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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Effects of the 2008 Icelandic Economic Recession on Libraries-- Article Review



As a current school librarian, managing a budget for my Media Center is both a blessing and a curse. I can manage money in the sense of spending it on the acquisition of materials that my students will enjoy, but then I worry about the accounting procedures. In the end, the biggest question is still and will forever be looming over my head--Will the library have enough money?

Iceland’s 2008 economic recession is quite similar to the one that also occurred in America and the results were just as catastrophic to budget spending, especially when it comes to libraries.

Between December, 2011 and April, 2012 the most noticed considerable cutbacks occurred in about a quarter of public libraries. Cuts differ between the anonymous libraries, but operational expenditures were the cause of strain on the budget. With the cost of keeping the library open rising, cuts had to be made within collection allocation and staffing. “45 percent of all the libraries show reductions of 30 percent or more. The highest level being over 70%” (Tryggvadottir, 2013).  

To better understand the effects that recessions have on libraries (because honestly, I’m unfortunately ignorant to the economics of such things), let’s take a look at two factors that would further explain what in the world is going on.

Employment
The participating libraries in this study recorded having a total of 225 employees in 2007. This number has a slight, yet steady decrease with having 218 employees in 2008, 216 in 2009, 209 in 2010, and 200 in 2011. Even though the math results in an average 11.111% decrease over the span of 4 years, the study does not mention what positions were eliminated, or how that affected overall productivity of the library. Wouldn’t this information be essential to how effective libraries were during this time frame?

Another aspect that I noticed while reading was that a large amount of changes were made in 2010, almost two years after the main events of the recession. Why did this occur? And again, wouldn’t this information be helpful in developing a more rounded idea of libraries’ effectiveness?

Materials
An obvious effect of the recession on a library would be the cuts made in collection allocation budgets. These budgets are evaluated yearly and reassessed so that libraries can maintain thorough collections that are relatable to their patrons. With budget cuts, collections run the risk of losing diversity, and being driven by popularity, which could become quickly out of date. Materials that also support local schools’ curriculums are also in dire need, but are often cut, thus resulting in a decrease in use by school age patrons. Lacking of school-age materials can also lead to a reduction of these patrons’ willingness to read, in turn resulting in negative effects on literacy. “Reading comprehension is generally decreasing among elementary school children...a clear connection has been shown between reading comprehension and students’ interest in reading books” (Tryggvadottir, 2013).


So, with these budget setbacks, and my previous experience with budgeting a school library, how are libraries in Iceland still able to fully serve their population of literary loving patrons?

To answer this, I will investigate the following:
-size of public library’s space, collection and staff
-annual budget for collection allocation
-programming sessions provided by the library
-role in the surrounding cultural community

The methods for investigating this will include tours of the facilities, interviews with staff members, and collection of statistics that will support analysis of searching goals.

Let the fun begin! :)


Works Cited

Tryggavadottir, E. (2013). Effects off economic recession on Icelandic libraries. Scandinavian Library Quarterly, 46(1).

Recap: Iceland Research Trip 2015

This past week, I had the very fortunate opportunity to travel to Iceland to complete research for my project studying International Librarianship as part of my Masters in Library Science. As part of the project, I read materials relating to the libraries of Iceland, studied aspects that I find most pertinent to my own career, and toured facilities to see how they functioned in relation to Icelandic cultural standards. This project was also efficiently conducted through a series of emails spanning from early November, 2014 when I decided to choose Iceland as my research subject, and may even continue past project submission, because quite frankly, I made quite a few connections that I wouldn't want to lose in relation to friendships that I had made on this trip. :)

In the next few days I will be blogging about each library I visited and what I found most useful to my studies, as well as a recap of sightseeing, etc. (because I'm sure you all want to know what Iceland is truly like). And don't worry, there will be pictures to help explain!

But first and foremost, there are quite a few thank yous that I would like to share. Travelling alone can cause quite a bit of stress, and in a country where English is not the first language, one can feel quite disconnected. These people, along with repetition of "I think I can", prayers being said, and deep meditative breathing, helped me in ways that I don't think that they knew of, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

þakka þér to everyone and anyone who has helped me on this incredible trip. I honestly could not have done it without you and your assistance.

Rosa, Frieda, Margret, for showing me their school libraries... Who knew that being the"new kid" for the day would so exciting!

Erla and Palina for showing me the City Library and how important literacy really is to Icelanders.

Kristina for telling me all about her UN Women's Rights project and offering to help me get on board with it.

Kristina and Orn from the National Library of Iceland for showing me the university library, and playing with manuscripts from the 1590's. Thank you for giving me that piece of history and for tempting me even more to move to Iceland.

All of the tour guides, hotel staff, bus drivers and random street walkers that stopped what they were doing to help the lost American girl in her khakis find the right way to go and for pronouncing street names correctly. Clearly I stood out and you helped me feel not so.

Zeke and Winston from New Zealand who loaned me gloves and a flashlight on the Northern Lights trip so that I wasn't "that girl" who'd get lost in the Icelandic highlands and lose her fingers to frostbite in the process.

Bobbi from Halifax who kept me awake in the Toronto airport so I wouldn't miss my flight to Reykjavik. AND to the Indianapolis Public School teachers who kept me awake in the Toronto airport on the return trip. It was great to talk academic standards and Game of Thrones with you :)

Sue and Alex from North Hampton who hiked Thingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir with me and took pictures for me so that I didn't have to keep doing selfies. Your goal of making me look classy succeeded.

Bodi from Reykjavik who offered to show me Reykjavik without looking like a tourist. Thank you as well for the hair tie at the Blue Lagoon, even though my hair is still awful from it.

Chris and Mindy from Columbus, Ohio....thank you for keeping me updated on March Madness while at a coffee bar. My mother would say you guys are good people because of your team.

George from Inverness-- thank you very much for that coffee when I needed it. No sleep for 24 hours is killer, and it must've shown.

The Boston crew-- thank you for being fun and inquiring why I was such a badass traveling alone. If people from Boston feel that, then it must be true. I'm sorry that I didn't tell you I was from Indiana until we departed.... :)

Mom, Dad and Tansy-- thank you for not freaking out when I said I wanted to go to a foreign country by myself. Your support, love and constant reminders to have a snack keep me going and we all know I would suffer without it.

My coworkers and classmates--thank you for the advice for travelling internationally... I'm sorry to let you down, but I did not get married on this trip.

Mahasin, hope you are having as much fun as I am.... International Librarianship FTW!

Andrea, THANK YOU for allowing me to Tara-fy things.

To anyone I may have missed, thank you for your support and effort to keep me sane in preparation of and duration of this trip... I sincerely hope that I can continue researching this field of how international libraries work, because honestly, this is an adventure that is just waiting to be had and I can't wait to continue exploring the world of information seeking. :)