Monday, July 30, 2012

Greetings from Buffalo!

I recently received a comment from Beth Lewitzky, a librarian in Buffalo, and got permission to repost it here.  The comment gives an idea of what the situation is like at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and is posted in full below:

Hi, I just came across this blog and would like to link it my union's website, which I am the webmaster for (

Another interesting one that we have linked to and which has been controversial is This is a blog that pretty much tells it like it is in an often satirical manner. It serves as an outlet for the great frustration felt by much of the staff.

Things have been quite difficult at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library for some time, but a few of us are trying to change that, though without much hope. Administration has opened the door to renegotiate our contract after 6 years and I am trying to convince the full time staff to consider concessions in order to get the part-time librarian staff (over half of the dues paying membership and pretty much without any benefits!!) a bit more inclusion, though the "pie," arbitrarily or not, is quite small here in Erie County, NY. It is a challenging situation because the union has been dominated by librarian managers until recently (many have been laid off or left over the last 6 years). Most of what we have left are pretty much disenfranchised part-timers. Not a good thing for the profession, the system or the community.

I believe our system is where it is in part because it has tolerated mediocrity for so long, not encouraging the more progressive, activist and creative among staff, most of whom have gone elsewhere. We have allowed our library to be decimated and led without vision. And like so many others, we have bought into the rhetoric of fiscal belt-tightening, which means cuts and concessions for us below while the money goes elsewhere. So here we are with half the professional staff we had six years ago, closed branches, reduced hours and a vision that barely extends beyond Barnes & Nobles'. And for such a city like Buffalo that could benefit so much from a great library system. I'm sure this is a familiar story.

I am glad however to come across this site and would like to join the guild (and perhaps even begin a Buffalo chapter?), which sounds very much in line with what some of us here believe.

Beth Lewitzky

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to add that, though things are pretty bleak on the union/librarian front at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, there are some positive, community-enhancing activities happening in Buffalo and at the library itself. For example, tons of original art and music events are currently going on all over as part of the 2012 Infringement Festival; our harbor and other once derelict areas are being revitalized and opened to arts and music events and new businesses; the Central Library is partnering with other educational, arts-related and other nonprofit groups to bring new activity into the library, which is very exciting.

    Beth Lewitzky