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Chilling effect

Cerquita in Durfort

This is a lovely cerquita in Durfort. It is a short walk from Gwen’s studio and home, La Cascade in France. It was peaceful walking along the footpaths. There was a sense of community and family that was comforting: notes and sentiments to loved ones graced many of the markers. There was also a sense of continuity; here were marked the accomplishments of the past-lives lived and appreciated. In the present, visitors respectfully tour the tiny cemetery and take their own thoughts away from the experience. Not creepy or morbid in the least.

What is chilling is this: although I have always believed libraries embody continuity, we are entering troubled times. The City of Camarillo has given the running of the public library to a private company. And so has the city of Santa Clarita. Troubling, yes. But what stung me, and continues to sting, are the remarks by chief executive, Frank Pezzanite of L.S.S.I., who believes the success of libraries is linked to a notion that they are “sacred,” despite librarian’s ability to “go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement.”  Pezzanite is out to trim the fat from libraries, and his company does this through cost cutting measures (so, just in case you are wondering, L.S.S.I. only contracts with cities for labor, so cost cutting measures = cutting employees – librarians, are you listening?)

Perhaps the good will of libraries (and librarans) is eroding. Many needs and not enough funding make for strident conversations about what is necessary, what is right. And while cost-cutting has become a familiar word, and might sound like sweet music to City Managers and Administrators, the overall goal of an educated populace, comprised of life-long learners poised to make decisions relevant and informed regarding their lives and the lives of others seems so . . .important, it just may be time for librarians to show others what they do. So, what’s an angst-ridden librarian to do? Two things: 1. Advocacy, and; 2. Visibility.

Categories: advocacy
  1. February 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    It’s like when the Bush administration wanted to cut the Weather Service last time- someone made the comment that the National Weather Service wasn’t needed, as “we could all get our weather from The Weather Channel now.”

    Like where they thought the Weather Channel was getting their weather….?

    You are right, librarians need to show what they do, and how it matters, and how the loss of libraries in past cultures has been devastating.

  2. Baba
    February 24, 2011 at 7:01 am

    This is devastating and in my view one more strike against children as well as librarians. You are the lifeblood of the written word. Way to speak up!

  3. March 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Meryl, I miss your blogging. Will I see you and Tim, possibly with champagne flutes, next month in San Diego? I hope so!

  4. April 25, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Meryl – Love the photograph, am indeed chilled by the content. You’re a wonderful writer. I’m hooked! Steve

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