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I got home from a great day at the library to this article by Linda Braun. Linda is our Youth Services Manager and since she put this article out into the world in a professional capacity, but not a Seattle Public Library outlet, I feel comfortable answering it in the politest terms I can muster.
Linda, do you work in public services? No? How long has it been since you have? From what I’ve read on your resume, it’s been a while. Many years, in fact. And no, dropping into a program every few months does not count.
So when you tell us that being busy during Summer Reading (Sorry, Summer of Learning) isn’t a reason for concern, I wonder which library world you’re living in.
According to your piece, this is the only time that our libraries are busy. How would you know? And actually, have you seen our circulation stats? Our program attendance? The number of programs and outreach visits we plan in house each year?
The real argument against your opinion piece is this: How can we give good customer service to these hundreds of families that descend upon us when the summer program starts when we have the same staffing level we had the day before? How can librarians suggest just right books to parents, teens and children when there are 10 more behind them and only one of us in the building? How can circulation staff keep up with all the fine payments and new cards (because the old ones expired) etc that come with this influx? We do the best we can and we do it cheerfully.
And yes, we complain to each other in private as a means of support through a crazy time. Then things settle down after a week or two and we can do a better job. Welcome to the library Linda. Maybe someday you’ll be one of us.