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What happens when your city can no longer afford it's libraries...

by fredo
on 11/8/2010 @ 8:28pm
Exit 133 posed some questions about the pending problems at the Tacoma City Libraries:

"The library board does not want to close branches, and surely it does not relish the thought of diminishing services. Even when the economy was thriving, local libraries faced seriously inclement circumstances and significant reduction in hours of operation. Do you have an idea that could be part of the solution? Do you value the Tacoma library system?"

Here's another situation where the expenditure is an absolute priority. It's not more important than reconciliation parks, than stamped concrete crosswalks, than digital billboards, than statues to almost notable Tacomans. But it's equally important and therefore a priority of the first order. All things coming before the Tacoma City Council are absolute priorities, otherwise they would not be coming before the council.

Here's my recommendation. Place a Redbox vending machine in front of every branch. Program it to accept city library cards. Fire all the librarians and close the libraries. This would provide about 90% of the services that people expect from the library. Problem solved.

by captiveyak on 11/8/2010 @ 8:34pm
off the record, i think the libraries are quite a bit more important than certain items you listed. In my personal opinion, they are as important as schools, utilities and mail delivery.

by fredo on 11/8/2010 @ 8:44pm
the libraries are quite a bit more important than certain items you listed. yak

And yet, the city spent money that could have saved our libraries on these less important items. Another item which apparently is more important than libraries, new furniture! As long as the mayor refuses to provide a list of priorities we are going to continue to lose that which people really hold dear.

by Jesse on 11/8/2010 @ 9:21pm
Within 10 years libraries will be obsolete.

by captiveyak on 11/8/2010 @ 9:26pm
Jesse - Libraries as recreational reading repositories may well become obsolete. But as archives or research bases, they will only increase in importance.

by NineInchNachos on 11/8/2010 @ 9:51pm
Libraries will never be obsolete. If the main branch falls under the shadow, all slack is lost. The Conspiracy wins.

by NineInchNachos on 11/8/2010 @ 9:52pm
Game Over, man, game over!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/8/2010 @ 11:16pm
Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.

Probably the library director in Federal Way gets a $500 a month car allowance.

by fredo on 11/9/2010 @ 6:53am
"Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries." crenshaw

If this is true Crenshaw, then why did the city council spend the money which could have kept all the branches open on stamped concrete sidewalks, reconciliation parks, & new furniture? These three items alone were more than $2,000,000, an amount sufficient to keep the libraries open. If the city had left our crosswalks alone, kept the old furniture, and reconfigured the reconciliation park as I recommeneded previously .... we could still have our libraries.

Why does the city council hate the libraries?

by smeall on 11/9/2010 @ 11:29am
to be clear, i am a huge lover of libraries. as a teen i would spend all day at the library. there is a big difference nowadays at the library. NO ONE IS READING. the modern city library has become a computer lab. librarians have become IT monitors for local middle schoolers.
i can't say what money should have been spent where...but i do think if the big wigs at the library spent more time reconstructing what "library" means in our modern times, they could be more RELEVANT and thus inspire citizens to take the kind of stand a bunch of medical mj supporters did. obviously the city does listen when people assemble. fact is, no one is motivated to get online & call their out-of-town library-lovers & rage in the streets tonight before the council mtg...

or are they??

by fredo on 11/9/2010 @ 11:39am
smeall, maybe a demonstration would have a positive impact. The fact remains that the city doesn't have funds to accomplish all the priorities that the citizens have asked for. It's time for citizens to tell the council what they are willing to live without.

by cisserosmiley on 11/9/2010 @ 11:52am
I can live without:
1) paid city council seats...we have a high paid professional city manager already, how about the council be drawn from lottery each week...20 names called from the jury pool...first 9 to show downtown vote that week new citizens...all for free!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/9/2010 @ 12:43pm
Most cities treat their libraries badly, even during the good times. That is not to say that the money received by the library couldn't be better spent. I don't think the head of custodians should be making over $90k a year. I don't think we need a director that has been there as long as she has been there. Time to bring in some cheaper but younger blood. Some hungry creative people. Part of the problem is you have people working at the library for 30 or more years. People making 20 bucks an hours because of longevity instead of productivity. The person that runs HR for the library, even though the city has their own HR dept makes $90k a year. This is insane. Books and facilities before over paid employees, particularly over paid redundant and non-productive employees.

by jenyum on 11/9/2010 @ 1:15pm

(Effinglibarian should use something other than the Drupal default theme.)

by NineInchNachos on 11/9/2010 @ 1:22pm
why do teens get a special area?


by fredo on 11/9/2010 @ 1:25pm
funny jen.

by fredo on 11/9/2010 @ 1:51pm
I'll confess that I don't know what the librarians make. I also don't know if some of the people at the library are actually "librarians" and some are just "library workers."

But I have visited the library many thousands of times and I do have an observation. Most of the work going on there is just routine clerical work that can be performed by minimum wage employees. The people at the counter are using a bar code scanner to generate invoices which match the card holder to a unique bar code associated with a particular circulation item. They use the same bar code scanner to check items back in. Then the items are re shelved. That's it! Are there actually trained librarians with masters degrees holed up in the bowels of the library helping academics research complicated sets of data? Possibly, but I doubt it.

by L.S.Erhardt on 11/9/2010 @ 2:30pm
We debate the usefulness of the Tacoma library, and as we speak the Seattle library is putting on a free show for kids starring a sex offender who was convicted of raping a child.

Sometimes I wonder when WA changed it's name to CrazyLand.

by NineInchNachos on 11/9/2010 @ 3:29pm
yes WTH are you talking about?

by Maria on 11/9/2010 @ 6:59pm
I'm not at the Tacoma libraries a lot, but the Pierce County library system seems busier than ever (even in the "digital" age). Taking off restrictions against food & drink, having more teen friendly events and materials, conducting a drive to get people cards, etc. seems to be working.

They haven't released the 2010 report yet, but last year's statistics show (from their website):

Website visits: 2008 1,549,299; 2009 2,556,507; 65% increase
Items checked out: 2008 6,616,850; 2009 7,865,324; 18% increase
Library visits: 2008 2,299,338; 2009 2,646,693; 15% increase
Number of card holders: 2008 212,831; 2009 240,629; 13% increase

The nature of libraries is changing. But physical locations to check out materials are still important. Most kids don't have Kindles or iPads. Most adults are still reading books on paper, even though we're getting more of our news and social engagement online.

The balance of taxation, revenue, services, wages, budgets is going to be tough this next few years. Less money = cuts in services, right? Is there any way around that?

by fredo on 11/9/2010 @ 7:27pm
Less money = cuts in services, right? Is there any way around that? Maria

As a matter of fact, there is a way around that. Reduce the amount we pay our library workers. That will give us funding for more services, more hours of operation, and more circulation materials. There are lots of people who would be happy to work at the library for minimum wage. Lots of propspective employees would love it as would the general public.

by Jesse on 11/9/2010 @ 7:29pm
Downtown Tacoma library = daytime homeless shelter.

by fredo on 11/9/2010 @ 8:05pm
do we need to hire people with Masters Degrees in Library Science to go around and wake up the bums?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/9/2010 @ 10:53pm
I believe that the bum waking is the domain of the security guards the library contracts with. fredo, you must be happy that the library is doing business with a local security guard company.

by fredo on 11/10/2010 @ 6:58am
I guess a private security guard would make less than a degreed librarian so that would be a good thing.

by panachronic on 11/10/2010 @ 9:45pm
Come on, Fredo, you know how this works. It's the same scam that King County Democrats just attempted to pull off with Prop. 1.

First, they fund all manner of boondoggles, designed to ensure the support of various patrons and cronies, and feather-bedding for the public employee unions.

Then they plead poor mouth because there's no money left to fund essential services like police, fire and now, libraries.

The next move is to present a tax increase to the voters, because without new revenue, y'all are just gonna have to make due with less.

It's really just a form of extortion.

by fredo on 11/10/2010 @ 10:14pm
panachronic you are so right.

this is the reason voters should insist that people running for office present a list of priorities in order of importance. If you don't have a list of priorities you have no guidance on how to spend your money. officeholders who don't have priorities are like hungry people who go grocery shopping without a shopping list. They just fund all sorts of stuff impulsively.

by fredo on 11/11/2010 @ 8:03am
"Do you have an idea that could be part of the solution?"

thread has been open for 72 hours, here's what I've got so far:

1. limit library to archive/research (Captiveyak)
2. Make library more relevant (smeall)
3. eliminate city council pay (cissero)
4. reduce pay to overpaid library workers (crenshaw)
5. remove food and drink prohibitions and make other accomodations for teenagers (maria)
6. turn DT library into a homeless shelter (jesse)

Some thoughtful comments there. Anybody else want to make a suggestion?

by captiveyak on 11/11/2010 @ 8:12am
i hate to say this - but what criteria are being used to select potential branches to close? If we look at those factors, does it make sense to close that branch rather than reduce service or pay at others? Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't.

by fredo on 11/11/2010 @ 8:32am
captiveyak@ i think the library issue was an agenda item for Nov. 9 but i didn't see the minutes of the meeting so i don't know if criteria for library closure has been introduced.

Holistic Forge Works used to publish a council meeting wrapup every Wednesday on FT but for some reason that's vanished. RR?

by captiveyak on 11/11/2010 @ 8:37am
The details must have been covered in the Council study session. I don't see any library discussion in our coverage of the meeting either. Unfortunately, we were not able to send anyone to the study session. I doubt that TNT did either.

by NineInchNachos on 11/11/2010 @ 8:40am
when a mommy and a daddy spend many nights together, sometimes a baby will come and when that happens kiss your evening of jovial screen capturing good bye.

by fredo on 11/11/2010 @ 8:43am
rr how about you post the screen shots and let the commenters provide suggested dialog?

by fredo on 11/11/2010 @ 8:57am
Here's a story that illustrates the problem that printed literature is going to face in the next few years. Do we really need expensive buildings and expensive librarians to warehouse the dusty relics of a bygone era? can't we just download our collections to an external hard drive and be done with it?

"What's black and white and read all over? Not the white pages, which is why regulators have begun granting telecommunications companies the go-ahead to stop mass-printing residential phone books, a musty fixture of Americans' kitchen counters, refrigerator tops and junk drawers." Seattle Times 11/11/10

Can you say, "the handwriting is on the wall?"

by Non Sequitur on 11/11/2010 @ 11:36am
Burn it.
Take a lesson from Caesar, we don't need no stinkin' libraries. They're a relic of the "enlightened age" of the bygone twentieth century. Libraries, the knowledge and culture contained within and the people who maintain it are obsolete. Twitter and Youtube are the new repositories of ageless wisdom and culture!
It's time we evolved into the modern era.
Fredo, you grab the torch, I'll create a distraction.


by captiveyak on 11/11/2010 @ 12:21pm
Non Sequitur -

Thank you for not letting me be the only one who was willing to make 1. a Roman connection and 2. a disparaging opinion of the value of the internet as knowledge base.

I was a bit less forceful, but still felt the connections were completely relevant.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/11/2010 @ 12:36pm
My take on electronic information- One well placed EMP and it's simply all gone.

(Conversely, we could suffer a paper plague such as in Stanislaw Lem's "Memoirs found in a bathtub")

by fredo on 11/11/2010 @ 1:11pm
The book publishers are moving as quickly as possible to all e-book publishing. I think I heard that Amazon is selling more ebooks than conventional books. Nobody is going to have to "burn" any books. There simply aren't going to be any books. New titles will increasingly be on e editions only. If we still have libraries in another 10 or 15 years they're just going to be teen hangouts with internet access and few library attendents explaining to the slow learners what the internet is.

by captiveyak on 11/11/2010 @ 1:59pm
you need to renew your subscription to "Cautious Optimism Monthly." Or maybe I'll buy it for you as a Christmas present. They have discounts this time of year...

by NineInchNachos on 11/11/2010 @ 2:09pm
TACOMIC book is available in ebook

by panachronic on 11/11/2010 @ 2:20pm
"My take on electronic information- One well placed EMP and it's simply all gone."

Good point, Jinx. We MUST keep the libraries, because if we suffer an EMP attack, we're going to need something to burn in our woodstoves.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/11/2010 @ 2:38pm
Burn the bookshelves, not the books. Books make better insulation!

by fredo on 11/11/2010 @ 3:11pm
those world book encyclopedias from 1962 might be helpful as ballast when Mayor Strickland tries to right our ship of state.

"cautious optimism monthly" heh thats good

by seejane on 11/11/2010 @ 3:13pm
T.E.A. Party Supremacy!
After all taxes are abolished (except Military tax of course) we won't have to pay for schools, libraries or even hospitals. After the last progressive is "re-educated" the Party will have total control of we proles and American Corporations will be great again.

I just hope that I get to be a "Lady" and not a surf. I don't cotton to thin potato gruel.

by The Jinxmedic on 11/11/2010 @ 3:49pm
I think you meant "serf". Not a whole lot of big wave action on Commencement Bay.

by NineInchNachos on 11/11/2010 @ 4:26pm
smurf ? there can be only one lady!

by seejane on 11/11/2010 @ 6:12pm
serf m'Lord (curtseying)

by L.S.Erhardt on 11/11/2010 @ 8:25pm

Have to ask, cui bono?
Who benefits? What does Fredo have to gain by championing the demise of the library? Does he own stock in Amazon?

by fredo on 11/11/2010 @ 8:41pm
a prediction sir not a prescription

by cisserosmiley on 11/11/2010 @ 11:22pm
we could save libraries by giving our city manager a 17% raise...

by panachronic on 11/11/2010 @ 11:37pm
Say, have we brought the library employees "up to market" yet? Do you suppose they would prefer to be "up to market," or "on the market"?

by fredo on 11/12/2010 @ 7:49am
I was a member of a labor union. The people pushing for increases are ususally the people with seniority. Regardless of how high the salaries go they aren't likely to lose their jobs. It's the people at the bottom for whom it's a dicey proposition.

good comments cissero and panachronic.