ASSOCIATES (2010, March, v. 16, no. 3)


My View from the Back Room Water Closet

carolb.gifCarol Borzyskowski
Library Associate II
Winona Public Library
Winona, MN 55987

Yes, my column title has changed. In my last column I said that after years of being in basement by the staff bathroom I have been moved upstairs to the Reference Department and into the old staff bathroom. It is great fun, and yes, it was remodeled back in 1987. So now it is an office and I can actually see people in the library and look out a window. I should mention the window is maybe 8” wide and five feet from the floor, but I can check the weather by the tree branch. So, I have moved up in the library world.

All my changes mirror what is going on in our local library, state, and nation. And I better not get any email jokes about everything going down the toilet!) Things are changing, the way information is delivered is changing, and we are all looking for new ways to keep the library an active part of the community.

The people of Winona love their library and it is used more and more. I am sure most libraries find they are busier in our current economic squeak. We are all looking for ways to deliver good service with less. Staff is taking on more duties, trying new methods for delivery and re-thinking core ideas like magazines and reference materials.

We decided to really cut down on our magazines. I can’t think of the last time someone used the Reader’s Guide to Periodicals. Who looks at ten year old news magazines? No one even browses the old National Geographic’s. We discontinued around fifteen titles, and really cut down in how long we keep them. Now we have more room up here, so we will be able to shift all the Large Print upstairs where they will be easier to reach and view for our patrons.

We are going to be saying good bye to most of our microfilm. We will keep the local paper and the census material, but Hot Rod Magazine from 1987? The use of the Internet and Info-trac has really changed magazine usage. Most middle- schoolers will never use anything else, and they are our future patrons.
Our reference librarian is slowly weeding the reference section behind the reference desk. It is killing her. As a non-librarian I look at that collection and wonder just what it is for and who the heck uses it anyway? I have had to use an actual reference book twice in my present memory. We have to make room for the materials that patrons are using now. Not indiscriminately tossing out old books but by careful weeding and usage statistics.

I have taken on special programming, by default it seems. Minnesota tax-payers actually voted to raise their taxes by .25% and have the money go into a special Legacy fund that is to be used for parks, wildlife, and the Arts. So now groups and artists are approaching the library to partner with them to get a grant to bring a special art event to South East Minnesota. I think this is great on so many levels. I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I am on the Winona Fine Arts Commission, but I am. So I am now involved on two fronts. So far we worked with St. Mary’s University and had a “Hobbit-nista” program that was fun. Funny little critters in costume were all over the place. In April we will be having a program to showcase the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca complete with actors reading his works, Spanish guitar Music and Flamenco dancing.

Money is short; taxes are high, or Minnesota’s case, not being raised so services are being cut. We are waiting for the next budget to be set for the state so the city knows how much money we will lose this year. We are a City funded library, with support from the county, but over 90% of our budget comes from the City of Winona.

To keep the library as a vital and important assert to the community, you have to strive to be current, safe, knowledgeable, user friendly, reliable, friendly, and respected. We won’t end up being just e-book readers for rent, down-loads, and the internet, we will still be real people serving, saving and sharing reliable information, but we do need to make a few shifts. We should all get paid a lot more than we do, even if we do love our jobs. (Sorry—just a bit of commentary)