The Topnotch Library That Can’t Afford Book Groups
Posted by: Ted Balcom
Many of us who live in the Chicago suburban area weren’t surprised when the Nichols Library in Naperville was recently named a Five Star Library by Library Journal. The library has been consistently voted No. 1 in DuPage County. What has startled us, however, is the news that the library has decided to eliminate its three book groups as part of major budget cuts taking effect in May.
The library has announced that it will no longer be able to afford any outside facilitators after being told to slash $1.5 million from its fiscal budget by the Naperville City Council. Also being cut back are the library’s computer classes.
The library has held book groups for more than 20 years. Originally they were led by library staff, but when their workload became too great, outside facilitators were brought in.
After reading about this unfortunate situation, I wondered if the library had considered looking for volunteers to lead its book groups, rather than abandoning them. Other libraries that I’m familiar with do utilize volunteers as discussion leaders, with excellent results. My other reaction was questioning if the library staff couldn’t possibly juggle their responsibilities to include the leadership and coordination of at least one book group, perhaps with several staffers sharing the planning and facilitating duties.
It just seems such a shame that a library with a Five Star reputation won’t be offering any book groups to the community in the coming year.