Monday, May 19, 2008

Aren't We Lucky?

Imagine that your relatives are visiting you and they come to the Merrimack Library to check their email and are told that they'll have to pay $5.00 to use the computer. Imagine that only the Rochester Public Library owns the book you want and we tell you there's a $5.00 up-front charge, whether or not the book actually gets here. Imagine late fines of 25 cents a day for books.

I've just been to the Dickinson Memorial Library, the Orange City branch of the Volusia County (FL) Library System, and this is exactly what I encountered. So much for printing out my boarding pass. Not worth $5.00. When I introduced myself to the Branch Librarian, Becky Curry, she explained the simple reason for the high fees: county budget cuts. All kinds of fees were hiked to keep taxes low. Vacant staff positions can't be filled. Interlibrary loan within the county remains free, but the $5.00 out-of-county fee has pretty much ended ILL from outside the system. That would be like GMILCS giving free ILL, but all borrowing outside GMILCS would carry a charge. At the 400+ ILLs we do from outside GMILCS each month, that would be pretty expensive for our patrons.

I understand what Ms. Curry is saying, I really do. Every year, libraries everywhere wrestle with providing the best service with the allotted tax dollars, and sometimes the librarians have to make some tough decisions. I can imagine that the citizens of Volusia County aren't too happy with the fee hikes, but at least service hours have remained the same. I guess we're pretty lucky that we're holding our own in NH. I'd certainly hate to have to tell people what I was told this morning. And I'd hate for you to have to hear it.

No comments: