Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Libraries as "Essential Services"

A friend of mine was visiting this weekend. She had a brief stint as a public librarian in the northern Miami area. During that time, she got hit by hurricaines Wilma, Katrina, and Rita. During the evacuation, they said all county employees had to stay. By the time they were allowed to leave, it was too late

At our library, the college administration thinks the library is an "essential service." Even if classes are cancelled (which they almost never are at a campus-level), the library is still expected to be open with full services offered unless the governor of PA declares a state of emergency. Our director is of a slightly more practical opinion, thank goodness, and I have so far not had to take advantage of this.

It is flattering to be considered an "essential service," but I don't understand the job requirement of risking one's life to provide library services. Libraries are essential to our society, but a temporary lapse in services for occasional, very good reasons isn't going to hurt anything!


Katertot said...

I think it's interesting when the county decides that you are essential and when you aren't. When budget time comes around libraries aren't so essential but as backups to the firefighters and cops they are. Cake and eat it too, no?

Anonymous said...

It's the same at our library; only Dining Services, Health Services, and the library have to stay open when the campus is closed for blizzards etc. So books are right up there with food and medicine. Strange, given that most of our students would be quite content doing their research online from their dorm rooms!

But I've been at work during days when the rest of campus is closed due to snow, and it's amazing how many students find their way to the library. Probably because they're stir-crazy from being stranded in their dorms all day.