I could not stay for the entire meeting of the City Council last night, but during the 2.5 hours that I was there, (plus the protest before), this is what I observed. A more complete account is on Mira Hartford.
The Hartford Public Library (downtown) is offering a free class to help people create blogs. They ask that patrons attend all three sessions, which run on August 13th, 20th, and 27th. It is an adult class and meets at 7:15pm. To register or get more information, go to their website.
Lately, all I’m hearing and reading about is how shitty the economy is right now. I’m not going to argue that.
But I have to disagree with the way we are looking at certain financial problems.
Just off the top of my head, I know that there are reports on how the Mark Twain House and Old State House have been struggling. Two branches of the Hartford Public Library have closed. A number of public school employees have been laid off. The state is having budgeting issues (which apparently means that some state employees get to currently work without having the security of signed contracts. Employees can get paid for what they have worked, but be told not to return for the rest of the term. source: personal experience). When hearing about each of these issues, the message I am receiving is that nothing can be done. Our hands are tied. The library does not want to take responsibility for their budgeting mishaps. Some politicians don’t seem to want to step up and do their jobs, which directly involve city budgeting issues. What’s more, the city has this image problem (exacerbated by the media on a nearly daily basis) which allows outsiders to justify letting everything here crumble.
Money problems are not the same as late stage cancer or earthquakes–there is, in fact, something to be done. Capitalism, the whole concept of money, and esoteric budgets involving huge sums are all manufactured, aka, they are all man-made things. This is America, and no matter how awful our economy is right now, we, as a country, are faring better than many places in the world. The American Dream myth of pulling oneself up by his bootstraps is flipped. If anyone has the ability to succeed in that way, it’s not the individual, but the larger entity–the organization or corporation. (more…)
What is the deal with administrative/operating decisions lately at the Hartford Public Library? Weeks ago, there was criticism that librarians were not contacting the Hartford Police Department when circumstances indicated they might want to do so. Now, the Mark Twain Branch and Blue Hills Branch are closing, but a source quoted in the Courant makes it sound like there are political games going on:
Leo Laffitte, a representative of the library’s union AFSCME Local 1716, said Monday he does not believe that chief Librarian Louise Blalock intends to close the branches.
“She intentionally selected those branches because she knows community activists in those neighborhoods would not allow for that to happen.”
The union suspects that Blalock has inflated the number of layoffs and the amount of the budget gap.
“It’s a scare tactic,” Laffitte said.
The idea that this is all a mess created by pig-headedness and grandstanding does not sit well with me. It costs money to operate everything. We know that. Surely there are places to make cuts that do not involve closing branches. In the meantime, how’s about not toying with Hartford residents, who are dealing with enough garbage as it is?
The library finally got around to posting notices about the closures. Nothing like a little procrastination, y’all. Both say essentially the same thing:
Hartford Public Library sincerely regrets the loss of services at the Blue Hills Branch. The branch will close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, 2008. Please visit the Albany Branch and the Library On Wheels for your library needs.
Albany Branch (1.56 miles)
1250 Albany Avenue (at Blue Hills Ave.)
Monday, Wednesday 12:00 to 6:00 PM
Tuesday, Thursday 12:00 to 8:00 PM
Friday, Saturday 12:00 to 5:00 PM
Former patrons of the Blue Hills branch are referred to the Albany Avenue branch:
Summer Reading Program:
Student Folders will be transferred to the Albany Branch. The first 100 youth customers from Blue Hills visiting the Albany Branch to check out or report on summer reading assignments will receive round-trip bus fare reimbursement ($2.00) The Teen Leader you worked with at Blue Hills will be available to help you at Albany.
Hartford Public Library sincerely regrets the loss of services at the Mark Twain Branch. The branch will close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, 2008. Please visit the Downtown Library and the Library On Wheels for your library needs.
Downtown Library (1.43 miles)
500 Main Street
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Friday, Saturday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sundays 1:00 to 5:00 PM (October through May)
Summer Reading Program:
Student Folders will be transferred to the Downtown Library—3rd Floor Children’s Library. The first 100 youth customers from Mark Twain visiting the Downtown Library to check out or report on summer reading assignments will receive round-trip bus fare reimbursement ($2.00) The Teen Leader you worked with at Mark Twain will be available to help you Downtown.
The library is prepared to spend roughly $400 on bus fare. Giving a one-time bus fare voucher is more of an insult than any kind of proactive measure. This might get each patron to the library once over the summer, but it does not erase any inconvenience created by the situation.