Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trouble in River City

How are you other support staffers being affected by budget cuts? I know we all appreciate how fortunate we are to have jobs, along with health and retirement benefits, given the state of the economy.

A colleague sent this out and I thought I would share it:

Notes based loosely on William Bridges Transitions: Making sense of life’s changes

Ending: When you are going through a change, [such as the City’s current budget situation], the shape of the world you are used to is being dismantled. Even if changes turn out to be positive, you need to mourn what you lose in the process. You are losing your identity as it relates to life before the change. If you aren’t that any more, what are you? This is a necessary part of the process of letting go of the past, emptying out what was.

It is unsettling to see the almost daily changes that are occurring. In my library, while the city is committed to no layoffs or demotions, they are not replacing staff as they leave through retirement or resignation; they are also encouraging voluntary furloughs.

So the workload is increasing for those of us who remain and any of us is vulnerable to reassignment. This is already happening, with several in Adult Services where I work being sent to other departments and other branches; some services are being combined or shifted to different departments. I don't mind working even harder; and I suppose I'll adjust if I end up somewhere else in this library system (but I sure won't be turning cartwheels!)

As Washington Irving said: There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position, and be bruised in a new place.

What's that you say? I'm lucky to have a job? Yes, yes I am.


  1. Two patrons came in and sobbed at the circ desk in the last few months. One had just lost her job and learned that she had a $150 library fine in the same day. (Yes, I waived the fine.) The other was about to take a final exam but that morning had learned that her unborn child might have a birth defect, and she was too broken up to take the test. I got her tissues. My co-worker Judy made her a cup of peppermint tea. And then we contacted her professor and, since it was Friday afternoon of Finals Week, we sent a back-up message to the distance education folks so she wouldn't get into trouble. We have since learned that her baby is healthy, but it was quite a moment in our quiet little science library.

    We find ourselves in these human situations, with patrons, bosses and co-workers. I just hope we can all support one another. The rules are one thing--people are more important.

  2. You are awesome Susan! I love when people do their jobs well and are also compassionate.

  3. What a wonderful response, I wish we could respond as personally as you did, Susan; unfortunately, in a large public library like mine, that personal touch is much harder to provide. We are seeing more and more use of all our resources as folks lose their jobs, and sometimes their homes. We do what we can, like waiving fines, offering free printing up to 10 pages, being a listening ear, handing out kleenex, offering free computer classes, providing special adaptive technology with free internet for visually impaired and other disabled folks, and free use of business and job search databases. But, we are also pretty bound by the rules for a number of reasons and it can be frustrating; for one thing, situations like you describe make up about a third of my interactions every day.

  4. Great quote from Washington Irving, Margaret, that is sure what I feel like as well. It is exciting and tiring. Finding a co-worker to do "reality checks" with is handy. Stocking up on tea is a good suggestion as well.