The Timberland Regional Library is facing a budget shortfall. (Here’s some background.) So it has proposed *closing* four of eight local libraries within Grays Harbor, including my library. You know. Where I spend half my life.
I practically live at the Hoquiam library. It’s my favorite place in town. So when I heard there was a “proposal” afoot to close this library and others, I was a wee bit miffed.
Naw. Not really. I hit the roof.
I contacted all seven members of the Timberland Regional Board of Trustees saying, among other things, “I can’t believe you’re even considering closing this exceptionally valuable community asset!” I also asked if they are intentionally targeting facilities in economically depressed regions for closure? Cuz it kinda looks that way.
You can weigh in too. Here’s the link for the TRL Board of Trustees and their email. Here’s the screenshot:
I also contacted my elected officials at the local, county and state level. That’s kind of what a “roof” looks like in this context.
And no, I am not gonna go to Aberdeen to pick up my books. Or do anything else library-ish. 98% of my trips to the local library are on foot. Been that way for years. The Hoquiam library is about eight pedestrian minutes away. But making a special trip to that brick-and-mortar monster in Aberdeen? Are you kidding me? And have you ever tried to park there?
Additionally, the way this news was sprung on the community – out of the blue – really stinks. See Proposal to Close Libraries Catches Patrons By Surprise.
I attended an all-day library workshop/seminar at Grays Harbor College in May. There wasn’t a whiff of this in the air. I also attended a recent TRL Board meeting held at the Hoquiam library. Not a word. Hoquiam library staff I spoke with today noted that they just had a staff training day on September 12. Zip. Zero. Nada on this.
What the heck?
So I have some questions. Like:
- How many members of the TRL Board of Trustees actually live or have lived in Grays Harbor (one, at last count)?
- Are any of these board members aware of how few free, quality resources are available in this community, libraries being at the top of the heap?
- What’s the point in spending $1M on renovating the Hoquiam library only to have it on the chopping block later?
- While Grays Harbor may have more library branches than other counties, does closing half of them – 4 out of 8 – make any real sense? Does it occur to anyone that one of the reasons this county has several library branches is because it’s a rural county, and spread out all over the place? Hello?
- Is it fair or reasonable to ask/expect a rural, economically depressed county and its residents to bear the brunt of financial issues facing the entire district?
- What kinds of financial demands are unions making on the TRL budget, and how is that contributing to the shortfall?
- Are any TRL union “collective bargaining sessions” open to the public?
Also, the Hoquiam Timberland Library is part of the five-county Timberland Regional Library system. It includes 27 libraries in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Lewis, Thurston and Mason counties. How many libraries in bigger, more metropolitan areas are expected to tighten their belts to help close the projected shortfall? By how much? If not, why not? Is a disproportionate amount of the $ burden falling on Grays Harbor? Why?
While ensconced in my favorite Hoquiam library reading cubby hole today, I heard one patron after another voice concern over this “proposal.” People are not happy.
I know, I know. It’s “complicated.” It’s about “sustainability.” Yada, yada, yada. And TRL is looking for input. Here’s mine: Since Hoquiam voted to annex into TRL, how ‘bout we vote to un-annex out of it?
Oh, wait. Facing a huge public backlash, TRL back-pedaled furiously, saying the closure “proposal” is “…just that, a proposal. It was created for the TRL Facilities Committee to review and evaluate to help shape the future of Timberland Regional Library.”
Fine. Here’s the deal: Hands off my library.
What say you?