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Buck up

November 26, 2013

What is posted below was my response to a listserv post, referring readers to a consultant’s blog about the state of libraries. Just sayin.

Pardon my slowness, but I was unable to decipher [consultant’s] post and questions, as they were without context (to me). After looking around at [consultant’s] work, I have decided:

1. Some consultants make their living by making administrators feel inadequate to do the jobs they hold, thus all the unanswerable and fear-inducing questions. [Consultant] is trolling for more work.

2. In the for-profit world, increased usage usually means increased resources and staffing. Why should it work in reverse for libraries? Because librarians have maintained their good manners beyond all reasonable bounds.

3. The business world is finally looking at executive compensation as the measure of institutional responsibility. I think cost savings could be most easily found by taking the top salaries completely out of the picture, and allowing the people who actually do the work to–hold on–actually do the work. It’s called a flatter organization, and top administrators/consultants have been fighting it for years, too successfully.

4. Buck up. Don’t let the consultants spook you. Pay attention to your patrons. Count, and report everything. Deal fairly, but toughly, with vendors. Get the job done. When someone steps on your toes, kick them in the shins with the facts.

When the band you’re in starts playing different tunes*, it is because someone has forged sheet music that is to their advantage, and not the libraries’. Libraries the world over have met and exceeded expectations of their specific clienteles for a long time, and none of us have gotten fat doing it. We don’t expect to. Those problems occur in other organizational strata, other professions, and the consultancy budget can certainly be spent in other, better ways.

Just sayin’, just my opinion, sz

Steve Zary, MS, MPH, MLIS

*Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon

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