If you haven't seen it already, the New York Library Association has issued a press release about upcoming budget cuts for that state's 73 library systems. Right now $20 million has been trimmed off its already reduced budget of $99 million (from $103 milliion, in 2007).
And guess what? This will be happening all across the country. Philadelphia will also be closing libraries as part of the solution to stem a $108 million city management budget deficit.
That's so sad—and the cuts are so stupid.
Because they are counterproductive. My God, libraries are idea factories. It's where people go to think, to renew their thoughts, to create. For the historical thrillers that are my current WIPs, the two local library systems I use the most — Marin County and San Francisco — have provided me with a wealth of information that I could never find online.
Cutbacks will affect the hours in which our libraries stay open, the librarians whose brains are the keys to the kingdom, and of course, the books they buy. OUR books. (Hey, I'll admit it: nothing lifts my spirits more than researching which of my books are in, say, the New York Public Library system, and whether they are checked out or not. Yeah yeah I know: very vain!)
The brick-and-mortar market for books is shrinking. Borders is a ghost of its former self, there will continue to be major cutbacks (of stores, staff and inventory) at B&N, and the shuttering of indies all over the country will all affect how your book can be promoted, even as the Internet becomes the predominant distribution source. Unless publishers get creative with where and how they sell our books, we authors must always remember that libraries play a significant role in our professional and artistic well-being.
So, what can we do for our libraries?
Why not a series of readings (and of course, book sales) as fundraisers?
Why not a National Author Spelling Bee, happening in various cities all over the country? (Book sales, again, can benefit that city's local library)...
Winners from each city can then compete for a national crown
Just think about it. We can get sponsors. We can get press. We can raise much needed funds, and feel good about what we're doing, for a place that has done so much for us as well.
And if we're successful in calling attention to our local libraries' survival, we too will survive.
Can you spell THRIVE?
Author, IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED
Yo! Those authors located in San Francisco who are willing to spell (or read aloud) at a fundraiser for our libraries, email me offline: firstname.lastname@example.org