Increased Library Usage–Is Management Ready?

9 01 2009

The Librarian By Day makes some good points today in her post “Library usage will go up during a recession – management are you really prepared?” which is excerpted here:

“I’ve seen many news articles and video lately about usage of libraries increasing during a recession. I’ve personally noticed my library seems busier.  While many have celebrated the increase of use and the public attention we so rightly deserve, we also need to consider the down side.  Our funding might be cut, the public is less likely to approve bonds or tax levies to increase services, in some cases staff may be laid off.  Libraries are masters of doing more with less and we are really going to need that skill now.

The other side of recession is that it causes stress.  Patrons are likely to be less happy about paying their fines and, in general, be a little more on edge.  Staff are aware of the news and what is happening, even those who feel secure in their jobs, have family and friends who have been affected.  

So why am I asking management if they are ready?  All of this stress means an increase in irritable, angry, demanding, stressed out patrons who are rubbing up against your irritable, angry, tired, stressed out staff.  See where I’m going with this?…”

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One response

9 01 2009

I agree- the stress is on! There is no question that my library has been busier in the past three to four months, which is absolutely wonderful. However, we can’t meet demand adequately as it stands. We only have 6 internet ready PCs, and the majority of companies want people to apply for jobs online. Couple that with applying for unemployment (I’m in NJ, where you can only apply online or on the phone and the phone system is quite atrocious and impossible if you need to speak with a rep) and we already aren’t meeting demand. My phone is busier and the library is jammed during the day but we are only equipped with a one person reference desk. No hope of getting any extra help because we were already told that the budget was cut and absolutely no new positions would be funded in 2009. We will muddle through, but it is a horrible shame that we won’t be able to provide the level of service our customers deserve.

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