Jun 3rd, 2009
The Seattle Public Library system to close Aug. 31 through Sept. 7
The Seattle Public Library system will close Monday, Aug. 31 through Sunday, Sept. 6 due to citywide budget cuts. Please note Monday, Sept. 7 is the Labor Day holiday and all libraries will be closed. Regular Library operations will resume Tuesday, Sept. 8. press release here
While I don’t know all the deepest details here, I usually advocate for very thoughtful, strong, quick, dramatic action when forced into situations like this. And I believe that closing the web site is a great idea! That might not be a very popular stance to take, but it does makes good sense if handled properly.
There is no getting around that fact that the reality of these situations makes us feel a bit queasy, but this really is a rare and (hopefully) unique teaching opportunity. As budgets get trimmed all over the world, libraries are chipped at bit by bit. It has almost become a sad tradition of sorts for many library systems. And in these systems we work ourselves silly with fewer resources and less money while trying to not show how thinly stretched we are. We keep doing more with less until…one day we wake up to find that we don’t have things like effective methods of distributing the most popular electronic content available on the web through the library(see Netflix, Amazon and iTunes) or that we aren’t the platform considered most seriously as new display technologies become closer to ubiquitous (see iPhone and Kindle). And we can afford smaller budgets? Well, ok, but there is a cost…and we shouldn’t try to hide that cost from the communities we serve.
So when the SPL site is down I’d advise them to have their page go black expect for a one sentence (linked to the press release) “The SPL and all its branches are closed from **-** due to budget cuts.” Under that sentence I’d have a link that says something like: “When a library is open it returns $$$ value for every $ spent. Click here to read the facts.” and link to solid/scientific examples and proof of the value/ROI of the library being open.
I know its is easy for me to say this since I don’t work for SPL, but I think this is the right way to go. If you get cut, make sure people can see how it hurts them. WE don’t do ourselves any favors by glossing things over and if people clearly understood the costs they might just prevent things like this from happening to libraries in the first place.
But what do you think?