Like you, staff have been trying to understand the Community
Engagement Findings and Recommendations.I decided to look most closely at the surprises, because they are where
Here are some of the surprises
·Lack of need and lack of
time were the strongest arguments for non-use:However much we want to succeed at our traditional role, we must respond
to that reality.We need to fill needs not
satisfied by other sources and deliver services in a time-saving way.Reinstatement of virtual reference services
and options for out-of-branch holds pickup and return are needed.
·While it is often a truism
that everyone wants more of everything, when our respondents had specific
requests it was for both more self-service options and more personal interactions.
“High tech and high touch” is clearly not dead.
·It is comforting -- when an
adverse policy or budget constraints or training deficits threaten our
performance -- to blame others around us, either above or below in the org
chart.But, leadership skills must be
robust and diffused throughout the organization.We all need to be more skilled and
empowered at the point of service.We
need to own the outcomes we create.
·We do not speak with one
voice.We haven’t found that voice and
so we contradict and undermine our message.It is critical to find that one voice and commit to a unified
message.We can’t do that without
hearing the needs, fears, and hopes that we and our patrons share -- and then
creating a strategic service model.
·IF our near-term reality is
a budget much the same as the current one, how do we shift its application to
respond most effectively to the changes this community engagement report
requires?All of us need to look for
dramatic (not trivial) efficiencies in non-customer facing processes to
optimize customer-facing impact.We
cannot evade that challenge.
Just yesterday, FCPLEA Delegates from each branch and
department had the chance for a long, wide-ranging conversation with Jessica
Hudson at Kings Park Library.
·We learned more about the various
systems, branches, and service experiences Jessica has had.
·We shared concerns and
hopes for maximizing our technology and collection impacts.
·We exchanged dreams for
more children’s space and programming, options for customizing service
exceptions, and warnings about impending cold and snow (which Jessica cannot
At Staff Day I attended a session facilitated by
a moderator from the Harwood Institute.He walked us through one brief exercise for building community
understanding of local needs.Deep
conversations that help us discover our common concerns and aspirations is
freeing and inspiring.More of that
experience is what we hope for from our Strategic Planning process.
Deb Smith-Cohen President, Fairfax County Public Library Employees Association
Antonio Olivo has written an article about Fairfax County Public Library. It appeared in the print edition of the Washington Post newspaper yesterday. Included is this quote from the new library director:
Though Hudson did not rule out program cuts in the future, she said she intends to be strategic about where they are made.
prefer as much as possible to try and spread out budgetary cuts so
we’re having impact but it’s not so painful for any one particular
group,” Hudson said. “Every budget dollar that we have goes toward some
value for someone.”
The Finance Committee of the Library Board will meet October 7 at 10 a.m. at the Fairfax Library to discuss the FY2018 library budget. We should get an idea at that time of what cuts the new library director and the Department of Management and Budget have in mind.The meeting is open to the public, but there will be no public comments allowed.
Here is a link to the entire article by Olivo: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/meet-the-woman-charged-with-remaking-fairfax-countys-library-system/2016/09/20/a551623e-7b55-11e6-beac-57a4a412e93a_story.html#comments
Even after as many years as most of us have been out of school, September still feels like a time to jump into new things, to buckle down on things we’ve put off during a hot and busy summer, and to be even more ambitious about learning. This year is no exception.
At last week’s Staff Day, speakers from ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries and the Harwood Institute inspired us with ideas on how to imagine, collaborate, experiment, and deliver the evolving services our communities want. Several sessions allowed us to play with new technologies and raised another set of possibilities. Some of us valued the opportunity to check out benefits options and get personal health insights. All of us were elated to spend time with former colleagues and make new friends.
We must extend this learning spirit so all of us can stretch our abilities together and dare things we’ve never tried in an environment of shared discovery and trust.
An impressive number of residents, staff, and Friends attended the Community Engagement Initiative presentation last Wednesday and staff are still taking in the formal report to sift out its gold. Finding ways to understand those insights, identify the opportunities, and assign actionable priorities will be our collective focus for the next several months.
We also look forward to learning how FCPL will translate this effort into a responsive and creative strategic plan that represents the best we can deliver to all of our library users, potential users, and stakeholders.
Finally, we must – and we will -- find the courage to address the disconnects exposed by this study together.
We need candid, transparent, and wide-ranging exchanges that engage staff at all levels in understanding and contributing to our future success. The path to a unified system and shared vision will require us to confront some thorny truths, require a commitment to mutual respect, and necessitate new ways of communicating. Staff look forward to opportunities to be part of a process that will move us toward clarity and build a culture that embraces innovation, excellence, and solidarity.
We thank you for the time and effort you will put into advising and approving the plans developed, and hope you too are itching to put your “pencil to paper” as we start a new season and write the bright future of FCPL.
Deb Smith-Cohen Fairfax County Public Library Employee Association President Statement to Library Board of Trustees September 14, 2016
notes formed the basis of Dennis Hays' comments to the Library Board of
Trustees held on September 14th. Mr. Hays is the Chairman of the
Fairfax Library Advocates.
Thank you for
this opportunity to address you. Like everyone else in this room, I
have been trying to digest all the material presented in the Community
Engagement Report (the report) released a week ago this evening. In
general, I find the report's analysis to be excellent, but several of
its recommendations are unwarranted and counterproductive. As I am
permitted only a very limited amount of time to speak (3 minutes), I
will focus on three specific recommendations.
Plan: The report notes in section 7.2.3 that "The Library Board needs
to focus on strategy and policy, not operations." I fully agree.
Further, the Virginia Code and the Charter of the Trustees as granted
by the Board of Supervisors also charge the Trustees with responsibility
for "library function, policy and direction." This is good and
standard management practice - the Board develops and sets the strategic
vision and policies, the staff carries out these policies. And yet,
the report recommends (section 5.3.3) that a new strategic plan be
developed by the Library Director. This is not only inappropriate and
inefficient, it is not even possible given the Trustees charter. The
Board cannot delegate its responsibility to set the strategic vision.
The Board must develop the new Strategic Plan.
librarians serving as Trustees: The report strongly condemns the
service of former librarians on the Board of Trustees, saying this is a
conflict of interest (section 7.2.3). This is absurd. The former
librarians bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Board that
would be unattainable from any other source. They are no longer active
employees and thus have no conflict of interest. We are very fortunate
they are willing to continue to serve our community. I also note the
School Board has former teachers, the Park Authority former park
employees and every other board in the nation draws on the very
individuals who best know their areas of interest.
for a strong healthy library system: The report also condemns
"advocates" as "tarnishing" the behavior of Friends groups (section
7.3.2). This despite the fact that the report repeatedly calls for the
involvement of all "stakeholders" in all aspects of the library. The
report defines Friends activities as "supporting, assisting and
promoting library activities." In other words, advocating.
I am struck by
how often the recommendations are at odds with the analysis - when
there is any specific analysis to begin with. For example, there is no,
repeat no, discussion or analysis supporting any of the three
recommendations noted above anywhere in the report. It is as if someone
added these sections after the rest of the report had been written.
the Trustees to treat this report as a starting point for further
discussion and analysis but to also remember that some specific
recommendations have no basis in the analysis, good management practice
or even common sense. They should be rejected immediately so that more
serious issues can be considered.
What do Fairfax County residents want to see at their local library?
The answer to that question will be revealed during a public meeting
Consultants hired by the Library Board of Trustees are slated
to reveal the findings of a recent public engagement project during a meetingat the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway) on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.
At 48,000 sq ft, the API building is big enough to house Reston Regional Library which will be bulldozed to make way for residential high-rise buildings in Reston Town Center.
The county has said they want 39,000 sq ft on the ground floor of one of the residential towers for the new library; however, parking will be limited. The middle of Reston Town Center is not an ideal location for a regional library. Additionally, the community will have no library during construction and that could be 2 to 4 years.
There is $10 million available in library bond funds to pay for the new regional library.
Here is the petition which has more information on Marcel Breuer and the API building. Please sign the petition by June 13 so signatures can be sent to the Fairfax County Planning Commissioners.
Fairfax County's Architectural Review Board has asked that the county reconsider bulldozing the American Press Institute (API) building on Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston. They believe the building, designed by Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer, has historic architectural significance and should not be taken down and replaced with townhouses. API is the only building in Virginia designed by Breuer.
This building at 48,000 sq feet is large enough to house a regional library. It's in an excellent location. The $10 million library bond approved by voters is enough to purchase and renovate the building. Current development plans for the library parcel in Town Center North and for the API site on Sunrise Valley Drive need to be paused to consider an adaptive reuse of the API building as a public library.
Please write the Planning Commissioners and the Board of Supervisors as soon as possible to ask that this option be considered.