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Getting Slammed by the Local Rag…

July 23, 2008

Note: This is solely my opinion and not the opinion of my employer or Trisha and Jolene for that matter.

Yeah this post isn’t YA related but it is library related.  We’ve been slammed consecutively by our local rag both Monday and today.  You can view the articles here: Attendence at Hawaii Libraries Drop and Libraries Need to Shift How They Serve The Public. Granted I agree with our public service hours not being optimal, but who slams the public library?  Maybe we should run our public libraries more like a business like Gannett who owns The Honolulu Advertiser.  We could lay off a tenth of our staff and outsource our production to some non-local company like they do.  (Yes, I was being sarcastic.)

Seriously though, we are a public library system.  The only statewide public library system in the nation.  We have big libraries like the Hawaii State Library in downtown Honolulu as well as little libraries that service small communities on the neighbor islands.  In some cases the smaller libraries only have a 1/2 time employee and are only open a few days a week, but you know what?  They still have a presence in their community.  You take libraries away from people, you’re taking away information from people.  Are we just going to sit there and let big business run the way we think?  Or are we going to support public institutions which promote many points of view.  We aren’t here to compete with Blockbuster, Netflix, or Amazon we’re in the business of providing information needs at minimal cost–FREE.

We’re the generic version to any brand.  So when the editor wrote “Our public libraries must be rebranded, and quickly, if they are to remain a vital free service that the state truly needs” I say, steer clear of branding public institutions.  I don’t want to see “this book brought to you by Starbucks or Wal-Mart.”  Or something like Lauren Myracle’s ttfn brought to you by T-Mobile.  I’m in the business of helping people find and assess the information they seek.  We are a free vital service.  And I am reminded of this everyday when people ask me for help with the internet because they have no where else to turn and don’t know the difference between a left click and a cursor, when they ask for assistance on locating information, when they come in a just say “hi” because they know they’ll get a smile and a “hi” back.

Anyway I’m rambling now, but I just had to let out my little rant.  Just because.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2008 11:59 pm

    i agree that “re-branding” HSPLS is not the way the administrators should go. but some re-evaluation at the executive level is in need. some of the comments from the second article i agree with are shabby facilities, outdated materials, and inconvenient hours. not that any of this is in control of the librarians on the front line. management needs to step it up maybe.

    on the plus side, i see some awesome programs and displays and such in the branches. this is the way to go. try to make improvements where you can, where you do have control.

    still, the articles must have been totally discouraging while you all are trying to do your best. chin up guys!

  2. Jolene permalink*
    July 24, 2008 3:46 pm

    Oh I hear you Gayle! I was just as inflamed when reading the articles. However, I could see where the public is coming from. I agree we should have more public hours, online renewals, and free wifi, but all these things take money and that’s what HSPLS does not have. This is what the article failed to mention. Perhaps the mainland libraries got more funding thereby increasing quality of service making these libraries more appealing to the public. (Maybe compare it to New York State which has a comparable rate of living.) What they failed to mention is the discrepancy of budget between mainland library systems versus Hawaii. And I agree with Mona on that what we can focus on is our awesome programs and librarians who go the extra step in providing great service to the community!

  3. July 25, 2008 5:22 pm

    I agree with Jolene. I’ll be the first to say that we should be doing a lot more, but the article, editorial, and today’s letter to the editor (did you see it?) don’t acknowledge the challenges we face. But maybe it’ll be the motivation that will get changes made.

  4. July 29, 2008 12:51 pm

    Just want to pipe in that Rhode Island’s system is statewide too!

  5. August 1, 2008 1:37 pm

    Hey Hey!
    All of us here in the EAR were ticked too. But we were happy to see that RB was ready to respond. I didn’t see whether or not his response was ever printed. I’m assuming it wasn’t since no email notification went out. I agree that it’s frustrating that the public doesn’t understand, nor do they believe when you explain, what little control we have. But it sort of frightens me that their perceptions of the system may affect support for us in the future… ‘kay, I just bummed myself out.

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