What are the major problems facing public libraries in Austin?
On January 18, 2017, the Austin Public Library board voted unanimously to shut down the library.
As part of the move, Austin Public would be required to implement a “new strategic plan” that would require all libraries in the city to open “in the next two years.”
According to the Austin Monitor, the new plan “would mandate a new library strategy that focuses on building a vibrant public library system in Austin, and would set a timeline to achieve the goal.”
The plan would also require all public libraries to maintain the same level of staffing as in 2017.
But in an attempt to save money, the board also decided to take the drastic step of cancelling the public library’s annual fundraising event, the “Big Book Sale.”
The Big Book Sale was a special annual fundraiser that raised over $1 million for libraries in 2015, according to the Monitor.
But it has been under attack from some members of the Austin community for years.
On the day of the sale, library staff were told that their job was to get the books to people.
In a statement on the Big Book sale, the library wrote that the event “has become the target of vandalism and theft, and has become a distraction for staff and volunteers.”
The Austin Monitor noted that the sale “is a vital revenue stream for our city and we must do all we can to keep it that way. “
Additionally, the sale has been a distraction to our city, as it has led to many unnecessary incidents of vandalism, thefts and other inappropriate behavior, and as a result has made our library and community less safe.”
The Austin Monitor noted that the sale “is a vital revenue stream for our city and we must do all we can to keep it that way.
We must ensure that the proceeds from the sale are spent wisely and that we can provide safe and welcoming environments for our community’s residents.”
The news of the Big Bazaar cancellation was met with outrage by some members.
“The sale was always supposed to be a fun time, and I don’t know why anyone thought it was a bad thing to take it away from us,” wrote one commenter on the Monitor’s Facebook page.
“Why do we need a sale if we’re going to have a library?”
Others took issue with the library’s decision to shut it down.
“I think they should just shut it.
The library is a wonderful thing that provides a service that makes Austin and Austin taxpayers happy.
The people who work here have a lot to offer our community,” wrote another.
The Austin Public library’s move to cancel the Big Books Sale was met by outrage and backlash on social media.
One Facebook user posted, “There is no room for vandalism in Austin.
It is already too busy to provide the resources we need to keep the public libraries safe.”
Others wrote, “The fact that the library was sold to someone who did not know how to use a computer, should not disqualify them from providing a service to our community.
Why should we allow this to happen?”
Others said that the decision was “a slap in the face” and a “sad and shameful act” that “could have been avoided by more information being shared.”
Some social media users were also upset that the move was being blamed on the city of Austin for not making more of an effort to improve the library and its staff.
“A city can’t afford to lose a major revenue source,” one person wrote.
“Austin taxpayers should be demanding that the city do more to make sure our libraries are a safe place for the public to visit.”