On library funding

I’ve been thinking about writing an editorial for our local social media outlet.  This is a little bit personal.  I’m starting with this blog – where I have an audience a little more attached to me – THAT’S YOU!!

I have a Master of Library Science degree.  Obtained in 1986.  With a specialty in Archives.  I served as a volunteer archivist for a number of years, but have not been directly employed in the library area for awhile. 

As I watch local libraries – whether public or institutional – I see a great change happening.  In the late 90’s a friend, who was a library IT person, predicted the decline of libraries as warehouses and book distribution centers.

That day is now here. 

I recently read a research paper presented at a conference in Alberta.  The arguments were well written and the logic backed by research,  Of the over 20 books and articles cited and researched, only four were actual bibliographic entries that would indicate a “paper copy”.  All the rest were obtained digitally.

As I was taking my library school studies 30 years ago, there was a tip of the iceberg visible in the distance.  We knew that information was valuable.  Accessibility would be the key.  Google soon stood as the symbol of just that accessibility.

Some were suggesting that libraries expand their mandates – from mere parts departments dispensing books to something else.  The gamut ran to providing reference librarians for expert searching, to storytelling and literacy campaigns, to provision of community meeting space, to provision of internet access, to . . .

Have we lost the pinpoint accuracy of the library’s mandate, or have we expanded to take on the greater social good?  Have libraries become social service centers or are libraries best at doing a more focused service of providing access to information?

I would dare to say that the answer to these question has dictated funding in the most recent Saskatchewan budget.

4 thoughts on “On library funding

  1. I love libraries ! And I love a book in my hand ! Maybe it is oldfashioned but it is much more comfortable than sitting at a oomputer ! Everything is changing, and much quicker to do many things now but sometimes I think it will come to the day when people are out of date and no longer needed.. Machines and technology are quicker but “cold”.

  2. Dell and I are very disappointed by the huge funding cuts and the resulting unemployment here in Saskatchewan. It happened so quickly. I can see the need for library services to greatly expand, but to lose services like inter-library loans is most discouraging to those of us who prefer reading books in hand to the monotony of scrolling on a screen.

  3. I too prefer the feel of a book in my hand to the print on the screen. I worry though, that
    our libraries, especially the small town ones, will dwindle and die in coming years. As I don’t personally use the library but purchase the books I read, I must say that I realize that I am not helping the cause much. A comment on the local radio station I heard this morning lamented the funding cuts and one of the solutions suggested to declining use of the libraries is to use them more. Not a bad idea.

  4. Thanks, all, for your thoughts. This is very much an area where we need to consider how our society is changing. And what part we will play in maintaining vibrant communities.

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