ASSOCIATES (2009, March, v. 15, no. 3)

Column

My View from the Back Room

carolb.gifCarol Borzyskowski
Library Associate II
Winona Public Library
Winona, MN 55987
carolb@selco.info
www.winona.lib.mn.us

What’s not to like?

Libraries, you gotta love them. I have been thinking about Wendee’s question: What is our favorite part of your job, and what is the worst. What do you really hate? I am being really honest here, I HATE sending out OCLC loans. Why? Because of the extra time and work. They have to be packaged and mailed, and then they have to go back or be returned. Plus, we don’t charge for it (and we are broke) so we have a set of people on some personal quests for obscure materials that I have to mail. Sorry, I really don’t want to hear what a wonderful service we are offering, I hate it!

That said, now what is my favorite part of the job? It is knowing that if I have a question or need certain information I can get it. I also like it when a patron says they are glad to see me. In fact, last week one gentleman that I have really enjoyed talking with over the years (with the big circulation counter between us) came in while I was upstairs at the reference desk. He smiled and walked all across the big room up to the desk, took my hand, and said it was so nice to see me. I sat there frozen as an ice fisherman’s hinney, and then he said, “You always smell so good, what is the perfume you wear?” I took my hand back, said it was nice to see him too, and replied “Obsession.” Now, wasn’t that fun? Who says working in a library is boring?

And I am glad to still be working with all the budget cuts and threats of more hanging over our heads. Our state is in financial trouble and needs to cut their budget. That problem starts the ole “trickle down” theory, and all the cities get to share in the pain. Our state of Minnesota had a program called Local Government Aid. That is money to state sends to cities to help them supply basic services to their residents. Basic services include the library, fire and police departs, park and recreation, the street department and so on. So when out LGA funds are cut we suffer, and the only way to get any money is to raise taxes, and when people are out of work and just hanging on, raising taxes is a really really bad idea. So, the budget is cut.

For this year, they took away our materials budget. We actually have a “Bucks for Books” donation jar at the Circ desk. I noticed there are even some bucks in it. We are going to have a concert, and a few more things planned. But, if we have another cut, and it looks likely, we will be cutting staff and hours.

The budget cuts leave all the departments fighting for a piece of a much smaller pie. When the choice is between police and fir or the library, guess who loses? We all do, really. An interesting way to look at essential vs. non-essential services is to think of them in the terms emergency and everyday. Which service is more important then? My heart says the library, but my brain says, gee, if my house is on fire would the reference librarian be able to put it out for me? It is an ugly issue; everyone is saying how important the basic services are to the community and nothing should be cut. But then, if nothing is cut, would citizens be willing to have their taxes doubled? All the cities that receive LGA funds are deluging the governor with pleas and facts of disaster if funds are cut. The bottom line is the money has to come from some where. I keep hoping the decision makers actually visit a library and do some research before they make a decision.

I love working in this library, I don’t love every single thing I do, I don’t love (or even like) every single citizen who comes in, but I know we offer a vital service to the community, and hope we can keep the lights on.

Thank you and good-night.

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