Library Service in Tough Economic Times

Things are a little crazy here in Charlotte. In case you haven’t heard we’ve had a gas shortage for over a week now. The pipeline that supplies this area was partially shut down, word got out, and chaos ensued as anyone with a vehicle (and gas cans) went to fill up.

What would have been a mild shortage has turned into a major headache as some people hoard gas while others cannot find gas to get to work, school, etc.

I was lucky enough to find gas this weekend but had to wait in line for an hour and watched as tempers flared.

Then today came word that one of the largest employers in our area, Wachovia, was bought by Citigroup. Charlotte is the headquarters for Wachovia and it is estimated that thousands of Wachovia employees will be laid off within the next year. I’m hearing from my online friends that the ripple effect is already being felt. Businesses who did contract work for Wachovia will be effected along with the people who provided services for those families–landscaping, house cleaning, retail, restaurants, and eventually the government will feel the affect from the huge loss of tax revenue.

Although the situation I’ve outlined is close to home for me, it is far from unique. Across the country there are similar stories of businesses and people in crisis. So what does this mean for libraries?

First and foremost people are unsure, scared, angry–stressed. Be empathetic. Be courteous. Be respectful. You have no idea what someone is going through.

If your library has a policy that prevents access to materials for customers who owe more than a certain amount in fines and fees, see what you can do to change this. In these tough financial times people need access to library materials and resources more than ever. The more people we can help find employment, the less people we will have on government assistance programs.

Realize that the economic challenges our country is facing effects your coworkers too. It is entirely possible that someone you work with is experiencing or has gone through bankruptcy or foreclosure on his or her home. Be extra kind to the colleague who is having a bad day.

In sum be kind to everyone. Be kind to yourself. That small act of kindness you show someone could make all the difference in a person’s day.

Get Your Game On: Quick Tips to Start a Gaming Program in Your Library

I am super excited about a 30-minute webinar that I’m moderating next month for the MaintainIT Project about gaming in libraries where I’ll interview library gaming goddess Beth Gallaway.

If you have a gaming program in your library please send me your tips for best practices to share. Likewise if you have questions that you’d like answered send those to me as well.

From the MaintainIT Project site:

Get Your Game On: Quick tips to start a gaming program

When: Thursday, October 16, 2008, 11:00 AM Pacific/2 PM Eastern

Where: WebJunction’s Wimba space

Who: Presented by Lori Reed, Employee Learning Coordinator at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg, and Beth Gallaway, Independent Library Trainer/Consultant.

What: 30-minute webinar where Cookbook contributors share their experiences.

Join Lori Reed, Employee Learning Coordinator at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg, as she interviews Beth Gallaway for “Get Your Game On: Quick Tips to Start a Gaming Program in Your Library.” This will be a fast-paced and interactive session introducing the idea of gaming programs in libraries. Hear what others have done, share your experiences, and think about what you might want to do in the future.

Take 30-minutes out of your day to learn from the experiences of others and get something started. This is a part of the MaintainIT Cookbook webinar series where contributors to the Cookbooks share their insights, their secrets, and what you can do to get started with projects like theirs.

Beth Gallaway was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2006 for her work in advocating for videogames in libraries. She is an independent library trainer/consultant specializing in gaming, technology, and youth services, and is a YALSA certified Serving the Underserved (SUS) trainer. Visit her website at