Friday, December 2, 2011
Relief That the Cuts to Library Services Weren't More Severe Demonstrate We Live in "Curious Times"
Chicago's neighborhood libraries in a bind. Cuts will slice hours, force higher-ups to shelve books instead of helping people. (Chicago Journal, 11/30/2011)
Excerpt: Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Local-31, which represents library workers, argued that the layoffs will overwhelm librarians.
“The demands placed on librarians to merely keep books on the shelves will sharply decrease the time and attention they can devote to helping patrons,” Lindall said.
“We saw the same two years ago, when Mayor Daley laid off more than 100 library employees,” Lindall added. “After trying to muddle through for three months, he cut branch hours by 16 a week because employees were burning out.”
CPL acknowledges the challenge ahead.
“Obviously having fewer staff means the remaining staff will have to pitch in and do more, wearing several hats as they help to shelve books, empty book drops and such — just as we did after the layoffs in 2009,” said Ruth Lednicer, director of marketing and press at CPL.
As for specific consequences, Lednicer said that there might be delay in processing transactions like holds and returning items to the shelves.
But while disappointing to CPL, AFSCME and patrons, the cuts are not surprising.
In fact, the political focus has not been on how these cuts will affect library branches like Roosevelt or Chinatown or Lozano in Pilsen, but that Emanuel did not make even greater reductions. An original budget proposal suggested trimming $11.3 million from the yearly budget and making 284 — instead of 184 — layoffs.