City Fails to Convince Judge to Allow Library Branches to Close

Becky's picture
codergrrl's picture

They're gonna end up just

They're gonna end up just keeping them open with reduced days/hours of operation.
I wonder if that was the plan from the beginning, but now we'd be grateful to get it?

Becky's picture

I get the feeling that the

I get the feeling that the city's plan truly is to shed these 11 branches and not have to worry about them again.

Yes, I would be grateful to get an open library with reduced hours/days. That leaves the door open to restore service in better times.

I'm on board with helping out and making some sacrifices when the city is facing hard times. Frankly, I think those who oppose the closings with little more than a cry of "but it will be inconvenient!" are not helping the cause.

The issue is far deeper than inconvenience--it speaks to a lack of transparency, a refusal to rethink and consider new input, and a willingness to put the burden of sacrifice on the shoulders of those who can least afford to carry it. And as many have already pointed out, it sets a precedent for closing additional branches.

roma258's picture

I honestly have a dificult

I honestly have a dificult time understanding why Nutter is driving so hard to close these libraries. The savings, in the grand scheme of things are not that huge. However, the symbolic and tangible effect of permanently closing these libraries is disproportionately massive for the neighborhoods where the closings will take place. There has to be a better way to realize savings in the city budget. I was a big fan of Nutter when he got elected, but I just can't find any justification for the way he's acted with the library closings.

kdubs215's picture

Cutting hours back has to be

Cutting hours back has to be a better option . There is no need for the place to be opened in the morning/early afternoon during the school year .

Larry99's picture

This is good news. No one,

This is good news. No one, even the mayor, should be above the law. I realize Mayor Nutter is in a tight spot with this financial crisis but I too can't understand his justification in handling the library closings. I'm also ok with cuts across the board. Why can't ALL libraries operate 5 days a week instead of 6 for now?

And now he is "astounded" that library patrons won't compromise. The first comment is great...

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/Nutter_Astounded_Library_Patrons_Wont_Compromise.html

Trixie's picture

I said this before and I

I said this before and I will again. Closing libraries in a city that has a ridiculously high drop out rate is absurd!! What kind of message is he sending to little kids - learning and reading is expendable?

Hey let's revitalize Broad Street again and put up some ridiculous streetlamps instead of feeding, housing and educating people. Yeah everyone who lives here is poor and can't read but Broad Street is fucking beautiful!!!

Jabara Fractus's picture

This probably won't make me

This probably won't make me very popular (I'm prone to playing devil's advocate), but I'm not sure that reduced hours - especially if it's down to 3 or 4 days a week - is necessarily a better option.

Granted, as an approach it is clearly more fair - everyone bares the brunt of this financial crisis as opposed to the handful of neighborhoods unfortunate enough to find their libraries on the chopping block. I wonder though if this new approach won't be more damaging in the long term. I fear there will be a healthy contingent of patrons that will not be able to keep track of which library is open when; library hours across the board are less likely to align with people's available time.

If patrons can't make use of the library system when they want it or need it, will they just stop using it? There used to be a bakery in Queens where I used to live that had the most amazing pound cake. Really amazing. The problem was that the bakery's hours were a little screwy and I couldn't keep track of when it was open. I'd make the walk looking forward devouring a marble pound cake and the place would be closed. So I basically stopped going. The bakery ultimately went out of business (I ate a lot of pound cake).

My point is that I fear reduced hours might ultimately lead to reduced patronage and reduced circulation which will only expose the library system to even more cuts leading to even less patronage, etc, etc. Reducing hours also seems to be an incredibly inefficient strategy in that the savings only come from reduced man-hours. I'm sure the cost to staff a single library isn't insignificant, but you still have to heat/cool, insure, maintain, and secure a building on the days that it's not being used let alone keeping its collection current.

Nobody wants to lose their neighborhood branch and in a perfect world, nobody should have to. But if the alternative is larger scale damage to the whole system, I'm not sure I can justify this course of action.

Ugh. This whole situation stinks.

tudor's picture

There's got to be a better

There's got to be a better way to deal with this than for the Mayor to go to the Commonwealth Court to appeal a decision that goes against him. Maybe auction off the library: I don't think anyone but people from the community would bid on it anyway. And if we could pay for it in installments, it might work.

jmminarik's picture

Larry99 wrote: And now he

Larry99 wrote:

And now he is "astounded" that library patrons won't compromise. The first comment is great...

He is the new idjit mayor.

roma258's picture

Jabara Fractus wrote:This

Jabara Fractus wrote:

This probably won't make me very popular (I'm prone to playing devil's advocate), but I'm not sure that reduced hours - especially if it's down to 3 or 4 days a week - is necessarily a better option.

Granted, as an approach it is clearly more fair - everyone bares the brunt of this financial crisis as opposed to the handful of neighborhoods unfortunate enough to find their libraries on the chopping block. I wonder though if this new approach won't be more damaging in the long term. I fear there will be a healthy contingent of patrons that will not be able to keep track of which library is open when; library hours across the board are less likely to align with people's available time.

If patrons can't make use of the library system when they want it or need it, will they just stop using it? There used to be a bakery in Queens where I used to live that had the most amazing pound cake. Really amazing. The problem was that the bakery's hours were a little screwy and I couldn't keep track of when it was open. I'd make the walk looking forward devouring a marble pound cake and the place would be closed. So I basically stopped going. The bakery ultimately went out of business (I ate a lot of pound cake).

My point is that I fear reduced hours might ultimately lead to reduced patronage and reduced circulation which will only expose the library system to even more cuts leading to even less patronage, etc, etc. Reducing hours also seems to be an incredibly inefficient strategy in that the savings only come from reduced man-hours. I'm sure the cost to staff a single library isn't insignificant, but you still have to heat/cool, insure, maintain, and secure a building on the days that it's not being used let alone keeping its collection current.

Nobody wants to lose their neighborhood branch and in a perfect world, nobody should have to. But if the alternative is larger scale damage to the whole system, I'm not sure I can justify this course of action.

Ugh. This whole situation stinks.

Jab, the reason that the cuts across the board have been so severe is that the free library management never developed a contingency plan for the scenario where the 11 libraries stay open. The plan all along was to close the libraries, come hell or high water. Now that their plan has been blocked, they're scrambling to staff up the libraries that already had their staff laid off or reassigned. Had Nutter at least had a contingency plan, or looked for compromises before being taken to court, this whole situation could've been averted. I think people would've been open to a wide variety of compromises, including privatized "knowledge centers", instead we were told that the libraries were permanently closing and that's that.

Jabara Fractus's picture

roma258 wrote:Jabara Fractus

roma258 wrote:
Jabara Fractus wrote:

This probably won't make me very popular (I'm prone to playing devil's advocate), but I'm not sure that reduced hours - especially if it's down to 3 or 4 days a week - is necessarily a better option.

Granted, as an approach it is clearly more fair - everyone bares the brunt of this financial crisis as opposed to the handful of neighborhoods unfortunate enough to find their libraries on the chopping block. I wonder though if this new approach won't be more damaging in the long term. I fear there will be a healthy contingent of patrons that will not be able to keep track of which library is open when; library hours across the board are less likely to align with people's available time.

If patrons can't make use of the library system when they want it or need it, will they just stop using it? There used to be a bakery in Queens where I used to live that had the most amazing pound cake. Really amazing. The problem was that the bakery's hours were a little screwy and I couldn't keep track of when it was open. I'd make the walk looking forward devouring a marble pound cake and the place would be closed. So I basically stopped going. The bakery ultimately went out of business (I ate a lot of pound cake).

My point is that I fear reduced hours might ultimately lead to reduced patronage and reduced circulation which will only expose the library system to even more cuts leading to even less patronage, etc, etc. Reducing hours also seems to be an incredibly inefficient strategy in that the savings only come from reduced man-hours. I'm sure the cost to staff a single library isn't insignificant, but you still have to heat/cool, insure, maintain, and secure a building on the days that it's not being used let alone keeping its collection current.

Nobody wants to lose their neighborhood branch and in a perfect world, nobody should have to. But if the alternative is larger scale damage to the whole system, I'm not sure I can justify this course of action.

Ugh. This whole situation stinks.

Jab, the reason that the cuts across the board have been so severe is that the free library management never developed a contingency plan for the scenario where the 11 libraries stay open. The plan all along was to close the libraries, come hell or high water. Now that their plan has been blocked, they're scrambling to staff up the libraries that already had their staff laid off or reassigned. Had Nutter at least had a contingency plan, or looked for compromises before being taken to court, this whole situation could've been averted. I think people would've been open to a wide variety of compromises, including privatized "knowledge centers", instead we were told that the libraries were permanently closing and that's that.

I think there is a little more complexity in this situation making it difficult to simply point a finger at the Free Library management for not enacting a contingency plan.

I agree that options should have been discussed in some sort of public forum - i.e. close branches or cut hours across the board (or, even better, find economies and streamline city government) - but I don't think that because this did not happen that the whole situation could have been averted. The library was charged with cutting their expenses. We still would be faced with closing branches or cutting hours. Either way, the layoffs were inevitable.

I'm also not comfortable with the private "knowledge center" option (even the name it's being given sounds just ambiguous enough to be insidious). I'm categorically opposed to the idea of privatizing libraries because I think it sets an extremely dangerous precedent. The public library system is the last truly "Public" (capital P is intentional) arena left in this country and exposing it to competition by a private entity purporting to provide the same service would be devastating. I commend those that have been working so hard to come up with options - specifically regarding the Fishtown branch - and they have every right to seek options allowing the branch, in one form or the other, to remain a vital part of our neighborhood. I just fear the larger implications.

codergrrl's picture

Can I go to the library

Can I go to the library today?
Is there a librarian there?
What is the current status of the Fishtown library?

athrahans's picture

Please contact the branch

Please contact the branch (any of them) before visiting. Branches may be closed due to staffing shortages. Sorry!

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/our-money/De_facto_closings.html