Buffalo Business First reports that Young Audiences of Western New York (YAWNY) will be joining Literacy Volunteers and Project Flight in occupying space in the Central Library. YAWNY gains larger quarters, access to the library’s 324-seat auditorium and hopefully more visibility on the library’s second floor location, which recently housed a now defunct teen room. The library in turn is slated to collect $2,400 in annual rent and receive in-kind services and programming of between $3,000-$14,400 per year. Apparently, the plan is to create a hub of arts activity in the Central Library that will expand out to some of the city branches and presumably benefit the entire community.
It’s wonderful that the library is embracing the arts and developing partnerships with local nonprofits that may have the potential to enrich the community that the library serves. But at the cost of further marginalizing librarians and traditional services? How, if at all, are librarians and other experienced library staff interacting with these new nonprofits, which in the case of YAWNY, plans to add new employees and interns? As other nonprofits expand within the library, the system itself (at least in the city) seems to stagger, gasp and contract, with traditional services such a librarians, books and space breathing their last breaths. Is there a long-range plan and vision other than the consolidation offered by a special library legislative district? And if so, library leadership should share it with staff and the community. If no plans exists, it’s time to get moving.