Empty shelves

Last month, due to budgetary issues, my masters decided to suspend our major domestic approval plan until the end of the fiscal year.

Today is the first day that all the shelves outside my office are devoid of new books. Well, it would have been Monday, if I'd been at work. We've been talking about moving the review area upstairs, so our technical services staff wouldn't have to truck them around all the time, but that would have been a plan, not so shocking as coming into our office and finding it empty of new books. I never even look at them, honestly, because although I'm supposed to coordinate the approval plan, I have no responsibility whatsoever over what the result is. Maybe I should have appreciated it more, reveled in the notion of shelves and shelves of new books every week.

It's pretty depressing, our approval plans are a big part of my job, and now I have 3 months to ponder the empty shelves, run some reports, train selectors on processes that they aren't motivated to use because they have no money to buy stuff if they wanted to, and think about what next year will bring. I actually like doing the approval plan stuff, and often wish it would take up more of my time.

Honestly, there are a lot of factors that led up to the approval plan suspension, and our libraries have been very lucky to not have to cut back for several years - there are probably plenty of places that can be trimmed and realigned (we're not allowed to use the C-word, for political reasons) without much damage. We can plan for this for next year, and had we known the true budget situation earlier in the fiscal year, we could have made less drastic adjustments. Oh well. /sigh

Our budget is in dire straits, no surprise to anyone in Arizona who's been paying attention to the news. The state universities are proposing an economically stimulating building project, which would be really great - though I doubt much of that money would be directed towards the university libraries, who are supposed to provide resources for all these new academic programs and research.

I guess I should be thankful that there is no talk of cutting positions, only hiring freezes. I don't need to worry about my job - and I'm not even worried that it might not be the same job in the future. I don't even think we necessarily need to buy as many books as we do, but we DO need books - new books, books requested by our patrons, books needed for research and study. We're not past all that yet.


  1. That really stinks. It is unfortunately the reality of our economy right now. Nothing sags morale than a library with no new books. It's the equivalent of not eating. It will pass, as all crunches do. It is good that you are not experiencing any staffing cuts, not that it makes the situation any better.


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