Library budget issues

Michelle Parker

More stories from Michelle Parker

Summer days
June 2, 2017

Megan Marshall

Laptops can be used in the library, as well as a variety of books.

A library conjures images of tall oak bookcases and overstuffed leather chairs to curl up and read a book in. Our library is far off from that warm haven of literature. With stiff plastic chairs, covers falling off books, and bookshelves half full, the library can be less than inviting to students.

In a high school library, it’s expected that the books and activities provided are on par with the students’ levels. Instead, the library provides colouring books and a rainbow loom kit. In what world would this be acceptable in a high school library?

Walking into the library, it’s disappointing to see shelves left half empty. It’s clear that the library has the budget to purchase new books, yet chooses to prioritize the budget elsewhere. The only way half full bookcases are acceptable is when a library does not have the budget to fill them. In our library’s case, this isn’t true at all, as proven by the library’s spending on superfluous items. Whilst the library doesn’t need expensive furniture or the right aesthetic to be appealing, money could be used in a more proper way. Instead of purchasing expensive toys that disappear after a few days, the library should invest in purchasing a wider span of books.

Recently, the library bought a Sphero, a $130 gadget that can be controlled by an iPad and do tricks. It was made clear that this item was bought with library funds after a librarian’s verbal confirmation. The Sphero was out for a day before it disappeared. Even if the Sphero is available behind the scenes, most students have no idea where it is. While on one hand this leaves curiosity as to where these things are going, it’s important to focus on why this money is funnelled into ridiculous materials.

When money is actually spent on books, it doesn’t appear to be representative of library standards. For example, the library owns five Divergent books. Yes, it’s popular among teens, but compare that to one copy of Little Women. Maybe students would read classics like The Art of War (no copies) if the library bought those instead of another copy of Divergent.

These are the library’s main functions yet the stay unimproved through countless renovations. If students were encouraged to discover books they’d never heard of before, it might lead to an increase in reading. Not everyone likes the Divergent series or old historical nonfiction. Students not checking out more books is not a valid excuse for turning the library into a toy barn.

The library’s budget needs to be evaluated and prioritized to important things, like buying books. Half empty bookshelves are unacceptable in a library with more than enough funds to fill them. Instead of buying silly toys and expensive gadgets, the library should invest their money in a wider variety of books.