A few days ago I had a blog on the controversial senior staff proposal to relocate the Foothills Branch Library to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center. It will be discussed and direction given by the Glendale City Council on Tuesday, February 3, 2015.
Shelley Mosley, a former Glendale employee as well as a former Manager of the Velma Teague Branch Library submitted the following as a comment to that blog. Fearing that many readers may never see her comment, I offer her analysis as a Guest Commentary:
Submitted by Shelley Mosley on 2015/01/31 at 10:17 am
Joyce, your post covers everything that’s wrong about selling Foothills Branch Library. Good job! Here is my open letter to the Mayor and Council:
Dear Mayor and Council,
I am writing to ask you to reconsider your plans for the Foothills Branch Library, but before I do, I just want to briefly establish my credentials. I worked at the Velma Teague Branch Library almost twenty-five years, eighteen of those as its manager. Most recently, I worked at the Glendale Community College Library, which is high-tech. Just to make matters clear, I am not opposed to electronic resources. In fact, I currently write for three companies (EBSCO, GALE, and ABC-CLIO) that publish electronic reference books. As a citizen of Glendale, as a professional librarian, and as a member of the Foothills Branch Library design team during its conception and construction, I am deeply concerned about its fate.
You are being told that the relocation of the Foothills Branch Library will create an “expansion of library services.” The branch book collection is going to lose 141,000 books. Does that sound like an expansion to you? There will be 35,000 books left, or only about 25% of the collection. This would be the same as if every year you got a whole butchered pig for your freezer. But this year, you’re told you’re getting a better pig, an enhanced pig, an improved pig. You open the butcher paper package and find you’ve only gotten the feet and the head.
Yes, there will be electronic versions of books available at the stripped down branch, and yes, there are people who prefer to read their books on Kindles, Nooks, etc. But there are already e-books available to the public at the Glendale Library System. There are probably just as many, if not more, of your constituents who still like hard copy books. Have you visited any of the Glendale libraries? Have you seen the sheer joy of a child as he or she takes that carefully selected stack of books to the front desk to be checked out? Have you watched a story time, where the children excitedly examine the shelves of picture books before and after the librarian tells them a story? This happy experience, learning to love books, is a stepping-stone to literacy.
You are being told there will be “reduced annual operating expenses without eliminating full-time library staff.” Yes, full-time staff stays, but the pages are losing their jobs. The pages are the ones who keep the books in order. If you don’t think that’s important, try finding a misplaced novel.
You have been told there will be “increased library hours for the public with 13 additional hours a week, going from currently 36 hours to 49 hours which is 676 hours more a year.” The library used to be open 68 hours a week. That’s 1664 more hours a year.
You have been told “there is space available at the Foothills Recreation and Aquatics Center (FRAC). By relocating and creating a new branch library here, it is possible to utilize existing city-owned space.” Have you looked at that space? Library staff has been told the library is going to be in the Coyote Room and the current rec. room where the pool tables are. Compare that space to the Foothills Branch Library. Is this an improvement? You have also been told that people can use the meeting rooms after the FBL becomes property of Midwestern. How convenient will this be? Have you been on a college campus recently? Most important, as Midwestern grows, how long will these rooms be available?
Selling the library the citizens of Glendale voted for and love will give you at most 4-5 months of funds to pay for the maintenance of the hockey arena. What kind of a deal is this? And when you do sell the library, at least be honest with your constituents; don’t spin this pig in the poke to be “improved library service,” because it isn’t.
Hoping you can see past the hype. Shelley Mosley