Unreal

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.)
(860) 695-7380
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.

Likewise with Mark Twain Branch:

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
(860) 695-6295
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.

Where else could money be saved? (more…)