Thursday, May 3, 2007

Saving Our Libraries

Library closure…

Don’t think it can happen to your small town library?

Don’t be so sure!

Libraries must be prepared because closure sometimes comes without notice. Library funding has been cut drastically within the last four years according to the ALA.

So what can you do if your library does close? The town of Hamden experienced a closure from June 2005 till June 2006. Community members held book swaps to demonstrate the community’s need for books. While they attempted to talk to town officials, that got them nowhere. They decided to hold an advertising campaign to keep the library on everyone’s minds; put out newsletters, hold events, plan fund raisers. Look into the possibility for partial corporate financing. Use your local cultural councils to help with funding. Maybe you can charge dues from your member. Or buy promotional items and give them away, it will pay off in the future.

Think out side the box!

Dracut library closed in 1992. The town experienced financial problems. The library was only given a month to attempt to stop the closure. The director was assured that the library would never close. They were wrong. The library closed. The doors were locked. The public were shocked. The act of actually closing the library had never been done before… Ultimately, it was a good thing. It woke up the community. They realized how necessary a library is for a community. Within six months enough money had been raised to reopen the library as a private entity (while they did not stay private very long). In 2002, another referendum went on the ballot. This one was to build a brand new library. And it passed at almost one hundred percent! The community refuses to have such a thing happen again. It seems like you don’t know what you have until you lose it.

How might we prevent this?

  • Develop a “Friends of the Library” committee
  • Pay attention to the children programming and have your cameras ready.
  • Stay involved politically but stay neutral
  • Establish relationships with the community
  • As a librarian do not take what happens is not about the library but about money

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