The aim of this paper is to present the initiatives that libraries and information services should take from the standpoint of management or services in times of economic crisis or recession such as the one currently occurring. When budget cuts, downsizing and cuts in equipment are continuous, it is important to reflect on the path that each library should take to overcome the crisis while providing users the services they require.
There are projects internationally, including, inter alia, Pulman and Calimera, which highlight the supportive role of lifelong training, of both formal and informal education and of the libraries' contribution to social and economic development. They even claim that along with archives and museums, libraries should collaborate in developing a strong local economy by supporting local businesses and industry in different ways (offering information services, stimulating the acquisition of basic skills and providing career guidance). Logically, the public library is not the only – and may not even be the principal agent or the one most associated with this problem – which can address job insecurity, economic hardship and people's need for training. However, in the author's view it can have a significant and active role, in coordination with other agents, and it is important to take advantage of its potential: its collections, the training of its staff members, its familiarity with the everyday life of towns and cities, its openness to everyone without any preconditions, etc.
In recent years some libraries have seen their financial resources reduced, or have remained stagnant in face of an increased demand for service. A first consideration in this context, which might be very hard but is unavoidable when faced with such a reality, is the need to rethink which services to keep and which to reduce or cancel if there is insufficient funding. At times it is necessary to choose what to do without.
Public libraries are increasingly becoming more of a social space where all people can go for information, learning and culture, regardless of their age, level, training or background. The library as a resource, which in many cases is public, and which enables individuals to enjoy their right to information should be defended to the fullest in times such as these. Also, to the greatest extent possible, libraries should be used in a compensatory manner, targeting people with fewer resources who are in need of skills that enable them to return to the workplace or reduce the consequences of lack of income.
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