One of the constant threats that small libraries have to contest with is threat of closure. In Vermont where I live many small libraries just barely stay open because people in the town advocate for them and the decision ultimately rests with the town. If they want to pay for it, they get to keep it. In Indiana there is a movement afoot to consolidate the state’s libraries to, I believe, one per county. It’s at the initial stages, a plan by the governor, at this point. Small libraries are discussion the issue wiht their boards, and other libraries. The plan would cut the total number of libraries from 238 to 92 via consolidation. This would, apparently save property tax money and “streamline” government somewhat. We’re talking about a state that has advertisements on its government site search. The Indiana State Library website doens’t have any immediately available information on this topic that I could find through basic searching.
It’s pretty clear that this would mostly shift library costs to the patron (travel, re-learning systems, fees?) and staff (lost jobs, retraining, commuting) and away from the funding bodies. So, sure there is money to be saved but would a reorganization scheme actually work? I find the concept chilling but I haven’t really started reading about it yet. For people who are interested in this issue, I suggest the Save Our Small Public Libraries blog and the INpublb archives (view by thread to find consoludation discussions) [ttw]