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LETTER: Criticism of library mailings presents a biased picture

Editor, The Spotlight;

Recently, a local television station published an opinion segment critical of the money which the Guilderland Public Library spends to inform the citizens we serve about the library’s programs, services, and collections.

The station was critical of the fact that the GPL sends out a quarterly newsletter, a monthly postcard, and occasional press releases in paper form, as if these practices were somehow inherently wasteful. The segment then suggests that all such communication could take place via email and social networking.

While the library has an email distribution list, and presences on Facebook and Twitter, we, like many organizations, have found it most effective to reach out to all members of the community via means with which they are comfortable.  There are many members of this community who do not have computers and internet access, and/or prefer reading printed materials.  A recent analysis of our spending — all a matter of public record — indicates that we currently spend 53 cents per year per citizen to keep Guilderland residents informed.

The library strives to maximize the efficient use of tax dollars in all respects, and in fact, has been working this year to further reduce the money we spend on paper communication.  Ordinarily, we are happy to be scrutinized, even criticized by the media — it can have the effect of making us better.  However, the segment in question was not only extremely biased against the library — and by extension all libraries and public entities, but it contained an egregious inaccuracy which we prefer not to ignore. 

The station claimed that because they “brought this issue to light, the library says they are now looking at more ways to save money,” and then takes credit for a cost-saving idea which we thought of back in January, and have recently implemented.  In brief, we have eliminated eight monthly postcard mailings, thereby saving over $10,000 per year in printing, mail sorting, and postage costs.   The savings is being wisely invested in a Capital Reserve Fund to address maintenance issues in our beautiful, 22-year-old building, which is beginning to show its age in ways we will need to address over the coming years. 

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