There are a seeming endless supply of programs highlighting how to do more (or as much) with less. At best, reduced budgets are opportunities to streamline workflows and trim unnecessary materials from the collection. However, after years of trimming, most (if not all) libraries are left with only difficult decisions: which resources to cut and which services to adjust.
While creativity, a good hustle, and streamlining are always worth exploring, we need to do a better job or leveraging these difficult realities into opportunities to manage expectations. Librarians often end up working extra hours to make up for the difference in a misguided attempt to gain/maintain favor with stakeholders (e.g., faculty, attorneys, students). Instead of focusing on tough decisions and which is the better of two (or more) evils, we should be clarifying what can be realistically accomplished given our resources. If more is required, the realistic options include:
1) clarifying/shifting priorities,
2) new funding/support,
3) reduction in collection, services, or speed.
Let's bring together representatives across all library sectors who have successfully initiated these difficult conversations, describe the outcome, what they would do differently, as well as what they believe led to a positive outcome.