FRIENDS OF NORTHERN WISCONSIN LIBRARIES

Saturday, May 05, 2007

RURAL LIBRARY SUSTAINABILITY


One of the mealtime conversations I had at the WAPL Spring Conference was with a couple of librarians from very small libraries in very small towns. They related a long laundry-list of problems encountered in village libraries that were indeed very daunting. They included things such as the Village administrator commandeering library fines to put in the village coffers to be dispensed at his discretion on his projects; nepotism and favoritism conducted by the Village administrator; constant change of library board members (in violation of state statutes), so they don't get too enamoured of the goals and objectives of the library; distrust of librarians because of having association with organizations outside the village; librarians getting denied approval to put a sign on their building stating that the site was a library; the library getting closed on election days because the library is the polling place; the librarian rarely getting approval to attend functions because she is the only library employee and in her absence the library has to shut down; failure to invite the librarian to meetings affecting the operation of her library; the fastest form of communication in the village being word of mouth; many in the village sharing much of the same DNA; etc. etc. The librarians can not get too militant on these issues because their jobs would be on the line.
Discussing potential solutions, certainly legal ones, things that would work in villages might well prove to be offensive or unworkable in large communities. There is definitely need for advocacy and selling the community on the library's worth and value to the village.
Despite the Gates Foundation and Web-Junction program, Rural Library Sustainability in some small communities depends upon much more than computers.

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2 Comments:

Blogger RUFUS said...

These problems have been around for quite a long while. If the library worker(s)doesn't think they will go away or can do nothing to make the situation better, then maybe they should find another job. Go work for someone that appreciates and respects them. I understand that we all need to "vent" about things that are really bothering us but then we need to get on with it. I agree that selling the community on the worth and value of your library is crucial to sustainability. That is what the Gates Foundation and WebJunction have been saying for a few years now.

12:11 PM  
Blogger John said...

The story indicates that the library board president and director have been signing inaccurate or even fraudulent annual reports. Had they left the third and fourth boxes unchecked on page 9 (thereby indicating that the board is not legally appointed, and that the board does not have exclusive control of funds), then a chain of events would unravel that might lead to reduction of system services or even eventual expulsion. Keeping their heads in the sand does not sustain good library service.

6:44 AM  

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