May Musings after "the fall"

The State of N.C. budget gates came crashing down in mid-April, and it left us all somewhat stunned. We are actually sending books back to publishers and vendors, we’ve stopped the approval plan and only a very few invoices are getting paid. It’s like molasses. Most database renewals are being held and thankfully the vendors are being great about it. Next fiscal year is going to be so very strange and different. The molasses condition will probably continue in many ways and we’re going to be faced with a whole new way of doing things.

The .05 pay cut for May and June isn’t so bad but what comes in the future might be worse. Much worse. I hear on the news about companies pulling pensions out from underneath people who have been retired for years and I have to ask myself, what if? So, I have a little retirement nest egg that has shrunk considerably with the economic down turn and of course I am ever hopeful that market conditions will improve with time, but if they don’t and the state retirement system is compromised, then I suppose we’ll be screwed.

That’s the worst case scenario. Actually, what would be worse is catastrophic illness or accident to wipe us out, which is easily possible. We’ve got health insurance but nowadays health insurance is not guaranteed either.

On that bright note (!) I am happy to report that the NASIG conference is still happening in spite of it all. And though the economy sucks and swine flu threatens and everything else, I think we’ll all enjoy the scene in Asheville, those of us who can get there. Of course most places have trimmed back to little or no travel funding which is also a new reality that isn’t very pleasant. I am just beside myself wondering what newly hired tenure-track faculty are going to do about national service commitments and the like.

In spite of all of this gloom and doom, I continue to feel very blessed to be where I am, and with the people I am working with. Tomorrow is our “Staff Development Day” where we close the library, come together for a nice breakfast and a rousing speech from an outside speaker (this year it’s Stephen Abram from SirsiDynix) and then we engage in various activities that help us “kick back” from the every day grind. It’s great to be able to do this. This year we are inviting our colleagues from Elizabeth City State U. and Laupus Health Sciences Library at ECU since these two libraries are going to be sharing in our new library catalog which is in the process of being set up as I write.

It has been a beautiful spring in Eastern NC, and though I miss the western part of the state in so many ways, it’s OK being here. Except for tornadoes – I don’t want them, don’t like them and was not happy to have had one strike 2 blocks from my house! But I have a great little weather radio that alerts me when the weather gets funky.

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