It's a little past noon and after communicating with a bunch of people, including my board president, I am furious. Pissed, even. I don't know who I'm pissed at, because we have yet another public and complicated argument, this time about IT services. The last one was about cataloging. But the truth is, it's about the money. It's always about the money.
In order to truly understand the dilemma, there is one thing you need to know. It's the most important, sole, earth-shattering revelation you must keep in mind when trying to gain some insight.
It's always about the money.
I'm probably one of the most outspoken librarians in Lancaster County. Nobody really likes my opinion 100% of the time and I'm glad, because I'd make fun of them for being sheep. To put it in terms maybe others can understand, and having been married 3 times, which makes me an expert on the difference between fighting dirty and fighting fair, I will liken this whole situation to this:
A couple meets. They "fall in love," which does include providing beneficial "services" to each other. They marry. They have a couple kids, who are - just like real kids - all very different. One of them is an overachiever, one is really quiet and would never raise their voice, one of them has piercing and tattoos and a boyfriend named Moonbeam. No matter their personality, the parents try their best to treat them fairly. However, Mom and Dad, now overworked and knowing they can't keep this up anymore, have a conversation. There is yelling and words like "divorce" and "separation" hurled through the air. After the blow-up, the two of them both know they have to make a decision. They think about it a lot. They think about what their parents and their friends tell them to do. They also think they can't take that advice too seriously, because those people have only gotten their side of the story. They weigh their options. And, just like in relationships everywhere, some of the options aren't all about the other person. Mom thinks about having to find a new house and support herself. Dad looks at photo albums with smiles and family vacations from the past. Mom thinks about how Dad takes her for granted. Dad thinks the same about Mom. One night, after yet another huge fight, they both decide they need to sit down and have a real discussion about the fate of their marriage and what they're going to do with the kids.
Right there, at that moment, they sit down and talk....honestly, knowing that this conversation is going to be the end of something and the start of something new and scary. If they stay together, it is going to be hard and they're both going to have to work hard. If they separate, there will be custody hearings and child support. And then there are the kids themselves, who will all be deeply affected from this decision, all in very different ways. What about the kids? I know this discussion all too well - and my advice to this once-in-love couple is the exact same thing I wish would happen with libraries in Lancaster County.
Act like [#@$&] adults and figure something out. Communicate. Face-to-face. Own up to the stupid shit you've done in the past and start having family dinners each week so your kids have a shot of going to college and not running off to join the circus.
The public libraries and the library system have not yet sat down and had the "real" discussion. I'm not sure it's anyone's fault. As I've said before, the Library System of Lancaster County's board of directors are to blame for this in part. As the article states, after Joyce Sands (Lancaster Public Library) stood up and voiced her valid concern, moving onto the next agenda item without even a word is childish and shameful. I've never been to a meeting where that is done on a regular basis. And I go to A LOT of meetings.
Look, I don't like gossip - and if someone is going to tell me something, they should tell me to my face. At a meeting that my board president attended, he was told by a system board member that I am very difficult to deal with. What he actually said was meaner, and I'm not going to talk about that. It's for my board president to stew over, which he's been doing since the comment was made in front of other board members from other libraries. That board (System) is as endearing to me as a good case of the flu.
That being said, we are coming to the point in this story where Mom and Dad know they have to have "the talk." They've thought about their options - some of which are not predictable - and sat down at the table. This is where public libraries in this county are. I look forward to a seat at the table and a chance to really talk.
This has to happen soon. Really soon. If it doesn't, these public arguments will continue to seep into the news and hurt the real victims of this fight - the residents of Lancaster County.
I'm sure I'll get emails from folks involved after they read this. I usually do. But make it quick, because Moonbeam and I are thinking about taking a nap. I am on vacation after all.
Note: I love circuses. I would jump at the chance to run off with one. But it fit the analogy well.