Oh Fuck No

From today’s Publisher’s Lunch:

Big Library Cuts in Philadelphia
As municipalities across the country face large gaps in their budget, Philadelphia is taking “drastic new steps” to face the “economic storm” that include closing 11 of the 54 branch libraries that comprise the Free Library of Philadelphia. Three other branches will have Sunday hours eliminated. Mayor Michael Nutter said the branches were chosen “after careful review of building conditions, utilization and distance to other libraries in the Free Library system.” Cutting 220 jobs throughout the city government, approximately one third of those layoffs will come from the library staff.

That fucking sucks for fucking hard I’m having a difficult time coming up with a response more nuanced and apt than: “Oh, FUCK that.”

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Suze says:

    The economy is downturning!  People aren’t buying enough stuff!  I know, let’s LAY OFF a bunch of them, so that they’ll buy even less stuff!  That’ll be GREAT!

    Our entire economic system is stupid.

    And why can’t I get a spamword like men43 in a thread about, um, polyandry or something?

  2. 2
    Marsha says:

    Philadelphia’s never been able to manage a fiscal challenge well.  Given the waste and graft that’s ever-present in the License and Inspections and Transportation/Parking divisions I’m sure that getting those areas under control would have more than prevented branch closure.

    I’d bet my last donut that the branches being closed are going to be in areas where the customers won’t have ample options for getting to the next nearest branch or where the neighborhood schools don’t have internal libraries leaving those kids with no book borrowing options at all.  Making life harder for those with the fewest options, that’s how Philly rolls.

    progress25 – as if

  3. 3

    As a Philly girl, I’m also sad about this. But Mayor Nutter is an incredible man with a very difficult job.  He and all his senior staff took across the board pay cuts. Most of the municipal workers aside from police and fire are going on 5 days of forced furlough per year. City pools won’t open this summer. The art museum is taking huge cuts.  He did his best to spread the pain. It’s ugly, but it’s what’s coming. Let’s hope the private sector steps in…

  4. 4

    Oh…don’t even get me started on the parking authority.  The state of Pennsylvania takes all the Philly revenue from tickets.  And yes, it’s enough to solve a lot of problems. They’re supposed to give back to Philly schools…but it never quite works out that way.  Nutter is doing what he can.  It’s the folks in Harrisburg who are the problem…

    …I’m trying not to get any more political than that here….

    …deep breath….


  5. 5
    Brandy says:

    Our county library system just cut over $100, 000 from the library system in the aquisitions department. And said there are more cuts to come. *sigh*

  6. 6
    Linda Blowney says:

    My husband is a librarian with the Free Library of Philadelphia (Inter-Library Loan, in the Central Branch). This is going to be really bad – really, really bad. The libraries here are so much more than just houses full of books – they are true community centers, with kids staying there until their parents get out of work, older folks learning computer skills, literacy programs, etc., etc.

    Sigh. Work will be a lot harder for my honey-bunny in the next year.

  7. 7
    Jessa Slade says:

    It’s always terrible when a service that allows people to actually improve themselves gets cut.  Libraries are places where people can research jobs, study for exams, get free internet access to find jobs, learn more about the world, etc.  Libraries should get MORE money in an economic downturn.

  8. 8
    Jane O says:

    I remember when New York City was going broke, and they cut the library hours — by eliminating weekend and evening hours!
    When did they think people with jobs could get to the library?

  9. 9
    SonomaLass says:

    Wow, Philly libraries still had Sunday hours?  We lost those a while ago at most of our branches, along with most evening hours.  I think our main library is still open Sunday afternoons for a few hours, but it’s nothing like it used to be.  Our library system is a county service, and our counties have all been hit hard by the state’s money problems.  It’s still a fabulous library system, but they are definitely “doing more with less.”

    Our city just passed a citizen-sponsored sewer rate cut that it looks like we can’t afford, so we will lose some more city services (parks, pools, rec programs, and probably the city-owned performing arts center).  Police and fire are considered to be the main priorities, followed by roads, and things like arts and literacy take the biggest cuts.  I’m with you, Sarah, on the F word response.

  10. 10
    Teresa says:

    That is just so f****** short sighted. I mean, um, if people have LESS disposable income they’re going to need the library EVEN MORE! In Ottawa when the local government there tried this a few years ago, the protests were so vociferous they had to backtrack on almost all the closures they attempted.

    And where I’m working now, they’ve just ADDED Monday opening on a trial basis – it’s been a HUGE success, partly, I’m sure, because people still love to read even when they don’t have money to buy books. The library also serves as a place for those who can’t afford internet access at home. We don’t even charge for the 1st half hour, so if all you want to do is check email and respond to a couple, it’ll cost you NOTHING. You don’t even need a library membership.

    Libraries are the lifeblood of many communities, even those of big cities – they provide sooooo much in the way of entertainment, knowledge, community information and other resources, it just sickens me to see politicians who can’t see the forest for the trees and just hack of what appears to be the easiest branches.


    Rant over.

  11. 11
    Mary Lynn says:

    I don’t live in Philadelphia, but my comment is “ain’t that just fuckin’ typical.” Forget about the benefits to persons without the funds to purchase books, even a damn newspaper! Of course the city council did not cut their paychecks to assist, of course bloated city departments were not asked to make cuts across the board! This sounds like something the city of Chicago would pull… stayed tuned, we have our own problems looming – but hell let’s spend all the the money on promoting Olympics here! I have to stop ranting here before I lose it. In short I agree with you – “Oh FUCK that.”

  12. 12
    TSinPDX says:

    I grew up in Southern Oregon and recently found out that every library in a whole county had been closed entirely for over a year. I think they may re-open if a private company takes over, but I spent many happy hours in those libraries as a kid.

  13. 13
    Theresa Meyers says:

    TSinPDX, how far south, and which county were the libraries closed?  The DH and I grew up in Douglas Co. in the Roseburg area.

  14. 14
    Dani in NC says:

    I had the same response a couple years’ ago when several of our county’s library branches had their evening hours cut. I think a couple branches were closed, as well. The only good thing that came out of it was that they brought their computer services out of the dark ages. Now I can request books online and have my husband do a quick drive-by to pick them up a few minutes before our branch closes.

  15. 15
    Silver James says:

    Dang! That’s just….sad. Thankfully the Metro Library system here is hanging in and even has the funds to renovate some of the older branches.

  16. 16
    ev says:

    I love my local library. I don’t know what I would do without it. I stopped in today to pick up a bunch that I had ordered online, return some others and my daughter ordered a whole bunch. One of the librarians and I tend to share books- if it’s a new release and one of us gets it first, the other will read it and return it before the due date- it’s cheating, but it works. She is always showing me something new. I don’t know what I would do without the library.

    Now that I am no longer working at Border’s I am not buying as many books. I will save that for the ones I can’t borrow or the HC’s that I always buy.

    I think closing a library is the stupidest way to cut the budget. I hope that they at least combine the materials from the closed ones with the remaining libraries.

    I am sure that there are many a political apointee whose job could be cut. Here in NY we have a hiring freeze and over 10,000 people have been given a political appointment since then. And I sit here waiting on one of the lists that I was canvassed off of from several different departments.

    Government sucks.

  17. 17
    katiebabs says:

    This really depresses me 🙁

  18. 18
    Miri says:

    God! Books are the cheapest form of entertainment there is! And they last longer, and …and are just better period!

  19. 19
    Toka says:

    There goes my backup plan of being a librarian.

    My local libraries don’t have Sunday hours, but they don’t have fines either as long as you eventually returned your books. There are only 5 branches. I can imagine the above happening to them.

    My city’s librarys have longer hours, dozens of branches, and fines at every opportunity. Does anyone else have to pay for making reserves? But the sheer range and reach of these libraries (free manga!) make me brave the 80 cents reserve fee. It’s horrible, but didn’t these guys just think of raising fines and fees?

    However, being in Australia may have something to do with the above.

  20. 20
    Denni says:

    At least your local government is attempting to live within a budget.  OUR local library is excellent, extensive, open 7 days per week, and well funded.  Not just open, but major remodeling (not just old branches) & ordering custom made glass countertops for the check-out counter. I’ve no idea where the money is coming from b/c the state has a projected 4.5 B$ deficit in the works, and the county isn’t far behind. The governor increased state spending 30% in the last 3 1/2 years, and taxes across the board are way up.  Don’t get me wrong, I love libraries (mom was elem. school librarian)…but the only budget I know locally that is getting cut is parks/childrens programs and police (again).  Given the economic issues, I’d prefer to see a less luxurious library budget.

  21. 21
    Peaches says:

    Oh no! I hope they don’t close the one in East Falls, there’s not even a bookstore in that neighborhood to make up for it!

  22. 22
    Corrine says:

    I work in library services for an international book wholesaler, and I have to say that as of right now we aren’t seeing the affects of this, thank Jeebus. We might have a few accounts across the country that have cut back on ordering, but so far none have completely stopped.

    In fact, we’re so busy right now I’m working 50 hours a week and even that isn’t enough. It seems for every library facing fiscal challenges, there are two somewhere in the U.S. opening a new branch, so take what consolation you can from that. And that’s just for our company – we’re one of two large library service providers.

    I have to agree that the library is the last place any city needs to make cuts, especially since some forms of entertainment keep going up in price.

  23. 23
    Datagirl says:

    UGH! I admire the Philly libraries for some of the programs they’ve been able to come up with. In some respects this makes my blood boil, but in other respects, this comes as no surprise coming from what I’ve heard about their School Libraries. In order for the schools to save money, they’ll kill the school library before anything else (HELLO. I’d rather see the sports program hurting before arts, music, and library because the sports have parental support).

    I attended the PaLA (PA Library Association) Legislative Day at Harrisburg a few years back when the cuts were happening after a great few years of FINALLY being on par with everyone else. PA’s library budget generally sucks. The public library budget is lumped in with education and we only count for less than 5% of the whole budget. So, when the state needs to cut, where do they go first? A drop in the bucket. (As I understand it).

    We’re in an economic crisis and an indicator of that is library usage spikes. To see libraries closing and loosing extra hours, especially in the evenings and weekends is stupid. There are many people going to school and NEED those libraries to help them, so “the powers that be” helped help them by library closures? THIS IS NOT COOL.

    Though, on the other hand, how much of the community is going to protest this? Where my mom works, I don’t think the community really cares. They cared at their crisis a year ago, but only after support was drummed up by a guy who decided to run for an office later. If the library closes a few hours they’d be like, “Ok, I guess I’ll have to go somewhere else.” That library is the “friendliest” but there are two others 15 min. away. Where I work, I think there would be a riot, even with the hub not that far away. It all depends on the community and if the community doesn’t step up, this will happen. SO STEP UP!

    Well, I guess this’ll be the buzz at the Library Conference this week…Thanks for the heads up. [/end rant…]

  24. 24
    Sandy D. says:

    Wow. The economy in Michigan sucks (to say the least), but our local library just added Sunday afternoon hours. I love it. And them. And am so happy the library millage last year passed.

  25. 25
    TabbyLeona says:

    The harsh language is appropriate.  Who will be next?

  26. 26
    Claudia says:

    While San Francisco is blessed with many branches, I’ve always been disappointed at the hours. It really sucks that millions are being approved for branch renovations only to have the snazzy new buildings continue to close at 6 or 7pm on weeknights and a single open day, if that, on the weekend. Staffing is always neglected.

  27. 27
    Peaches says:

    maybe if Philly started ticketing everyone who parks on the sidewalk and in left turn lanes, they’d have more money

  28. 28
    Amy says:

    The worst (for me) part of hearing this is the historical “significance” of Philadelphia closing libraries. Benjamin Franklin, electrical dabbler, diplomat to the French, scribbler of poor man’s logic, founder of fire departments, was also the impetus of founding the FIRST free public library in America. It happened right there in Philadelphia.

    Woe is the world when in the city where things got started, it begins to fall apart.


  29. 29
    amy lane says:

    Dude—I live in California, where, as of Tuesday, Chickens officially have more human rights than humans. 

    My faith in the ability of the human race to mark and celebrate the things that make us human (like, say, our LITERATURE for the sweet sake of my foot up a politician’s ass!!!) has sunk to new and abysmal lows.

  30. 30

    How utterly sad.  Once again I bless the local folks who spearheaded a drive to create a separate tax district for our public libraries.  I was privileged to work with them, pushing the referendum forward in 1983.  Since that passed our library’s funding has been much more secure, and we’re growing and expanding services, even in tough times.

  31. 31
    ev says:

    Once again I bless the local folks who spearheaded a drive to create a separate tax district for our public libraries.

    that was a proposition on our ballot this year and it failed. Which is so very sad. I don’t think that people actually understood what it meant (other than a very small tax increase). I took the time to look it up and become educated about it. and voted yes. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.

  32. 32
    joykenn says:

    In the spirit of disclosure I must state that I’m not entirely neutral since I’m a medical librarian but I’m afraid that Philly (where I lived decades ago and loved) is just the first of many public libraries to see drastic budget cuts and closures.  In hard times the library should be one of the LAST places to cut.  People not only visit libraries for leisure reading but to hunt for a job, research purchases before they buy (since they can’t afford to make a mistake with a necessary purchase), read the magazines and newspapers they can’t afford to buy any longer to keep informed, to keep warm or cool when they can’t run their own heat or airconditioning, to get away from arguing overstressed parents, to meet their friends in a safe place, to use a computer cause they can’t afford one, etc. etc.  Libraries are MORE than just a place to check out a book.  It’s a safe, warm place in a cold hard world.  Lord knows many folks are going to need that even more in our present economy with almost a quarter of a million folks laid off.  Learn to type, to use a computer program, better literacy, about your health, about a lot of things you need to survive.  Libraries are our greatest treasures and should NOT be considered a luxury!

  33. 33
    Sally says:

    I have a lot of happy childhood memories from the Philadelphia public library system-this news makes me sad. 

    On a bright side, they just tried to close a public library in Hartford (the Mark Twain branch!).  I wasn’t following the politics of it closely but after some period of rather vigorous public protest it is open again.  Let’s hope something similar can happen in Philly.

  34. 34
    Sam says:

    This is very sad, but does not surprise me. I have worked for a public library for the last 13 years. I have noticed an increase in patrons including many who admit that they have lived here for years and it is their first time in (I can’t imagine…). We are run by the county and I sometimes feel that we are the red-headed stepchild they would love to see disappear. We are not looking at any reduction in hours or services yet. However, starting two paychecks from now my take home pay will be cut by around $50.00 a month unless I want to live without health insurance. That may not sound like much, but I may $9.00 an hour so yeah it kind of is.

  35. 35
    Dances With Books says:

    I agree with all the comments about the closings being short-sighted in a time when they are needed most. But, to a degree, and what is not mentioned, is that people don’t want to pay for libraries. I mean, if the mayor had said, “we can keep the branches open, but your property taxes or other have to go up,” how many people here (and elsewhere) would honestly say, “sure, libraries are important, and I am willing to put my money where my mouth is”? Not many. And that, is part of the problem as well. And no, paying taxes does not thrill me either, but I realize if you want services, they don’t pay for themselves (Contrary to what many people think). Sure, the economy is tanking, but historically we see that when economy tanks, good services that can actually help people (like the library) are the first to go, because heaven forbid we keep the stuff that can help people. And I am saying this as a librarian and a former adult literacy tutor.

  36. 36
    Randi says:

    Diana’s right. Nutter inherited a bad bad situation from Street. Street essentially took ALL the money that Rendell had accumulated for Philly, and pissed it all away on his friends. Philly had, under Street, the largest City Council in the history of Philadelphia, and they did NOTHING. So now, Nutter not only has to, somehow, make some money for the city, but has to fix streets, highways, bridges, etc and so forth. And these are not things he can put aside (like bridges, can’t wait another decade to fix those). In addition, the entire state’s water and sewage system is breaking down. So…yeah, I’m not happy about it either, but he’s in a tough spot. When he first got into office, he fired a lot of positions, cut down on the amount of money going into shady charities (like Street’s wife’s “charity” which was really just a paycheck for the whole family), hired a fantastic Chief of Police (because Street chased out Timoney during his first 6 months in office), and well, I could go on. I don’t think Nutter will let pools and libraries and other services go closed for too long, but he has some really important things that have to happen immediately, and no money in which to do it with.

  37. 37

    My new favorite quote: “I like paying taxes, with them I buy civilization.”—Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

  38. 38
    Jen says:

    Benjamin Franklin helped to found the Library Company of Philadelphia, it wasn’t free. Just for the record. 😉


    These cuts are really very sad, and will make access to information even more difficult for many people in Philly. Especially since the citywide wireless efforts have failed so miserably.

    Personally, I’m more concerned that no one is going to show up when I call 9-1-1, but I think libraries are definitely a symptom of an unhealthy municipality and I will fight to have services restored.

  39. 39
    Marsha says:

    Randi is so terribly right about Street’s impact on Phialdelphia.  His wife’s “charity” is such a joke and only one of a series of $100K+/year city jobs that she took in the government and then left after the public found out about them and the lack of hiring process (as in, the jobs were “special projects” created for her alone and for which no public posting was ever made). 

    Nutter’s got a tough road ahead in a tarnished office – I wish him the best and hope he can pull things together.

  40. 40
    Randi says:

    Just an update for you folks not in the Philly area, but there is big noise going on about the library closings. So maybe, this decision will reverse. Let’s hope so!

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