In 2007, I volunteered at the Beaman Library every week. The permanent staff invested a lot of training in me that year and I was able to do a lot for them; I shelved books, weeded the collection, fulfilled ILL requests, recorded stats for the state government, processed new weekly material acquisitions, entered holdings into the regional database and worked at the front desk. I also helped on a number of special projects.
And then I got a new job. With a horrendous commute. And long hours. And I stopped volunteering. Just like that. All those training hours lost. And the work left to do. And there was nothing the Director could do to manage the loss in the short-term except thank me for my service.
The West Boylston Selectmen and Town Administrator have called for reduced FY2010 budgets from each department to meet a significant revenue shortfall in the coming fiscal year. Our Administrator has stated that in spite of deep across-the-board cuts, there is no money for our public library. That seems pretty extreme to me.
Through working with other citizens to preserve our town library, I’ve been introduced to a series of dialogues about our town library as well as the role of libraries in the digital age. At the local level, some suggest we can operate our library with a volunteer workforce. At a broader level, some believe the availablity of content via the internet will render libraries obsolete. Others view our nations’ libraries as great forces for democracy. There are plenty of extremely interesting ideas about libraries out there, and I’ll explore many of them in this blog.