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Chilling effect

February 20, 2011 4 comments

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