Libraries in peril, plus an upcoming tour

Recently, Nancy Lord wrote about our need for libraries.

Today, we direct you to an ADN Community Voices blogpost by Bill Sherwonit about the Anchorage public library system’s current challenges. Sherwonit says,

It’s not like local libraries and their staffs are living high on the hog. If the Daily News is correct and Sullivan’s proposed new budget passes, the city’s public library system will have lost 13 percent of its municipal funding in just two years. Since 2000, the staff of Anchorage’s public libraries has shrunk from 114 to 86 people, its librarians have fallen from 43 to 34. On the positive side, volunteers are way up, from 120 to 840 (though volunteer hours haven’t risen so dramatically). While money and staffing are down, both library visits and the variety of services are higher than ever. In short, Anchorage’s five public libraries are doing more with less. But that’s not sustainable, say library supporters. Anchorage’s library system is struggling to survive.

Sherwonit also wrote:
Before leaving (Loussac Library), I stopped and said hello to Special Collections Librarian Michael Catoggio, who will lead an “insider’s tour” of the Alaska Collection next Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m. (Those wishing to participate are asked to rendezvous at the main reference desk on level three.) It’s a tour I don’t want to miss.

A while back, Michael Catoggio wrote his own post for 49w: ‘I want to be your librarian.’ He really means it! We hope his tour is well-attended; it sounds like a great deal for writers and researchers.

2 thoughts on “Libraries in peril, plus an upcoming tour”

  1. Thanks for speaking up on this topic, Bill. Yesterday I caught snippets of a local radio show, where the host, a high school dropout, was suggesting tax payers would save money if high school libraries replaced the Loussac. If book lovers and library users don't remain vocal, we'll end up with folks who could care less about books (or for that matter, schools) dragging us a hundred years back.

  2. But how should the budget get trimmed?

    Libraries are practically sacred to me, but to be the devil's advocate for a moment, what then must we do? All departments are getting cut, taxes keep going up. It's a lousy situation.

    It may be that libraries are going to become like public radio – funded by people who know the true value of the thing. There must be something else to cut from the budget but what the bleep is it?

    In my experience, if you do the math for the bean counters and show them what to do, they'll often do it.

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