Before I start today let me just say that I really don’t want to turn this into a blog of political critique. I will go there though if it is Library related:
Via our pals over at the Kennebunk Free Library Blog we find this article from Thane Peterson at Business Week magazine critiquing Laura Bush’s level of involvement in Libraries. Public Libraries in particular are mentioned. I agree of course, but it seems a couple of things here are worth mentioning.
Firstly, Mrs. Bush was a school Librarian. Just as my first love is Public Libraries due to the understanding I have of them, I would imagine she feels inclined to support school Libraries more whole heartedly. In fact it is true and here is more proof. Naturally both Library types are indispensable though PL’s do serve more people in the community so if I had to choose…(not that we should have to!). I just want to know how a school Librarian came up with enough money for a Foundation? Har har!
Secondly, (and I really don’t want to turn this into a political debate on the merits of the current administration) on the Bush tip, not everything he does is evil. At least this isn’t. Frankly, federal budget issues tend to confuse me and I don’t know if this request went through. That’s what keeps most people uninformed on these issues, no? Anyone know if it went through? You know, even if it didn?t, imls is a very good federal organization we should know about as Librarians.
Thirdly, the best paragraph in the whole Business Week whole article is this one:
Another cause in desperate need of attention is one dear to the First Lady’s heart: America’s public libraries. As budgets are squeezed and the economy continues to lag, libraries around the country are shortening their hours and cutting back on staff. For instance, Binghamton, N.Y., not far from where I live, has had to close all four of its branch locations for lack of funding. Only the main library remains open. Many of the nation’s museums will also to have to shorten their hours if the economy doesn’t pick up soon. Sadly, the most important enforcing point along these lines is left out, that is: it is a fact that as the economy dips and Public Libraries are forced to cut back they are simultaneously getting busier. As the economy dips Public Library stats rise, just go ask a Librarian and they will tell you that.:
Librarians have long believed that when the economy goes down, public library use goes up. In February 2002, ALA contracted with the University of Illinois Library Research Center (LRC) to study library use over the last five years, at the twenty-five U.S. public libraries serving populations of 1 million or more. Using data from eighteen of those large libraries, the study found that circulation has increased significantly since March 2001, when the National Bureau of Economic Research pegged the beginning of the latest recession. -From a study summary on the ALA web site. Well, a google cached copy of the web site as the “new” ALA site still is *ahem* “lacking”.
Finally, I wish Laura would agreee with the the idea that lowering taxes isn’t the way to help Libraries because things like this end up happening. Then she could get the President to think about taxes differently. Maybe this blog will make it happen! Yeah, that would be great.