Tag Archives: library employee

49 Reasons to Say No to Mayor Gimenez’s Proposal to Saving Our Libraries

Yesterday, Mayor Gimenez unveiled his idea of what the Miami-Dade Public Library System will look like under his administration this upcoming fiscal year. Good news: his administration managed to find ways to keep all libraries open; bad news: you’ll never be able to get in while it is.

Some branches are open 10 to 2pm. Others are open from 2 – 6pm. Then, some are open 3 – 7pm, or 4 to 9pm.

But, he’s working on a “24/7 Mobile App” that will be able to tell the user when libraries are open and when they are closed (nevermind that A) Apps are usually 24/7 anyway, B) Not everyone has a smartphone and C) MDPLS already had a mobile version of the website that has listed hours)!

The cuts in services stem from the notion that while are our economy is improving, taxpayers cannot yet afford to pay more in taxes.  Perhaps this is true. Yet, in 2011 Mayor Gimenez cut library services drastically by reducing hours and cutting staff to a bare minimum with that very same reason.

Now in 2013 Mayor Gimenez once again is dismantling our library system even more drastically than before by not fully funding our services. If you disagree with Mayor Gimenez’s idea of a library system Say No to his proposal – and here are 49 reasons why.

1- Say No to libraries only open 16 hours a week
2- Say No to a lack of new books
3- Say No to libraries with no story time
4- Say No to libraries only opening in the morning
5- Say No to your kids finding the library closed after school
6- Say No to libraries closed on Mondays
7- Say No to cancelled computer classes
8- Say No to unsafe libraries with no security guards
9- Say No to deteriorating library buildings (no up-keep)
10-Say No to cancellation of teen programs
11-Say No to lack of Reference materials
12-Say No to not being able to find your books on the shelves
13-Say No to lack of access to printers, scanners & copier machines
14-Say No to libraries open only from 2pm-6pm
15-Say No to wasting gas to drive to the next library because the library   near your home is closed
16-Say No to illiteracy
17-Say No to libraries without janitorial services
18-Say No to misuse of library funds
19-Say No to reduction of E-books
20-Say No to the dismantling of the Main library’s art collection
21-Say No to lack of trained professionals willing to help

22-Say No to cancellation of community outreach programs
23-Say No to not being able to place reserves
24-Say No to lack of new DVDs

25-Say No to libraries only open from 9am-1pm
26-Say No to not being able find someone to help you with your resume and job search
27-Say No to part-time libraries

28-Say No to lack of special collection Spanish reading materials

29-Say No to kids left out on the street
30-Say No to Regional Libraries not open from 9:30AM – 9PM.
31-Say No to longer wait times for materials and for service

32-Say No to not having access to computers when you need them
33-Say No to broken down computers without technical support to fix them
34-Say No to cancellation of senior citizen programming

35-Say No to not having cultural programming
36-Say No to Reduction of services through the Jump Start program

37-Say No to Reduction of services through Project LEAD (Literacy for Every Adult in Dade)

38-Say No to lack of special collection Braille books for the visually impaired

39-Say No to not having programs that teach children to read

40-Say No to ignorance

41-Say No to lack of a safe social gathering spot

42-Say No to having to take a bus (or 2) to get to open library near you

43-Say No to having to pay for services the library offers for free

44-Say No to replacing a functioning library system with an App

45-Say No to not having someone to help your kids with their homework

46-Say No to having a library that does not encourage imagination

47-Say No to cancelling craft activities with teens and children

48-Say No to reduction of services to hhomebound library users

49-Say No to not finding someone to help you when you walk through the door

And 169 more reasons to Say No to Mayor Gimenez’s plan for the library system: 169 willing and able employees who are being laid off due to lack of funding.

Say YES to Fully Funding our Miami-Dade Public Library System. Say Yes I am willing to pay $20 more on my taxes to fully fund my services!

 

-Library Employee #169

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Children Know Best

Maggie* is a 4 year old daughter of Library Employee #3.

This is the conversation they had tonight, just before bed. 

———————

Maggie: Mommy it is important to go to school.
Me: Yes Maggie, but it is also important to go to sleep early. That way you have energy to learn new things at school. Now go to sleep.
Maggie: Mom you know what is even more important?
Me: What Maggie?
Maggie: Saving libraries.
Me: Okay Maggie, now you have to go to sleep. (I began to cry)
Maggie: Mom you know what we should do?
Me: Maggie it’s sleepy time.
Maggie: Mom we should give people pink save the libraries cards for their birthdays.
Me: Maggie l love you so much now we have to go to sleep.

I am so proud of my 4 year old library activist. This is why I am fighting…She loves reading and that is thanks to her parents who both work at the library.

———————–

*Names have been changed

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The History of MDPLS

I like to share with you a brief history of the Miami-Dade Public Library System. 

Since 1971, the Miami-Dade Public Library System has been serving the majority of residents within unincorporated Miami-Dade and most municipalities.  Due to the support of many past leaders and elected officials, the Library System steadily grew in number of branches and types of services provided to the public.  Our library system provided a myriad of programs that range from storytelling to expected mothers, newborns and toddlers; computer courses for those who are not able to afford them; workshops for those who come to this country in the hopes of a better life and services to a person’s home when they are not able to visit a library due to a disability or end of life. 

In 2008 the Library System reached what could be called a zenith when it was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Services.  This national recognition of excellence was presented to the Library Director by first lady Laura Bush.  As many library employees celebrated this achievement, little did we know that three years later under Mayor Gimenez the Library System would be the target for decimation for reasons we still do not know.

In 2011, just a few months after Mayor Gimenez started his job with the County; He targeted the Library System and reduced the millage by 50%.  He claimed that this was done in order to use up a large reserve that the library held for expansion of its branches to many underserved areas in the County.  However, the mayor went beyond a reduction in the millage to use up the reserves.  He also eliminated 160 full time positions and 100 part time positions cutting library staff by one third. 

Now we come to 2013.  The reserves are gone and because of the Mayor’s actions the millage is only able to cover half of the operating funds needed to run this system.  So now we have another purge within library ranks and this time half of the staff will be gone. 

Yes, you will have 4 buildings with a large sign on them branding them as libraries.  But in fact what residents of Miami-Dade County will have are 45 facades.  Most services will be self-service.  Books will become outdated.  Computers will break but will not be replaced because they will not be able to keep replacements in stock.  There will not be staff to repair damaged equipment in a timely fashion.  You can reserve an item but they will not be able to tell you when you can expect it, so drive to wherever it is and you can get it sooner.  Programs will be nonexistent with no staff to do toddler stories, or children’s programs or team events or assistance programs for the elderly. 

A System with 45 buildings that includes a Main Library, five regionals, soon to be six when Aventura opens in 2014 and less than 200 staff members to keep them running and offering services to the community.  You do the math and are very simple that this numbers does not lie. 

The future is bleak for this once honored Library System.  Patrons will become angry with staff because of the reduction in services, the lack of up to date technology and online products, as well of materials available at each branch.  They will complain to managers and administrators who share their concerns but are helpless to do anything about it because resources will just not be available.  Upset and disillusioned patrons will leave the system.  Wealthy and educated municipalities will be fed up with the situation and take back their branch thereby further reducing the funding for the system.  Finally it will fall into mediocrity and become just another government bureaucratic animal that serves no one but it’s nice to have it in the County’s portfolio as a great place to live. 

A rich vibrant Library is a direct link to all our communities but their primary importance is to those who do not share many of the benefits offered by our society.  Those who for financial reasons are not able to afford a computer and cannot afford to pay for courses to teach who to use technology to better their life.  Libraries bridge this gap by providing opportunities to those disadvantaged segments of our communities and as they grow they can become productive members of our society. 

It is not hard to see why politicians like Mr. Gimenez are not able to see the value that libraries bring.  They see police and corrections and see crime statistics.  With Fire you see lives saved and property protected from fire.  But how do you measure a four year old who learns the love of reading and the drive to search for answers that will make him/her a success twenty years down the road.  Or a teenager who spends his time on a computer or in a teens program instead of on the streets with the wrong crowd.  A choice to follow learning and development instead of a life of crime and violence.  What is the value of this decision?  I can assure you that many do but we do not follow them during the next decade of their life to see what the seed of knowledge and hunger for truth germinates into an asset for society. 

I hope you think about these facts and see the damage that is being done, not just to 169 families facing layoff, but the number of underserved persons throughout this County who will no longer have a place ready and willing to help when the need arises.

Sincerely,

Library Employee 169

 

 

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Idle Time – from Library Employee 192

When I looked into becoming a Big Brother/Big Sister through the United Way a few months ago, one of the counsellors told me that there are children living in South Florida who have never been taken to a bakery.  She told me there are children in our county who have never been driven across the causeway and so they have never seen the ocean.

Now, with the county mayor’s irresponsible decision that there are too many libraries in our neighborhoods, four will be closed, and the other 45 will be partially closed.  Severely cut hours renders a library useless.

I wonder how many children will never be able to access a library. When just one falls between the cracks, the ripple effects have the potential to harm us all.  If children don’t have the opportunity to create, they will use their idle time to destroy.

Library Employee 192

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To Library Employees #1 – 192

From: Someone whose been around the block a few times.

Today is my birthday and without revealing my age I can say that I have been working for MDPLS for nearly one third of my life. Like many others, I came to librarianship as a third career. I know there are some who have been here for half their lives and more. I’m not here to tell you that things will get better because I don’t know that they will. I’m not here to give you some profound advice because I don’t have any. I’m only here to tell you that, while I may not get laid off, I feel the pain too.

 

The anger and the hurt that I am experiencing is because of what is happening to all of us and this library system. I can’t possibly know all of you but I know some of you and have heard of most of you, I may have even hired you or promoted you. Some of you I have known for years and quietly watched you grow into passionate, caring professionals. I know a young lady who started as a page in a tiny store front with just me and two other staff members who has gone on to become first a library assistant, then an intern/trainee and now a fully degreed librarian – married to another past intern/trainee with two children of their own. I know a young man who promoted from a page/shelver directly to Library Assistant 2 then Library Assistant 3 and very quickly to Circulation Services Supervisor. A young man who impressed me so much with his attitude, kindness, and hard-work ethic I was moved to tell a colleague that if I had a son I would want him to be just like that.

 

I know of at least two people who are likely to be laid off for the second time in as many years. I can’t wrap my head around that. It seems impossible to me that we haven’t been able to improve our situation in the last two years yet not only have we not improved but we’ve gotten worse. In 2011 we lost about 250 people, part-time and full-time included. We cut hours and committed managers and other staff to doing double and triple duty; going from branch to branch just to keep the doors open. We have gone above and beyond the five-star commitment to make those first cuts seem harmless but they have been far from that. Now we are cutting even deeper. It’s no longer possible to keep faking it. Make no mistake about it, this library system is being dismantled. Keep the footprint and destroy the organization that built that footprint. That’s what our mayor and commissioners are telling us to do. We will not have 49 libraries or homework centers or technology centers; we will have 49 shells. Hollow, empty, and lifeless shells.

 

I am saddened beyond measure at what we are losing. Staff who so love this library system that they took a chance a second time to come back after being laid off only to be slapped in the face with another pending layoff. Staff who worked full-time while attending library school, sacrificing time with their families and spending thousands of dollars to get a piece of paper that some hold worthless. The future of MDPLS lies with all of you – the young and not so young, newly degreed librarians as well as others who came to us from elsewhere. Unfortunately, that future looks very bleak right now. We are losing our best and brightest, the most passionate and driven, the up and coming; and it is those who we need the most.

 

On my résumé I call myself a librarian, coach and mentor. I have a problem with this now. How do you mentor someone who is getting laid off – again? How do you coach people through this without losing your own mind? I wish I knew. I think our political “leadership” is broken. The mayor has a broken ideology that libraries and their staff don’t matter. The commissioners that don’t value us are broken. This community is broken. And worst of all, if this plan goes through as expected, this library system is broken beyond repair.

Just like our hearts.

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Letter from Employee #192

In the summer of 2011, the Arcola Branch Library, 49th in the network of 49 neighborhood libraries, opened on the site on an abandoned drive-in movie theater.  Forty years of blight was finally replaced with county government’s $4.525 million investment in the future of Liberty City.
The story below was one of the repercussions of $7.4 million drained from the library system ‘s 2009-10 budget the year before. The library’s money was granted to a list of organizations that provide high end art exhibits  and concert series.Taxpayers had no say in the decision that library hours and library programs such as free tutoring were being cut.  The 250  library staff affected went quietly.  The public, for the most part, only thought that the library system had hours reduced.
 Here’s how it felt for one of the survivors as he prepares to be a victim of the next tidal wave of 192 layoffs.
He will be one of our finest who will be told to leave for good. This is his story:
A pat on the back and a kick in the teeth seldom come on the same day.
Although the library staff  knew they’d be coming close together. We were waiting for them both.
But not on the same day.
It was supposed to be our day of triumph.
We were opening the new library for Arcola Lakes.
We had given one of the poorest neighborhoods a state of the art library that would be envy of the richest.
They loved it.
The people swarmed this palace of self-improvement filled with brand new books, brand new computers, brand new furniture, brand new everything.
In one month we had gone from bare walls and bare floors to this.
Soon, we were helping everyone, from hard-working immigrants trying to keep up with USCIS paperwork to young mothers needing advice on helping their child stop struggling with reading.
And today was the grand opening.
There was the mayor, the county commissioner, our library director and half dozen other VIPS. Several classes of children from Arcola Lake Elementary came with their teachers. Even my old high school teacher, now a school librarian herself, was there to see it.
The speeches were said. The applause, but not the glow from the achievement, faded away.
The mayor shook my hand. He shook all of our hands.
The VIPs left. Everyone relaxed.
And then they came.
They came with the layoff letters.
A demotion for my manager.
A demotion for me.
A termination for my new Trainee.
 Transfers for some of the rest.
We were honored for our effort, then scattered to the four winds. All on the same day.
It hurt but until this July I counted myself lucky and felt my fate was hard but someone had thought it necessary to keep the library intact.
The library would go on and I would still able to serve. We would still get the job done.
Mine must’ve been the easiest letter to hand out that day. I could live with this.
But I was sad for my manager.
We had all worked with dogged dedication when things were grim,and with great enthusiasm when they were not.
But more than all the rest, she had poured her heart into that library.  It was not just a building or a collection. It was seen as an opportunity to affect the future course of the community  She was a great manager.
She deserved better. They all deserved better.
So, we took the severe layoffs two years ago with barely a murmur and little public action.
And this year,  we just cannot. We cannot be silent or silenced.
Because then, as bad as it was, only our own jobs were at stake, and not the library herself.
Self-interest is not enough to get a librarian to rally in the streets.
This year is different, like night and day.
This time they’re gutting the library and stuffing her carcass with empty promises.
On the outside the library will look almost the same.
But when people go inside to order a book or ask for computer help they will find that little remains but rags and bones.
All too often they will walk up and the doors will simply be closed.
Our county mayor wants to save the “footprint of the library”. A footprint is good to look at but not much else. A footprint is a memory, nothing more.
status terminated

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Library Employee #1

Did you know?

14 Libraries of the Miami Dade Public Library System are facing closure come October. Another 8 will become “Technology Homework Centers” and will be open for only 20 hours during the week — operated by part-time staff who are not librarians or trained staff.  251 library staff will be laid off, despite years of service and dedication.

If you’re asking yourself, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” or “How did I not know?” it is because we, the librarians & library staff, cannot tell you.

County employees cannot speak on issues that involve county matters to the press or the public while on the job. This is because their words can be misconstrued as being the official voice of the County.

From the Employee Manual:

II. POLITICAL ACTIVITIES: County Administrative Order AO 7-2
All County employees may express their opinions on any candidate or issue and participate in any political campaign during his or her off duty hours so long as such activities are not in conflict with the prohibitions contained herein.
Our patrons remain uninformed of the crisis that our community faces because are tongues are tied by rules and policy. The children that have attended our story-time that we have watched grow over the years, the teens who come to hang out and do homework, the adults who come to computer class to learn to connect through social media, the teachers that check out a new set of picture books every week — and the list goes on and on — will remain in the dark until the doors are chained and shuttered on their local library.
All because of policy.
It is our hope, that with this page, we will be able to provide a voice to the librarians and staff who cannot tell you in person: “I’m sorry — your library is closing.” Please know that we care about you and we care about the community — and that we are trying our best to smile every day and to provide service every day despite knowing what is happening.

Thank you,

Library Employee #1

Library Employee #1

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by | August 6, 2013 · 6:25 am