government is so bad that even our acting Commissioner of Education Rochelle Hendricks decided not to address teachers at last week’s NJEA convention, as has been tradition for years.
In my post a few months ago, I talked about the recent change of our title back to School Librarian. To quote myself, and where I was at the time, “I love my job, no matter what the name or the place is called. I pledge to continue to work as hard as I can to keep my board and community aware of what I am doing as Media Specialist, Librarian, or Teacher-Librarian in our Media Center, School Library, or Information Center.”
Now it’s early November and the budget cuts were beyond devastating
to schools and school libraries. Entire districts, like Woodbridge, lost their librarians.
It’s estimated that hundreds of positions were lost. My little one school district lost its librarian too. Yes, as a result of the mid-March enormous state aid cuts, my Board was put in the position of cutting almost $500,000 and my position and program were included in those cuts (along with teachers, a secretary, all the lunch aides and part of our basic skills program). Note: I still have a job because in addition to my School Librarian certification, I also have an Elementary Teacher certificate. So, I’ve transitioned to the 2nd grade classroom of one of my colleagues who was let go.
Our library program was strong and popular. Some of the current Board members had been active volunteers through the years.
Just some of the programs that will be lost with this decision:
A Weekly Book Club, held at lunchtime
Recess Library Assistants in 4th-6th grade
Six Flags Reading Club
Collaborative projects with tech, art, and language arts on subjects such as: endangered animals and alternative energy
Recess quiet reading/study area
Student book reviews
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race tracking
Award-winning books gallery
Reader’s advisory for emerging and reluctant readers up to voracious YA readers
Visits to the public library to promote membership and familiarity
What will happen to these libraries? In my school, classroom teachers are responsible for taking their classes to the library and allowing students to pick books. Parents in my community are volunteering to come and help with book re-shelving. While I’m always grateful for parent volunteers, they cannot replace a certified librarian. It’s a disgrace. The students will lose out in so many ways.
Pat Massey, past- President of NJASL, testified to Chairman Louis D. Greenwald and Members of the Assembly Budget Committee on March 25th, arguing that students need resource-rich school libraries that are staffed by state certified school librarians. The transcript can be found here.
I am sad and mostly angry at what happened here. To put salt in the wound, I am now Vice President of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) and am not even be doing the job while serving my term! I’ll work to advocate for the recall of these positions, but according my administration, we’re in this situation for a minimum of 4 years.
The outlook is bleak
I just saw a posting from a library school student on the YALSA listserv looking for a place to do her practicum in northern New Jersey and she is struggling to find a program that is still afloat. What does this mean for our award-winning MLIS/MLS programs that are producing excellent school librarians?
These budget cuts are far-reaching into the future of education. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is fighting the cuts in education, and local teacher associations are rallying to get the public’s support. Barbara Keshishian, president of the NJEA, the state’s 200,000-member teachers’ union, said in a statement that the proposed budget “is a disaster for public school children and for older students who want to further their education beyond high school … Gov. Christie is slashing education in order to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy.”
Working hard and advocating for our jobs is the most important thing we can do right now.
Keep advocating. Don’t give up. Tell your towns that cutting school libraries (and public libraries) is not an option.
Keep the faith that we’ll wake up and find out that this was all a bad dream.
Posted by Peter Bromberg
This week I came to the end of two wonderful chapters in my life.
First, this was my final week of employment at the South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative (SJRLC), where I have enjoyed working for the past nine years. And second, this is my final post at the Library Garden blog, where I have had the pleasure of writing for the past four years. Both departures are bittersweet, filled with sadness and loss, but also mixed with excitement for the what lies ahead. On Monday, August 2nd I will begin as Assistant Director at the Princeton Public Library, and at the same time I will launch a new blog at http://blog.peterbromberg.com.
I would like use this opportunity, my final post at LG, to do something that I have never done before. I am going to break my cardinal Library Garden blogging rule and write a post that is intended primarily for the New Jersey library community. If you are not a member of the NJ library community I encourage and invite you to read on, as the topic I’m about to address has broader implications for librarianship. But again, I am writing directly to you my NJ colleagues.
CONGRATULATIONS, I’M SORRY
Those of you in NJ know that we have just emerged from a partially successful four-month advocacy campaign to restore state funding for library services. In March we received devastating news that the Governor had slashed library funding 74% in his proposed budget, effectively putting an end to vital library services including delivery, interlibrary loan, shared full-text databases, and the New Jersey Library Network including the four Regional Library Cooperatives. In late June, after an advocacy campaign that generated tens of thousands of letters of support, we learned that much of the funding was restored, and many services would be saved. Unfortunately, as in other states (including Colorado, Massachusetts and Illinois), the Cooperative system — a system in place for nearly 25 years — is being downsized, as the State Librarian has made a decision to consolidate the four Cooperatives into one.
I have been approached by a number of people who have asked me to either write or co-write an article on the phenomena of merging and downsizing regional library cooperatives. We’ve seen a similar pattern with many former OCLC affiliates like Palinet and Solinet merging into Lyrasis. What is the impact of merging library cooperatives — of effectively de-regionalizing? Are regional library cooperatives even necessary in this day and age?
I’ve been pondering the requests to write about these questions over the past few weeks as I clean out my office, thinking about the different angles and struggling to clarify for myself the core questions to be explored. Part of my struggle is this: I place great personal value on transparency, dialogue, and fact-based decision making, and have been feeling a great deal of disappointment in not seeing those values honored or expressed to the extent I would have liked as the decision to consolidate the Cooperatives was made. It distressed me that a very important decision with far-reaching ramifications was made so quickly and with what I regarded as little input from the library community. (The State Librarian put together an Advisory Committee to advise on budget/spending priorities but the Committee was not asked to give input on the consolidation of the Regions– a decision that had been made before the Committee convened on July 6th.) I resisted writing anything because I was aware that my own disappointment in the process, and my very personal and emotional connection to the results of the process, were making it difficult for me to think clearly or objectively about the issues.
BRIDGING THE PAST AND THE FUTURE
For weeks I have struggled to get clarity on my mix of emotions, experience them, and release them, in an attempt to get to a place where I could reasonably address the broader topic of the value of libraries cooperatives in 2010 in a relatively dispassionate manner.
And then, a bit of providence.
As I cleaned my office, finding all manner of interesting artifacts, I came across this document, a record of a focus group convened for the State Librarian in 1992 to explore the challenges then facing the New Jersey Library Network, then only six years old. The questions got directly to the heart of the matter: Are Regional Library Cooperatives of value, and if so, how and to what degree? Seeing these questions and answers helped me get to the heart of my questions and my concerns.
What, in 2010, is the value of having a Cooperative system? With the consolidation of our Regional Cooperatives, something is gained and something is lost. Looking forward, it is important that the New Jersey library community have an open and informed dialogue that addresses our reduced resources, and determines which spending priorities will most benefit the libraries, and hence the library customers. With regard to the consolidation of the Regions, I think it would be fruitful to ask:
- What has been gained by consolidation, and how do we maximize those gains?
- What has been lost due to consolidation, and how do we mitigate those losses?
As I write this I am at a point in my life of great change. At this moment I stand at a personal and professional juncture between my past experiences, accomplishments, and failures, and my future challenges, struggles, and (hopefully) victories and successes. Perhaps it is because I am straddling this brief period of time, bridging what was and what is about to be, that I have a desire to build another bridge.
VALUE OF COOPERATIVE SERVICES: TAKE THE SURVEY! (open until Sept 15!)
The focus group document from 1992 provides a useful historical context for exploring the questions we are struggling with in 2010. In the interest of furthering the dialogue — the open dialogue I firmly believe we must have to make wise and fiscally sound decisions that will strengthen our libraries and our library community — I have created a survey modeled after the 1992 focus group. It is a bridge between then and now, between where we were and where we need to be. I invite all members of the NJ library community to participate in whole or in part. The direct survey link is: http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dG4zYmx1SEM1VGV4ZFFGdVBodHp4U1E6MQ. Note: Extended until Sept 15! the survey closes on August 9th.
There are 12 questions, and all are essay/short answer. You may be as brief or as detailed as the spirit moves. Answer one question, or answer all of them. I appreciate any and all feedback that you can provide. It is only by generating this information that we can begin to have an informed and productive discussion regarding the future of Cooperative service for NJ libraries, and the best use of our increasingly limited state resources. I will use the survey information to inform my future writings, and will also share the results with the State Advisory Committee, the State Library, Infolink, and the New Jersey library community.
It is of course difficult to discuss resource allocation without knowing what the resources are, so for your convenience I am providing links to the FY2010 and FY2011 budget allocations from the state:
- FY2010 Budget Allocation for NJ Library Services
- FY2011 Budget Allocation for NJ Library Services
- All State Advisory Committee (includes comparative budget data)
SO LONG, FAREWELL, AMEN
I’d like to conclude this post by thanking my co-writers at Library Garden, especially Janie Hermann and Robert Lackie who were instrumental in founding and building this blog along with me. It has been an honor to write with all of you. I value the relationships that we have formed and know that we will continue to enjoy many adventures together.
I would also like to thank my co-workers at SJRLC: Sandi Augello, Beth Cackowski, Anne Marie Hering, and most especially Karen Hyman who has offered so much support and wisdom and from whom I have learned so very much. You are all my family, and it has been an honor and a pleasure to work so closely with you.
Finally, I’d like to thank the readers of Library Garden for any eyeball time you’ve given my posts over the past four years. If you’ve enjoyed or been otherwise engaged by what you’ve read, please join me as I continue the conversation at blog.peterbromberg.com. And I will join you as I transition from Library Garden writer to faithful Library Garden reader.
Links to documents referenced
- Survey link (closes 9/15 closes 8/9)
- FY2010 NJ funding for libraries
- FY2011 NJ funding for libraries
- 1992 Focus Group
- Statewide Advisory Committee (with additional budget information) (pdf version)
by April Bunn
Times are rough for librarians in New Jersey. In the education world, librarian positions are being cut at an astronomical rate due to severe cuts in state aid.
I have been quiet here on Library Garden lately because I am part of the statistics- my position was cut- leaving our school without a librarian. I have been busy advocating for our positions with my teacher’s association and the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.
While I’m shocked at what happened to school budgets in the Garden State in such a short period of time, I’m finding a shimmer of hope in the cover story of the May issue of the New Jersey Education Assocation (NJEA) Review: Keeping Dewey relevant in the digital age: Why books still matter by East Hanover teacher and author Ralph Rabb.
Rabb argues that with our help, books, in their original printed form, will inspire literate, passionate readers. His primary concern is that students are doing their reading online and not picking up hard-copy text enough. The new term for all this online reading is called being “e-literate”.
I was immediately hooked into the article because Rabb describes one of my major reasons for loving libraries since I was very young- the SMELL of books- “It’s absolute olfactory heaven.” He calls libraries “temples built for the love of books” and suggests that teachers need to take their students on field trips to the great libraries, such as the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.
I take my youngest students each year on a trip to our public library and their excitement is contagious. And while my library is not a NYPL, it is still my temple and it’s still a baby. I’m extra sad to see it close* next year since I “built” it from scratch. The prior superintendent had a vision for the school that included a large library with an adjoining technology lab and they were dedicated in September of 2005. She’d be sad to see this happening.
*I said it was “closing” next year, which I consider the case, but my Board doesn’t see it that way- they think teachers taking their students down to “pick out books” and volunteers shelving books is keeping it alive. By the way, the technology department experienced no budget cuts.
I’m really upset by the recent proposed budget cuts in New Jersey that will reduce or remove internet access, databases, programming, and many more useful services from New Jersey Libraries. I’m upset that the new Administration finds certain things far more important than these services which have helped me to raise my children, become part of a community, and support my recent MA in Organizational Leadership. I’m upset that many of my friends in LibLand will lose their jobs, go without professional development, and have to divide already thin resources. With this development, I have revolution and revolt on the mind, and in our country, we have the right to speak out on that which we disagree with. My symbol for this is a bullhorn, a tool for rallying cries, to gather and direct people towards change, and to broadcast ideas and reminders about why we should be outraged.
In Inkscape, I built the bullhorn mostly via the Bezier tool. I added flames with the Bezier tool. I added a handle with the Bezier tool. I created the central horn with the Bezier tool. I created the trigger with the pencil tool. The piece of text is from the Showtime series The Wire, in which one of the main characters says “Heard?” in such a way as for it to be almost a half syllable, and it means essentially “Do you understand and comply; if not, we are going to have trouble.” Anyway, a fun sketch about a very serious topic for me. If you love your library, tell someone — shout it out.
Post by John LeMasney