Library Finances

Around the second page of Glen Holt’s editorial, “Getting beyond the pain: understanding and dealing with declining library funding” I went and looked at the publication date to confirm my suspicion that the article was written before the 2009 recession. Before. If the situation was this bad in 2005, then how is the situation now? Is it worse, or have our viewpoints and expectations changed? Holt paraphrases subject of John Buschman’s book, Dismantling the Public Sphere (2003), as this; cuts to funding are the result of a public that is beginning to think that public agencies, “can do more with less” (Holt, 189). This book was written a decade ago, during which time the global financial situation has worsened, what if libraries have turned public values on their head? What if, libraries have actually responded by defying expectations and doing just that, only on tighter budgets. Holt goes on to list the falling numbers of borrowers in UK libraries, but recent studies have shown that borrowers have increased since the recession, Dublin City Public Libraries have seen an 11% increase in visitors (S. Kelly and M. Leonard,  personal communication, 24 October 2013). Finally, Holt criticizes the ALA for viewing library funding as a mainly local issue, but libraries are constantly in the news now for being saved (or not) through crowd-sourcing methods; libraries are drawing on their own communities for assistance when their municipalities, nations, and other governing bodies are falling through. Overall, Holt’s editorial is very good as a snapshot of when times were better, even though we thought they were worse, at the time.