Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Elephant in the Room



I really should be reviewing Shelley Freydont's Foul Play at the Fair today. Instead I'm going to discuss the elephant in the room. Why has my blog seemed sort of scattered lately?

I'm job hunting. And, many nights when I come home from work, when I'd rather be reading or working on my blog, I'm applying for jobs.

I warned my staff weeks ago that they should all start looking. There is a referendum on the November ballot in our town to repeal a sales tax that went into place in August. If that sales tax is repealed, the city has to come up with $25 million to cover the operating expenses for the next year. That means cutting city services.

Today, the staff and public saw for the first time a document I saw last Friday. Even when you know it's coming, it hurts to see it in print. The proposal going to Council tomorrow, along with other enormous cuts to make up $25 million, includes the recommendation that if the sales tax is repealed the two branches will be closed, the Main Library will be given over to an outside agency to run, and all 55 staff members in the system will be let go.

So, send good thoughts and prayers our way. What is a community without a library? For about twelve years, I've had a bumper sticker on my bulletin board, one I bought in Nashville. It says, "A city with a great library is a great city." I've always felt that way. I've given my heart to my library, to the community my library serves, to Authors @ The Teague.

If my blog isn't quite up to snuff, please forgive me. I still love my blog, and I'm passionate about sharing books with all of you. But, I'm trying to find another community to love. Anyone looking for a good supervisor, in whatever field? (I'm just terrific as a staff supervisor. Ask any of my staff over the years. And, I could probably bring an excellent publicist/writer with me.)

Oh, and an added note. I'm thinking outside the box.



I'm the one flexible person in the library system. I've lived and worked in Ohio, Washington, D.C., Florida and Arizona. There's nothing keeping me here, as Jim said when we left Florida. I don't HAVE to be a librarian, as much as I love it. I've done authors' programming. I'm the twitter manager for our library system, and I spend a great deal of time using social media. I will say, I'm an excellent supervisor and manager of staff. I'm just looking for another position with people who are as passionate about their job as I am, and as are all the staff I've worked with over the years.

Wish me luck!

46 comments:

Marleen said...

Lesa, I'm so sorry to hear this. You must be devastated.
Thankfully it hasn't come as far here in Ireland yet. Library opening hours have been cut and we're buying less and less (not standing order) titles, but we're still up and running and so far none of the staff has lost any of their contract hours. In fact, jobs are quite safe for another year or so thanks to a national agreement regarding public servants between the unions and the national government. What will happen once the term of that agreement is up is anyone's guess of course.
I have complete faith that you will find another job, one that suits your many talents and hopefully also accommodates your love for books and reading. People would be fools not to take you on. In the meantime, I'll be sending good vibes and positive thoughts your way.

Kay said...

Ah, Lesa, so that's it. I had wondered a bit. I am so very sorry and may I say that having seen your beautiful library with my own eyes, the tragedy is vast. I know how much well-run local libraries mean to a community and I also know that the patrons you serve are in great need of the various services the Velma Teague offers. Not the least of which is your fine staff and you, an excellent manager. I find it inconceivable that libraries are even considered for cuts when cities look for cost saving measures. They are important in so, so many ways.

So, best of luck in your job search and best of luck to your staff as well. I know that the perfect opportunity is out there for you. I also know how this rips at your heart. I'm keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers. Big hugs to you. I'm glad you are going home for a bit (that trip is still on, right?). Take care.

bermudaonion said...

Wow, I cannot imagine a community getting rid of their library staff and bringing in an outside agency to run it. How could they possibly know the library's patrons well enough to provide the services they need?

Rosemary Kaye said...

Lesa, I just wrote a long comment, pressed 'publish' - and it disappeared!

Anyway, I just wanted to say how saddened I am by your local council's short-sighted and philistine attitude, and to add my very best wishes to you for your job hunting.

Rosemary

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

So sorry to hear it, Lesa--sickening on both the micro (you) and macro (library) levels. Wishing you the best on your job hunt.

Vicki Delany said...

Simply impossible to explain how short-sighted this sort of thing is. People are going to lose the heart of their communities to save a nickle on a big of chips. Libraries are under attack everyone, and one has to ask 'que bono'. Who benefits? Why now? As you know, Lesa, we fought for our libraries here in Prince Edward County, Ontario (and they were only going to close 3 of the 6) and we won!

Lesa said...

Thank you so much, everyone. Yes. You're right. It does sicken me to see what is happening to libraries. I hope everything continues to work out in Ireland, Marleen. Kay, you're right. I just didn't feel I could say too much earlier. But, one of my co-workers asked yesterday if I was going to address it now that it was public, and I said yes. And, you're darn right that trip home is still on. Some of the authors at Bouchercon say they "ALL" need to buy me a drink. Dr. Pepper, anyone? Kathy, there is one company nationally that comes in and takes over libraries, and the city had already been looking at them. However, they've not really even spoken to staff. They did a "Secret Shopper" visit last spring. And, you're right. They don't know the community like we do. They've never operated a library in Arizona. Yay, for being first. (NOT) Rosemary, you expressed it beautifully - "short-sighted and a philistine attitude". I'm sorry your message didn't come through, though. I would have liked to have read it. Thank you, Elizabeth. And, thank you everyone for your thoughts and hopes for the future.

Vicki Delany said...

How close is this referendum to being passed anyway? Maybe it will be defeated? In that case the libraries will stay, won't they?

Lesa said...

Vicki,

The libraries will stay for now, but the city will still be short of operating money, and they're still going to look to outsource them somehow. It just won't be quite so soon. As much as I love Velma Teague, my job there, my staff, and everyone I work with, it's time for me to look for something else I can love just as much.

SandyG265 said...

Sorry to hear that Lessa. I can't imagine not having a library in town. My boyfriend and I go there several times a week and know most of the librarians. They are really great if we have a question or need help with an inter library loan request. And since they know what we like to read they will let us know when something new comes out that we might like.

Best of luck with your job search.

Joe Barone said...

That is the pits! Hopefully your contacts through your work and this blog will help you find an even better job. You are good at what you do!

Beth Blakesley said...

That is stunningly bad news, on so many levels. An outside agency? What does that even mean?

I hope your job search goes well, Lesa. I'll keep an eye out for anything interesting :-)

Judy Starbuck said...

Lesa, I just can't imagine not having you here in the Valley with us, your Sisters in Crime. We've all become such close friends. My day begins with your blog and your reviews of books and signings. You are so special and I selfishly hope and pray that you can stay here. Libraries are the heart of a community. When we go to our nearby library every Sunday, there is always a long line waiting for it to open. I hope the voters in Glendale come around, but if you leave, they've lost the best!

Lois Winston said...

Lesa, here's hoping people come to their senses and do the right thing. Everyone wants services, but no one wants to pay for them. Life doesn't work that way, and shutting down libraries to balance the budget isn't the way to go.

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

Ugh I'm sooo sorry! I know how passionate you are about your job & this outright sucks! Crossing my fingers for you.

Lesa said...

Thank you, everyone. We have three wonderful libraries here in Glendale, and eight years ago when I moved here, they were one of the shining stars of the entire state. I love my branch. It's the downtown library, serving so many people who have no other access to computers, no transportation to get to any of the other libraries, and no money to spend on entertainment other than the free books, dvds and cds we provide. In addition, my branch is the anchor for the downtown community, and the businesses will suffer if we close. It's the saddest moment of my career, and I've been working in libraries since I was sixteen.

Lesa said...

To answer your question, Beth, an "outside agency" means LSSI, a private corporation that comes in, and, for a management fee, operates libraries in order to make a profit, or it means Maricopa County, who would again, want a management fee as well as asking the city to upgrade all our computers to match theirs before they take over. Again, a hefty cost to the city, but the city would no longer have to foot the bill for staff salaries and benefits.

Lesa said...

Judy,

I don't want to leave. I love all my friends here, the Poisoned Pen, the authors I bring into the libraries. But, there's just nothing open at the present time, so I'm looking nationwide. We'll see what happens.

Lesa said...

Joe,

Thank you. I will continue to blog, and do that because I love it. I love that people tell me they "have coffee with me" in the morning. My blog is just a little up and down right now when I have to fill out job applications in the evening. I'll keep this, though. It's my way of sharing books. But, you're also right. I am good at what I do, and I'm going to hate moving on.

Anonymous said...

Lesa, I'm so sorry to hear this. There is no doubt libraries are under attack in these hard times. We saved ours a few years ago by having the fundraising aux take over some payments to the library and the city paying the rest (It's an LA County library). So we're operating for the moment. [fingers crossed]

Best wishes to you in your job search. With everything you can bring to the job, I know you'll end up with a great position.

Judith

Wendy said...

This stinks, Lesa. I feel bad for the community, library staff, and you.

Good luck with your job search. Whoever hires you will be lucky to get you! And I hope your next position will be super satisfying and fulfilling. (We have lots of good libraries here in Washington state!)

Cleo Coyle said...

Marc and I are both sending good thoughts and prayers to you and your staff. I'd say keep us posted, but I know you will, so I'll just affirm that we'll keep watching your blog and FB page for updates. You're energy and outlook are inspiring. Here's hoping you won't have to move or change jobs. (We'll keep ear to ground for you, in any case.)

Sandra said...

Lesa that is terrible - outsource a library - they are the heart and soul of a community - don't know where I would be without the librarians I have in my town. So very sorry to hear this. Best of luck in the job search.

Lesa said...

Thank you, everyone for your support, and the few notes about jobs that I've received. I'm more than happy to look at them. And, Wendy? Washington and Oregon have a number of job opportunities. I have been applying and my mother sent me another one today. She knows I don't spend my entire day looking for jobs. (grin)

Chris Nardone said...

Lesa,

Very sorry to hear of this travesty. I spent 18 years of my life at one of the best library systems in the valley...and in the company of such wonderful people. My thoughts are with all of you!

Karen C said...

Lesa, I can only echo everyone's dismay at this horrible situation and offer good wishes in the job search for you and your staff. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Wendy said...

So cool, Lesa! I'd LOVE it if you ended up in the Pacific Northwest!!

Jane R said...

Leesa, I'm so sorry. How hard for you, your staff and the patrons as well. I would only be repeating what all the others have said. It's so sad to see some of our libraries going the way of the dinosaur. I'm keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for you. Thanks for sharing this news with your readers. We're all pulling for you.

Lesa said...

Thank you, everyone. And, Chris, I know this upsets you as much as it upsets you because you know what is happening in Glendale. Thank you all. And, of course, when/if I get another job, I'll let you know.

Pat Browning said...

Lesa,

This is the saddest news. This country is sports mad. All the money going to coaches, players and stadiums is obscene. That money should be going to libraries.

You will find a place to use your talents and a place you can love. Focus on that. Keep the faith!

So many best wishes ---

Pat Browning

Lesa said...

Thank you, Pat. Actually, my screensaver on my laptop at home says, "Just relax. Read a good book. Everything will be okay." I firmly believe everything will be okay. But, I can't totally relax because I have to put some effort into this job search. You're right. What we're putting into sports here in Glendale is obscene. One players salary would probably pick up the entire deficit for the city for a year.

Elizabeth said...

Sorry to hear it. Frustrating what an upside down, priorities out of whack world we seem to be living in these days. Good thoughts headed your way.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Elizabeth. You're right. In the best of all worlds, librarians and teachers would be valued, not eliminated.

Carol N Wong said...

So sorry to hear the tormoil going on with the libraries where you live. I never thought that a library would be a target for outsourcing. Before I retired, the mail room was outsourced. Our experience was that it was an effort to get rid of benefits and have lower pay also some services vanished.

I live in the Dallas area and go to several different libraries. When we went to see a Chinese film in Mandarin at a small branch, we were given a questionnaire. It asked how we would feel if certain services were cut. I wrote for an hour, supporting the services. Then they put the results in the local newspaper. We kept the services!

In your job search, I think I would set up a Google Search for the different kind of jobs that you are looking for. Let the computer do some of the work. I do that whenever I get another rare disease! It helps.

Take care and don't worry about the blog being up and down. We all love you and care for you. I will add you to me prayers.

Carol

Charlotte said...

Less,
This is sad news, for you and the others that work for you. Our library is not doing good at this time either. My grandson who is fourteen is going in on Mondays to help restock books. They have cut hours of the ones who still work. They Cut days and hours that the library is open. The list is to long to keep on about. I never would have believed this would be happening to llibraries and the lost of so many book stores.
I trust you will find a job that you will like real fast if you have to leave.
Charlotte

Edith Maxwell said...

No matter what happens, I hope a closed door leads to an open window for you, Lesa. Our libraries are indeed the heart of our communities. I wish you the very best.

Carol M said...

I do wish you luck! I can't understand closing a library. They are so important to the community. Ours is small but it is always busy. I hope things work out for you.

Sean Chercover said...

So sorry to hear this, Lesa. On my recent visit to your library, I saw first-hand the rapport you had with your staff, and your skills with social media are tops. I'm sure you'll get a great new gig, but I'm sad about the reason why.

Hugs,
Sean

Linda Rodriguez said...

Stupid and shortsighted on the city's part! I know all of our public libraries are under fire. So sorry that yours is going now.

We pioneered the free public library and have a library system the rest of the world envies. So we're destroying it. We've done the same with the post office (once the envy of other nations) and our public university system (still is, but it's in the same kind of trouble libraries are). All these institutions helped create the great country we were. Now, we have these cretins in power, and all they want to do is kill everything.

Best wishes on your job hunt, Lesa! May you find one that uses all your wonderful skills.

Linda Rodriguez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lesa said...

Thank you everyone for sharing what's going on with your libraries, whether they're cutting back, or busy all the time. Actually, most libraries are busy even as they are forced to cut back. Thank you for all the support. Of course, you'll hear when/if something happens, even if it's quite a while. The right job will come along eventually. Sean, thank you so much for your comments about my staff, and my skills. My staff has always been my pride. I've always worked with wonderful people who truly work in libraries because they care for people in the community.

Thanks, everyone. Hugs to all of you.

Kaye Barley said...

Lesa - you're a person who has become a treasure in the world of books. People around the world know, love and respect you and your blog (NOT flattery - truth). I would imagine that all sorts of doors will now open for you.

I'm sad that you're leaving something you love, but I just feel sure you're going to land somewhere you will love, in time, just as much.

We're a country gone crazy. Sports teams and CEOs making billions, corporations running our country and yet the people who really are the backbone of our society are undervalued, if valued at all.

I'll be following your journey, my friend. And dang - but I wish I were going to Bcon! Have fun! come back and tell us all about it. Sending hugs.

Lesa said...

Kaye,

I treasure your friendship, and your words. Thank you. You're right. The right job will come along. I guess the anxiety for all of us here comes from the uncertainty. When will the ax fall? Nov. 7? Jan. 1? July 1, 2013? None of us know how long we actually have, so I'm pushing all of my staff to apply for jobs & keep their lives together. Thanks, and hugs, Kaye.

Ingrid King said...

Oh Lesa, I'm so sorry! There's just no way you can ever be prepared for something like this. All my best to you on your job search, and I wish for you with all my heart that it will be something that involves books, but even if it's something different, anybody would be lukcy to have you work with them. You're in my thoughts.

Beth Allen said...

Best of luck to you in your job search, Lesa. My Seattle library branch is closed two days a week, and the hours have been shortened. Sad days indeed. Sending good thoughts your way.

Kris Meyer said...

I hope it doesn't go through and you get to keep your job! However, if it comes to that..good luck finding something else you love quickly.