Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Black border

Talking with my library colleagues.

Since the economic crash of 2007-08, we in the public libraries have increasingly been dealing with needy customers, unemployed, homeless, etc., who can no longer get government help at any level except through the Internet and email.

The public library is the ONLY walk-in, face-to-face social service agency left.

And now we are being dismantled.

As we learned last Thursday, of the 150 City employees being demoted or laid off for Fiscal Year 2012-13, 75 are in Jacksonville Public Library.

Several of the "survivors" have already announced retirement by the end of the fiscal year. A good number of the bright younger folks who were demoted—some after having promoted within just the past few years into key positions—are looking for jobs elsewhere. This Friday we will find out how the rest of us "civil servants" are being reshuffled among our different locations.

Across our nation, our governments seem not to understand or to care that breaking up long-established teams of skilled human service colleagues is far more expensive, in terms of the blow to productivity, corporate memory, morale and community relationships, than the payroll and benefits dollars they think their personnel cuts will save.

They do not seem to understand or to care how severely these cuts will hit the most vulnerable members of the community (see Digital Refugees), those who depend upon public libraries as their sole access to government services and employment resources, which have been pulled back across the "Internet moat" into the stronghold of the e-technology privileged.

Last public service agency standing...but for how long?


Diana said...

Its disheartening!

Walk into any public library any hour of the day- and it is packed.

Filled with people filling out forms for Medicare, Unemployment, Job Applications.

Filled with people learning new skills, information and more

Filled with people who will have no where else to turn.

Good Luck on Friday.

Mike Shell said...

Thanks, Diane

Anonymous said...

I am so deeply sorry. My own Melbourne Beach library has cut back hours, but i still mostly see the smiling faces behind the counter, albeit, less often as librarians rotate in and out on their shortened schedules.
if the libraries go, our opportunity for a more equal society goes down the tubes, too....
In the Light,

Mike Shell said...

Thanks, Lyn.

BT said...

Its a shame that such a critical sub-culture of professionals are being demoted or tossed aside. Librarians have a special set of skills that none of us "younger generation" possess what-so-ever... we will be sorry when we feel the void.

Mike Shell said...

Thanks for your comment, BT.

BTW, I like you piece about Chubbs the Akita. :-)