Times are tough. I'm sure no one needs to tell Loudoun County Public Library or the Library of Virginia or Virginia Tech, or the College of William and Mary or Mountain Empire Community College or Ferrum College or the University of Richmond. Virginia's budget shortfall is affecting and will affect libraries, colleges, schools, and other educational institutions for the foreseeable future. The seven percent budget cuts that have turned into fifteen percent cuts loom large over collections, staffing, capital improvements, training, and all other activities.

A professional association like the Virginia Library Association certainly can't make this reality go away. It can, however, mitigate the effects of the state's budget crisis by offering excellent, regional education programs, and by helping members share expertise and ideas through its programs, conferences, and publications. Without traveling a single mile, by reading recent issues of Virginia Libraries you could learn about and identify in-state resources for:

  • better management for your electronic resources
  • dynamic Web pages
  • successful staff in-service days
  • library art shows
  • building a better bookmobile
  • talking to your legislator

Recent VLA continuing education programs have included:

  • prospering in changing times
  • excellent customer service
  • understanding the census
  • business resources

As a VLA member, you would only pay $80.00 to register for all the above workshops-a deal that Governor Warner could appreciate!

This issue of Virginia Libraries presents VLA members with resources and expertise in a variety of areas. Sam Clay, Director of Fairfax County Public Library, relates the lessons his library learned when its computers had to be turned off for several days. Let the Fairfax experience begin to guide your library as you contemplate the myriad viruses, worms, hackers, power out-ages, and other man-made catastrophes that could befall your systems.

April Bohannan's article on spreading your wings reminded me of Ann Friedman's article on Arlington Public Library's swift proactive response to the tragedies of September 11, 2001 (see v.48:no.1). April encourages us to think of our library skills in innovative ways. What are we good at, and how might those skills translate into help for our parent organizations? Tough economic times require each of us to put on as many hats as possible. Ann's example and April's exhortation might help you "think outside the box" about your skills and your library's role.

Tight budgets can actually provide incentives to reach out and incorporate evaluative or money-saving practices into procedures that may have become stale. Lynda White's article on UVA Libraries' benchmarking initiative in its shelving demonstrates both how library managers can learn from and use business techniques to improve practices and how a library can examine systems and operations at similar institutions and incorporate "best practices" into its own routines.

As we approach our 2003 joint conference with the Virginia Association of Law Libraries, Jane Harrison's article gives VLA members some background and insight into VALL. With budgets tight, it might pay off to get to know your local law librarian!

Finally, for more than 100 years the Federal Depository Library Program has exemplified a cost-effective government program for sharing resources. Virginia depository libraries have now taken the additional step of formulating a plan to better coordinate and share their resources, experience, and expertise with each other and with other libraries. Janet Justis and Walter Newsome tell us about their plan and how it can help all libraries in the Commonwealth give our users better access to government information.