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Lemonade In Brooklyn

To readers of this blog, Brooklyn is best known as a shabby wannabe borough where vagrants roast dead animals in the parks and residents dream longingly of life in glamorous Queens.

But the Brooklyn library system is setting an example not just for New York but for the whole United States: faced with cuts to its funds, the library is responding by making itself more efficient and offering better services to the public.

What is the secret?  From the New York Times:

In past years, librarians were forced to spend hours each day on administrative work before libraries even opened to the public. With many of these tasks now automated, Ms. Johnson implemented a system dramatically reducing librarians’ time on the clock during nonpublic hours.“We’re deploying our human resources in the way that makes most sense,” Ms. Johnson said. “Librarians will now be spending their time with patrons.”

Amazing: using technology to improve productivity so that you can do more with less.

Government’s failure to keep pace with the productivity increases in the private sector is at the heart of many of our problems today.  Making government more efficient should be a non-partisan cause.  It isn’t, largely because too many Democrats are under the thumbs of featherbedding unions, but also because a lot of Republicans would rather grandstand about taxes and social issues than do the hard policy work involved in serious government reform.

But cheaper, faster government is vital to the future of this country.  We need to get this done.

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  • Kenny

    “Making government more efficient should be a non-partisan cause. ”

    Good luck with that one, Mr. Mead, for then the Democrarts lose a good proportion of their constituency base.

    Take the Post Office that is now planning massive layoffs. As the story goes, the Post Office was deliberterly designed to be inefficient after WWII so as to sop up all the returning GIs who were of marginal 1) skill and 2) intelligence.

    Such a plan works when the country is booming and prosperity from the private sector can afford such a pseudo-welfare scheme. But those days are gone except in the minds of Obama and the Democrats.

    Democrats will not contribute to streamlining government; instead they’ll go down with the Blue State Model ship

  • Charming Billy

    As a librarian, I am pleased and not at all surprised to see librarians on the cutting edge of making the public sector more efficient and accountable. Public libraries have always been service oriented and open to new ideas. As a result they’ve retained public affection and support when many other public institutions are losing status.

  • Tom Lindmark

    A couple of weeks ago I happened to be driving through a mixed section of Phoenix and noticed a new building going up. A rare site in this ravaged economy. What drew my attention was the striking architecture and the manner in which it was integrated into the desert landscape. I stopped to see what it was all about and discovered it was a new public library.

    I grew up loving libraries and living in them, yet I can’t help but ask why so much money is being spent on facilities whose time is past. So props to the librarians who are employing technology to streamline and economize but shouldn’t we also be asking how we recreate the entire function of libraries to comport with technology.

  • Charming Billy

    The money is being spent on libraries because taxpaying voters are asking for libraries. What is so obsolescent about library facilities? Have you been inside a library lately to see what they’re doing?

  • Tom Lindmark

    Indeed I have been inside of one and in fact more than one and will readily concede that they are adapting quite well to the 21st Century.

    That having been said, I do question the expenditure of significant tax dollars, even if requested by the taxpayers, on bricks and mortar. For the cost of an edifice you could equip quite a lot of children and adults with PCs, Kindles, IPads and other digital paraphernalia. It is after all a wired, decentralized world.

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