Saturday, March 06, 2010

Budget Cuts Hit Library Hard

The Plainfield Public Library has had to curtail its hours and decrease staffing, following budget cuts imposed by the City Council.

Click here to see the new hours and other information.

My son has held a minimum wage job at the library for many years, but now has had his 20 hours cut to 15 per week. Given his income, the dollar amount is not much in the overall scheme of things, but it is still a blow, given that it is the only job that has worked out for him after various attempts at competitive employment.

I think I will encourage him to volunteer for a few hours, as that is how he got the job in the first place.

Also I bought T.C. Boyle's new book , "Wild Child," online because I really wanted to read it and it was not available in the library. So after I read it, I donated it to the library, to spare readers having to get interlibrary loans from other towns. I was pleased to see it today in the "New Books" stack.

I went to the library to print out obituaries for my Aunt Charlotte (my printer not having made it through the transition to the improved PC) and I found there is no longer a cover sheet for printouts. Nor is the monitor that shows Plainfield photos and postcards hooked up. One can see that the library is taking every step to save money.

However, when times are hard, the library traditionally becomes more valuable as a resource for job information, acquiring new skills, getting cheap or free entertainment and reading books one can't afford to buy.

Interestingly, Aunt Charlotte , the last member of my parents' generation, asked that donations in her memory be made to a library she valued in Statesboro, Ga. My son and I will do so, but we will also be thinking of our own library, in need at this time.

Good libraries have been a motif of our family history.

When we moved to Passaic Township (now Long Hill Township) many years ago, we found a library consisting largely of Reader's Digest Condensed Books and such. We immediately took out a library card with the Morris County Library and schlepped books back and forth, mainly for our daughter Audrey, for several years. Being a fast reader, Audrey often plowed through the books on the way home, but that was all right.

The point is, a good library is invaluable to a community. If you get a chance, read the PPL annual report online and consider all the groups this library serves. In the next budget go-round, the library must receive its due respect for what it provides - at least that's my opinion.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


The Plainfield Public Library is, in my humble opinion, the greatest resource and treasure we have in our entire city. It is a "destination" point. I understand that the budget is tight, but the library should be a higher priority. I would rather see the television station shut down. This is really going to hit folks hard--I am fortunate enough to have other choices. Some are not so fortunate. Sad.


8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Plainfield library is a jewel in a beleagured city. We have a wonderful resource, and people should not only become aware of the services they offer, but also do all they can to support it.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The town must accept that there needs to be cuts to all areas. For those who use a given resource there is always the feeling that it should be cut less than some other resource.
The answer would appear to be for the library to raise funds on their own. The Hospital always raised funds to help defray costs.
The management of the Library, dare I say it, has to think out of the box.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 6:57 pm: two points of clarification for you, since you clearly don't know much about the library.

One, the library raises quite a bit of money already--through the Friends of the Library, and through the grants that they write--the grants are the reason the library is able to be as good as it is. Where do you think all the new renovations came from? Not from the city government! So, they already raise a lot of money.

Two, the library isn't some bloated non-profit. It is a necessary service to the city. What happens if people cannot use the library when they get home from work? Or on weekends? As many people have mentioned, the library has taken more of a hit, proportionally speaking, than many other departments. The timeworn cliche of thinking "out of the box" is unhelpful. This is a distressing situation.

2:50 AM  

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