Thursday, October 22, 2009

The State of Things

A bit ago I rambled about the dire financial straits that Reading is in. Recently the first money saving pronouncement was made. It’s one that truly saddens me.

Reading has decided to withdraw support of the public library. This, along with funding cuts made by the state are causing all three branches along with the bookmobile to cease operation. The main library in the middle of downtown Reading is the only one that will remain.

This means 40% of total circulation will disappear. Programs such as ones that take books to senior high-rise apartment buildings have already vanished. Computer access for those who can’t afford them, those who go to the library to do job searches, will disappear. The ability for the remaining library staff to respond efficiently to the countywide inter-library loan system which has been circulating about 50,000 books a year, will be severely hindered. Branch closings mean a reduction in full time staff from 23 to 11 along with 5 part timers as well as hours cut for other part time employees.

Besides all that there’s the impact on people’s minds. The library being located downtown is a huge deterrent for some folks. It’s not in the best neighborhood and people simply won’t go there after dark. For now the main branch is still having Saturday hours, subject to change of course. A quick five minute drive to the branch will now become a planned outing for those who may be willing to venture into the city. Kids who used to stop in on their walk home from school won’t be able to in another few weeks. In my case, I will no longer be able to be impulsive and walk the block and a half to the branch as I used to do some evenings.

I do understand the economics of this decision but I just can’t help feeling it’s a very wrong choice.

1 comment:

Molly Daniels said...

You'll just have to get yourself a bus and distribute books to the kids, ala 'Bess the Book Lady' in Tampa. You'll be 'Barb the Book Lady':)