Monday, August 13, 2012

Finally, Some Good News Here

I am usually so discouraged by the local news that when I see something positive I like to grab onto it with both hands and dance around a little.

Two years ago, the Phoenix library system was experiencing severe budget cuts, along with everyone else, and they reduced their hours so much that you could barely find an open library.
Burton Barr Central Library, very retro-looking but built in the 90s. photo source
I felt badly for the librarians whose hours were cut and whose jobs were consolidated. In the age of instant access to information from any location, I think the role of the archivists and information experts has become even more important. Let’s not put any more librarians out of jobs, nor discourage any more students from becoming librarians!

interior, source
But it was the customers who were really hit hard by the library closures, even if it was only a matter of shorter hours. We have thousands of jobless and/or homeless people who use the library for daytime shelter from the heat, while spending their time constructively in online job searches, studying for classes, or just getting lost in a good book for a short while. We have thousands of immigrants who use the library services to learn English, contact family members, find jobs, or involve their children in reading groups. We have thousands of old-school (pun intended) students, like me, who want to pull every book on a subject, spread them out all over a table, and spend an entire day in research.
waiting for the doors to open, source
Phoenix needs its libraries!!!

Anyway, my little snippet of good news appeared last week, in a small article on an inside page of the paper. The libraries are expanding their hours again! Only a few of them, and only by six hours. Still, it’s extremely good news. The main library will open its doors earlier in the morning, while others will stay open later.
Here’s a bit of the article:
Bookworms and Internet users have residents and a faith-based organization to thank for the longer hours. Earlier this year, Valley Interfaith Project and several residents who support the libraries told the Phoenix City Council they were disappointed to see the city's budget proposal lacked additional funds to restore after-school programs and lengthen hours for swimming pools and libraries.

The city had reduced those services during the recession.

In response to the residents and advocates, city officials amended their proposed budget to spend $6 million more on public services, including $500,000 to extend hours for some of the libraries. The City Council supported the increase.


So it turns out that citizens actually can do something to improve their community! Maybe I should stop sitting in my room and whining. Maybe I should go talk to the City Council next time I have an issue.

Maybe.

Katrina

14 comments:

  1. Congrats on your good news! I love the library. It can take you so many places. I hope the hours continue to increase!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Good to know I'm not the only one who still uses real books!

      Delete
  2. We need some of this kind of good news over here. The libraries are just one area of our public services suffering massive cuts at the moment. The government has different priorities!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it's too bad how the ebb and flow of political tides have to have take such a toll on important services. Can't they just leave some things untouched, is my feeling.

      Delete
  3. I heard that Arizona has a surplus of budget now. Good to hear that the libraries are getting better. They are so desperately needed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh it's probably going to be a year-long fight to spend that money, too. Schools, healthcare, the poor, and everyone else will have to wait until the legislature gets tired of arguing. Ha!

      Delete
  4. What great news about your local libraries! I love the library the way that you do; sometimes research the old school way is the only way to do it.
    Thanks for sharing your joy!
    xoxo, Anita

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anita, welcome back! Yes, libraries have a special ambience (even brand new ones) that make you feel like getting down to some serious learning. Love the atmosphere.

      Delete
  5. Love your blog. I just discovered it and am a new follower. And yes, that is great news about the libraries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, it's so nice to have you here! I expect I'll be spending the next week or so reading through your blog, it looks as though we have a LOT in common!

      Delete
  6. Hooray! Victory! It's been saddening to hear about this kind of thing happening in communities all over the country. Nice to get some good news.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, to think that it used to be such a big deal to have even a few books that smaller communities waited for the Bookmobile to come around, and now it is considered so unimportant that huge libraries are threatened. I think that's why we get so excited when something positive happens!

      Delete
  7. Well first of all - that library is beautiful! Wow. We, as a society, need our libraries. It's practically where my kids grew up - I try out new books there, I often go to my local library to write. Just sitting with books surrounding me is a palpable energy. I'm so glad yours opened longer hours again. And you're so right that we have the best voice locally where we can make a difference. A good reminder to us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! There is a definite difference in the air at the library. Reminds me of the university atmosphere, although less intense.

      Delete