I've been living it up in Miami and Miami Beach the past little whiles, having journeyed down here to visit my lovely and ever-patient boyfriend via Amtrak, stopping in NYC and DC along the way to see friends. (10-ish days in south Florida adds up to a large chunk of the month with long train rides at either end.) So, while there have been no posts here for a while, I wanted to send out a brief one lest my millions of loyal fans think this blog has gone the way of every other public writing outlet I have tried to establish over the years.
So, what I had initially wanted to write about was something positive--the first of my library critique photo essays, for which I have been gathering copious material over the past few months. My aim is to demonstrate that every library, no matter how tiny or how specialized, has amazing things to offer the public. Sadly, I'm going to have to proactively harsh that mellow with this post, as I came upon a library situation the other day that rather frustrated me.
The public library branch in Coconut Grove--an affluent, tourist-drenched suburb of Miami along opulent coastline--was closed on Friday afternoon. And the sign said it would be closed Sunday as well.
It upsets me that libraries find themselves having to close twice a week due to economic conditions. I can understand one day a week, but two is an awful lot and I hope it's only because of the economy that this, and other libraries in other communities, are closed that often. (Given my druthers, funding and staffing would be at adequate levels to open every library seven days a week without overworking anybody, but that's just me.)
What really bothers me, though, is the choice this library has made, or has had thrust upon it, of which days to be closed. The weekend is prime time for library visits, circulation, and programming, yet here two thirds of the weekend are out of commission. I can't help thinking that this isn't too much of a bother for the wealthy Floridians spending the summer in nearby gated communities such as the Cloisters (and how many of them do you think even use the library except for occasional ivory tower descents to check out genealogical info or have their new tablets explained to them?). However, not much farther up the road is a much more economically distressed part of the area that would probably benefit from having a library open when they're not at work and when their kids are not in school--and Saturday alone just doesn't cut it for me.
So, failburgers all around, I say. Not to pass too harsh judgment on this branch and its system, since I don't know what led to their decision to close those days--maybe they even determined that those days work for some reason--but it brings to mind the many hundreds of libraries making tough cutbacks in hours.
I'm curious--if your library (either where you work or where you visit) had to be closed two days a week, which do you feel would be optimum to avoid impacting access as much as possible? Or would you get creative? Me, I'd opt to close down altogether on Wednesdays, then shave hours from the early mornings and/or late evenings to make up the second day, which is what I think the library I volunteer at did. (The hour-shaving, not the Wednesday closing.)
However you shave it, losing out on prime temporal real estate does not seem like the best answer.