Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Money Woes and Bad Decisions

Times are tough and money is scarce. For every library system large and small, reprioritizing is a necessity.

I like to think this can be a good thing. I have this vision of folks in my library system coming together and discussing all our programs and ways of doing things and deciding, as a library system, what will best serve the needs of our community and our staff while staying within a greatly diminished budget.

And it would not be just Administration making these decisions - and not, for goodness' sake, one very powerful person or small group of persons - but rather people from all the different parts of the library. Administration, the coordinating offices, IT, and of course the librarians out in the branches would all be able to make their voices heard.

This is not what is happening in my library system.

We are not a progressive, democratic, or even communicative system at the best of times, and now these bad times are bringing out the worst. Decisions are being made right and left with NO input from branch staff or anyone but a very few powerful people in certain administrative positions. The favorite word currently is "no," with no rationale given for the decision.

Because staff members who might actually have some expertise or experience in these matters are not being consulted, the decisions are uninformed and therefore often problematic. Staff morale is suffering, but worse - service to our patrons is being diminished.

These days, reassessment, planning, and communication are more important than ever. When our library system reacts with fear and close-mindedness, staff and the public suffer - and the ramifications of these arbitrary decisions and lack of communication will continue for years to come.

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