Making unpopular decisions in difficult “Financial Times”

Panelists:  Jen Hinderer-Library Director, Tewksbury Public Library, MA;  Ann Davis-Library Director, Stafford Library, CT; Denise van Zanten-Library Direcotr, Manchester City Library, NH


Tewksbury Public Library, MA   Ann Davis Library Director:

Front desk staff should have a few lines to express when asked about budget cuts.


Stafford Library, CT    Ann Davis-Library Director  

Selectboard recently made cuts including line items such as telephone.  Staff would have been cut more if they were not members of the union. Director suggest closing a few hours a week-but even with staff cuts, the library was not allowed to do that. Staff is becoming strained and the public has no idea. Davis did write a piece in the quarterly newsletter and she was reprimanded by town management for doing so.

Davis alleviates stress with exercise. She realizes there is not much she can do at the moment. Much of it is political. What you can do is advocate for more patrons and friends.

Manchester City Library, NH  Denise van Zanten-Library Director

City budget pays for essentials only. Trust funds pay for furniture, travel, ect.  With past budget cuts–staffing had to seriously be looked at.  Who has less impact on the patrons and where can the library save some $$. Each division head has to name someone to cut yearly if need be.  When this type of decision is made, it can very difficult to deliver this type of news to staff.

Actively advocate for your library.They try to attend as many community activities as possible. Prepare staff with information on the issues.  Budgets are stressful. As soon as figures come out-discussions do begin. She keeps chocolate and tissues available at all times. Stay in perspective.

Open to questions/comments:

Why are cuts so invisible? Making it so adds stress to staff. More the administrators make it invisible–the more cuts you will have to endure.

If you can cultivate a relationship with the local reporters–they can be of value to the library cause–they like a challenge.

It is important the manner in which you present the issues to the public. State the facts with backup material.

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