Thursday, May 20, 2010

Speaking of budgets

My blog post on Tuesday has sparked some emails, blog comments and side conversations.

First of all, I understand the NSLS has truly thought about the disposition of all of its services.  Sarah Long and her staff are to be commended for the way they are going about there reduction in staff and services.  It cannot be an easy job emotionally for any of them.

Nylink is also communicating clearly about their changes and I'm sure BCR must be doing the same.  Those conversations via the web, email and face-to-face are surely difficult.  Sadly, I know that there will be other organizations that will need to have similar conversations in the coming months.

Second, it is clear that some governments are delaying the adoption of a new budget so that the tough decisions are not made by them, but are made by other who much cancel services, eliminate staff, etc.  If I don't give you the money that you need, then I'm not responsible for the cuts that you have to make in order to survive.  It is not a helpful strategy.

But more importantly, it is clear that in some situations this current budget crisis is on top of prior tight budgets.  Personally, we're taught to save for a rainy day, but our cultural heritage organizations may not have been able to do that.  Businesses are told to have several months of operating funds in the bank, in case something goes wrong.  Do our cultural organizations live by the same rule?

And one more thing...and this is quite adults, we're told to prepare for our "end".  We buy insurance and create wills, living wills, DNRs (do not resuscitate), etc.  Part of that is ensuring that whatever we leave behind is taken care of properly.  Do we do the same thing for our organizations, our services, our assets, etc.?  Do we talk to "Uncle Frank" to see if he's take over our digital assets if anything should happen to us?  Do we make an agreement with the neighbor to care for our most valuable books?  Do we know that our most prized possessions will find good homes?  These are "what if" conversations that do need to happen.

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