Friday, August 06, 2010

Camden Threatens to Close All City Libraries in 2011

It looks like Vice-President Biden's "Summer of Recovery" tour is fast turning into the bust the rest of us already knew was headed our way like a bat out of hell.  Sometimes, it seems, our beloved leaders are the last too know (scary as that thought is).

That's not the case, though, for the bunch in charge of Camden, NJ, government.  They know how bad it really is out there, and they are chopping non-esential services to help control their budget shortfall.  You know, non-essential services like public libraries.   According to the MyFox, New York, website this is what is going to happen:
New Jersey's most impoverished city will close all three branches of its public library at year's end unless a rescue can be pulled off.

Camden's library board says the libraries won't be able to afford to stay open past Dec. 31 because of budget cuts from the city government. The city had its subsidy from the state cut.

The library board president says the library system, which opened in 1904, is preparing to donate, sell or destroy its collections, including 187,000 books.

Board president Martin McKernan says keeping the books around would pose a fire hazard.
I am desperately hoping that this library board president is just playing a game of "chicken" with those in charge of funding the Camden library system because I cannot imagine that a library president would ever really resort to destroying a collection of this size.  Why would the books be more of a fire hazard if the doors are locked on Camden's libraries than they are now?  Does this guy really expect that his future budget will some day go up to a level that allows him to replace 187,000 books all at once?  Or is he a prime example of the Peter Principle...a man who has been promoted one too many times and is now in a job that demands way more competence than he possesses?

Libraries continue to take the hit for all the foolish government overspending in other areas.  This disgusting trend seems to be on the rise - and that is very, very wrong.


  1. This is sad to read. I really hope they can turn things around. Network/collaborate with other libraries all across the country that were in similar situations that were able to make changes and such.

    On another note... I found this comment interesting.. "New York library customer Elle Byram said she's trying to avoid coffee shops where she'll end up spending money. She said the library "is spacious, it has free internet access. You meet cool people, but it's not really supposed to be a social place." I disagree and I'll save that for a blog post.

  2. Good points, Tandy.

    Libraries can be lifesavers in a down economy like this one, and to see them be one of the first things to get chopped is just ludicrous to me. Cut the waste, guys...and you can save the libraries.