Budget Cuts and Avoiding Layoffs

Everyone is worried about the economy these days for a lot of good reasons. Library workers know that we have to worry about budget cuts even when the economy’s doing pretty well.  College library departments usually don’t bring in the same ways that classes or athletic programs do and thus we’re often one of the first departments under scrutiny when there’s a crunch. This post will discuss how you can make some arguments against budget cuts.

ALA Tough Economy Toolkit

” The toolkit contains information on how to work with decision-makers, ways to work with the media, and talking points to help libraries articulate the role of libraries in times of economic downturn. Talking points on the economic value of libraries, with return-on-investment examples; libraries and the economy; and upswings in library usage are included.  Users are also invited to share their stories of how they have successfully advocated. Recent media coverage of libraries is also featured.”


Recently the topic of library layoffs was discussed on the cjc-l list. These were some of the points that came up in how to argue against such layoffs:

What to do if your admininistration is talking about cutting staff?

-Prove there’s a need. Having hard stats about foot traffic, how the library is making a positive effect can be helpful

-Depending on your school, say that would mean cutting hours. Some administrators work set 8 – 5 schedules and don’t realize that it’s hard to staff the library from 8am – 9pm or 10pm with only a couple of people. Cutting back hours may be more feasible for some than others–many administrators don’t really want library hours being cut back very drastically

-Consider whether your staff if the most vital not to lay off. Nobody wants anyone else getting laid off, but try to look at the big picture at your campus–if some part-time people have to be laid off, are the staff in the library or a testing center etc. most vital?

-Changing job descriptions or making full-time positions part-time can save jobs for some

-Focus on the impact on weakening of library services to students, not on how layoffs could overwork remaining staff members

We’ll put out more on this subject, but community college libraries fill a different niche than university libraries, public libraries, or K-12 libraries, and we need slightly different ways to advocate for ourselves.

What’s the experience at your library? What kind of budget cuts are you experiencing or worried about? Are you fighting back in some different way?


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