You’re the Marathon library director. Your health insurance costs are skyrocketing, up 16%. You’re required to give staff mandatory 3% yearly salary increases. Fuel costs are up, materials costs are up, everything’s up except your funding, which is fairly stagnant. Per capita library spending is under $28, and your budget is going up 2-3% a year, at best. You’re already down 3.5 FTE from 5 years ago.
What do you do?
(Let’s take it as a given that you’ll avoid the current bad PR route of implying that your staff’s jobs could be done by trained monkeys, reclassifying positions, and inviting them to reapply at a lower salary. Also, please, no “I’ll take it out of my own salary.” I don’t believe you, and no one else will. Yes, you could fire that consultant, but that only helps you this year — think long-term, here.)
What do you DO?
This isn’t an idle question — it’s the larger, and the real, Marathon County question. What’s happening in Marathon County is happening at public libraries all over the country, who are facing similar decisions of what to cut, where to belt-tighten, what to do when you just can’t belt-tighten anymore. If you’re going to be a 21st century public librarian, you need to be prepared to make tough decisions about where to allocate your resources.