Libraries and the Economy – Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, libraries are very popular right now (did I really need to tell you that?).  Gerry Meek from the Calgary Public Library sees us as a recession sanctuary.   So is it time to start rethinking the way we do business? 

David Lee King’s done an interesting (and controversial, see the comments and thanks to Hazman Aziz for his comment for the Meek quote) post that addresses this point.  But the commenters bring up other issues that are important.  Janie H. addresses Bobbi Newman’s lament about lack of infrastructure.  Perhaps retrofitting old buildings so there are enough power outlets, good lighting, working spaces, equipment and software should be our number one priority.  Libraries’ success hasn’t been just about circulation for a long time now.  Consider this list of the most popular uses for library computers.  How would focussing on these change your budget priorities? 

We really are becoming the help center for our communities – we seem to be the one place where customer service isn’t exclusively available via an annoying phone tree or the web.  And look at Alex Zealand’s comment about a 24 hour library – should we slim down the number of staff per hour and increase the hours we’re open so we can be there longer with the same amount of people?  Lots of cross-training is happening now and at some libraries that even involves people in Technical Services.  If you trained them to work with the public too, then all staff could share the burden of working more nights and weekends.  Of course, this is only possible at larger libraries with more than a skeleton staff…

Or maybe we should forget about books and provide a service that everyone wants 😉


What do you think should be our priority in this year of high unemployment and an unpredictable stock market?

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