Libraries and Common Sense Take a HitAnd the war on public services continues. Due budget woes, 20 libraries across the city are losing critical staff. The Philadelphia Daily News highlights the impact at the Cecil B. Moore Branch of the Free Library.
The cutbacks mean that the two certified librarians at Moore - and at other branches slated to become "express" branches - will be moved to full-service libraries. Also, the hours at the limited-service branches will be cut from 10 a.m. to as late as 8 p.m. a couple of days a week to 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.Setting aside what Scott says, there is another part of this story that bothers me. And that is the role played by Philadelphia City Council.
City officials say the budget cuts at least keep the library branches open in the neighborhoods and they say library assistants, who generally have a high school or GED equivalent diploma, will get special training to help answer library patrons' research questions.
But Cathy Scott, the president of the union representing librarians said all of the express branches are slated for poor, minority or working-class neighborhoods.
"You won't find any cuts in library services in Chestnut Hill or Mount Airy," Scott said.
Last week, City Councilman Frank DiCicco introduced a bill to rescind $30 million Council approved in December to pay for the expansion of the Free Library's Central Branch. He said library officials had promised that the expansion would not hurt the neighborhood branches.DiCicco to the rescue. This reminds me of stuff that happened over the summer. Does anyone remember the rallies held by firefighters against proposed budget cuts? Nutter, Kenney, DiCicco, and Kelly were all there. Now that same group is taking up the fight of the neighborhood libraries. However, there seems to be an almost total disconnect from reality.
These are the same people who are pushing for so-called "Tax reform." Why do they think budget cuts are necessary? It's hard to have enough revenue to fully fund city services if tax cuts are constantly being used as the silver bullet to help Philadelphia grow. Of course, I tend to think the city will not grow without decent public services-- like fully funded libraries. But that's my bias.