Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bulls Eye on Libraries in Bad Economy

Libraries of all sorts are under attack in our present economy. I think we've all known for years that when the going gets rough, Library services pay the price, but several recent events seem almost unprecedented. Consider:
I don't even care to guess what's happening to our friends in the public library sector. They were under tight guard before the economy tanked. I'm also not sure I find comfort in the fact other professions are facing similar problems.

Unfortunately in tight times, deadwood gets cleared. It's almost an excuse for decision makers to remove elements of the system they don't value or respect. That's not to say that all organizations are like the WSJ, but that's what Librarians & Library Techs are up against.

If there's ever been a point in time when clarity of library services must be addressed, it's now. Putting your skills to use outside of libraries is another option, and obviously the direction I've chosen personally; however, if you're staying to fight, and especially when you do have an employer that values your work -- I would say now is the time to re-prove your value. Even if it means re-inventing your services.

2009 is going to be a bad period for Libraries - all types of libraries. And not just because of the economy, but because some employers see our services (and profession for that matter) as deadwood. We can hold our breath for a library bailout, or... we can fire ourselves up and do something at a micro level.

My suggestion? Start today, because tomorrow just might bring a pink slip.

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Blogger Emma Durand-Wood said...

This morning I was dubbed the firm's resident PowerPoint guru. Seems simple and silly, but I think it's these little value-added extras that make us indispensable - and make management realise how valuable a tech-savvy librarian can be!

12:32 PM  
Blogger Wendy Reynolds said...

You're absolutely right, Steve. It's important that we think about the roles we can play in our organisations beyond "just sitting in the library". Team with your IT department (as Emma has suggested) - they're always busy. If you don't have an IT trainer, you may be able to fill the gap by finding the most frequent applications questions, and building cheat-sheets, offering lunch and learns, etc.
Find a new client group - have you got a solid alliance with your Marketing team? Law school alumni association? Firm alumni?
If you don't want to make as big a step as Steve has, there are lots of little ones which may help to save your job.

9:04 AM  

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