Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Search Process for Library Director Announced

The following letter was sent out to Fairfax County Public Library Staff on December 15, 2015 by Deputy County Executive Dave Molchany and Chairman of the Library Board of Trustees Charles Fegan. 

We note that qualifications for a new Library Director may no longer include experience managing a large public library.  We also wonder how long the Deputy Library Director is anticipated to be in charge before the new Library Director is hired.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Washington Post: Wanted: Library Director Able to Fix Problems in Virginia's Largest System

With stellar health benefits and an annual salary of as much as $183,665, the job overseeing Virginia’s largest library system would seem easy to fill.  
But several candidates being considered by Fairfax County have decided they do not want the job— a reflection, officials and advocates say, of the challenge of finding a top-notch leader at a time when budgets are tight, experts are in high demand and the public is divided over the extent to which libraries should embrace a more digital approach.  
Initially hoping to fill the position by the end of this year, Fairfax officials have temporarily called off a nationwide search to replace library director Samuel Clay, who is set to retire in March and has been pilloried by book-lovers angry about Clay’s efforts to make county libraries less about print.

A person who was offered the director’s job earlier this month declined to take it, saying the area’s cost of living is too high, Fairfax officials said. Two other applicants withdrew from consideration after being interviewed, saying they didn’t think they were “a good fit” for the county, library board vice-chair Karrie Delaney said.

Citing confidentiality rules, county officials declined to name the applicants.

“We were thrilled” about getting close to hiring someone, said Charles Fegan, chair of the county’s Library Board of Trustees. “And, then, out of the blue, I got a telephone call or e-mail from the human resources department saying that the person had rejected the offer and would not consider it under any circumstances.”

Library Advocates Disappointed in County's Failure to Hire New Library Director


The Woodrow Wilson Library in Bailey's Crossroads has been beautifully renovated this year, but according to Fairfax Library Advocates, has 40,000 fewer books than it had in 2004.   

 Article from the Annandale Blog:
The Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees was supposed to have found a successor to outgoing Library Director Sam Clay by now but has so far failed to find a suitable replacement.

Even worse, reports Terry Maynard in the Reston 20/20 Blog, “the board does not intend to find one promptly.” 

Maynard reprints in his blog post a Nov. 6 memo from Library Board Chair Charles Fegan, stating: “We had a thorough process in place to identify the right candidate not only for our library system, but also for our staff, customers, and community. While we identified and interviewed several viable candidates during the process, some elected to withdraw. An offer was made to the selected candidate, but unfortunately, the offer was declined.”

After meeting with Deputy County Executive Dave Molchany and human relations staff, Fegan continued, “it was determined not to immediately proceed with launching a new recruitment search for the library director. However, we would like to reassess the current situation and work on the next step after the New Year.”

“That could well leave Clay in charge of the library,” Maynard says. “Over the last decade, he has led the destruction and demoralization of the county’s library system.”

Maynard lists some “low lights” over the past decade:

  • The library’s budget has been cut by more than 22 percent in the past 10 years.
  • Library spending as a share of the county budget has been cut by 30 percent and now is less than three-quarters of 1 percent of county spending.  
  • Library staffing per capita has decreased by more than 23 percent, and open positions are not being filled.
  • The county’s book collection has been cut by more than 20 percent, or more than half a million books, despite continuing growth in the county’s population.
  • Fairfax County Public Library ranks 15th among the 19 public library systems in the metropolitan D.C. area, according to the Library Journal.
“So much for attracting families and employers to Fairfax County and its ‘knowledge corridor,’” Maynard says. “Sam Clay has been a disaster for the county's libraries and their future. His continued ‘leadership’ of FCPL will only assure the continuing strangulation of our public libraries.”

Clay, the Library Board, and the Board of Supervisors “have driven our public libraries into such a budget and management hole that no qualified candidate apparently wants to take on the job of leading it,” Maynard charges. “To prevent further destruction of a vital county asset, Clay must go.”

The rest of the article can be seen here:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fairfax Federation: Library Collection Resolution, Approved October 29, 2015



Preservation of Shelving Space post Renovation

Approved by Federation Board, October 22, 2015
and Federation Membership, October 29, 2015


During the past decade the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has been unwilling to provide an adequate materials budget to replace lost, worn out and inaccurate books for the Fairfax County Public Library.

In 2004 Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library had 175,000 books in its collection (from FCPL Materials Inventory).  The Tysons-Pimmit collection has been reduced since that year by harsh discard guidelines including the following:

So-called "low demand" books are being purged with only 24 months of non-circulation (industry standard is 60 months).  This particularly affects books on art, music, history, religion, philosophy and biography;

The collection was further reduced in preparation for "floating" the collection through the entire system;

Next, the collection was reduced during the attempt to transition from print to digital following the 2012 Library Strategic Plan, including the massive dumping of books during the disastrous Beta Plan;

Further loss has occurred due to the current mechanism of redistributing books that enables Technical Operations to discard books in good condition that are transferred away from branches with too many copies or low demand copies; 

Finally, on orders from Collection Services all books that are not in pristine condition must be discarded, even when wear is extremely minimal.  The common and highly cost-effective procedure of mending slightly worn books is not encouraged.

As a result of all of this, Tysons-Pimmit has suffered a net loss of over 70,000 books.   That's 70,000 from one Branch alone. 

In 2004 Woodrow Wilson Library had a collection size of 87,000 holdings and after renovation currently holds only 46,851 books (July 2015 Collection Analysis).  Another 40,000 books lost.

Under the current renovation plans for Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library, the FCPL Collection Manager has reduced the amount of shelving in floor plans so only enough linear feet of shelving for a maximum of 110,000 books will be accommodated after the renovation.  The amount of linear feet for shelving space for books currently in the Tysons-Pimmit library will be halved.  

Losses on this scale are occurring throughout the County.  Most at risk at the moment are those Branches undergoing or soon to undergo renovation, including Tysons-Pimmit, Reston, Pohick, John Marshall and Kingstowne. 


WHEREAS Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations wishes to see branch collections restored and enhanced after a decade of loss,

WHEREAS the resulting crowding of books from reduced shelving would necessitate further weeding and more discards,

WHEREAS the current collection levels throughout the county locks branch collections into the smallest collection in their history,

WHEREAS reduction in linear feet of shelf space will not allow a collection room to grow,

WHEREAS a new library director may want to eliminate the floating collection that causes books to be irregularly distributed throughout the branches,

WHEREAS Fairfax County intends for the population of Fairfax County to grow substantially by 2030,

WHEREAS the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations desires a collection size beyond the bare minimum required by Virginia statute to provide for the growing Fairfax County population,


BE IT RESOLVED:  The Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations hereby requests that all future renovations and rebuild of county libraries have adequate linear feet of usable shelving space to house at least their historic highest collection levels.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Reston Regional Library: Community Dialogue Meeting

For Immediate Release                                                            Contact: Catherine Hanes
October 19, 2015                                                               703-478-0283

Reston Town Center North Community Dialogue Meeting

On Wednesday, November 4, 2015, Supervisor Hudgins will host a Community Dialogue meeting to discuss the future development plans of the Reston Regional Library and the Embry Rucker Homeless Shelter as part of the redevelopment of Reston Town Center North (RTCN). 

At the meeting, Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) will be soliciting comments from community stakeholders related to the Reston Regional Library and Embry Rucker Shelter. All residents interested in the future of these facilities and their role in our community are invited to come share in this process.  A brief presentation will be provided about the Town Center North-Mixed Use Area, including the most recent Request for Proposal (RFP) process and potential development scenarios that may be considered for RTCN.

The meeting will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at South Lakes High School– Lecture Hall, 11400 South Lakes Drive, Reston.   To RSPV, please send a message to, or call 703-478-0283.

Additional information regarding the RTCN project, including maps, timeline, and benefits, is available on the County’s website at

Saturday, October 24, 2015

NY Times: Reinventing the Library

"If we change the role of libraries and librarians without preserving the centrality of the book, we risk losing something irretrievable."  From op-ed piece by Alberto Manguel, NY Times.

Plato, in the “Timaeus,” says that when one of the wisest men of Greece, the statesman Solon, visited Egypt, he was told by an old priest that the Greeks were like mere children because they possessed no truly ancient traditions or notions “gray with time.” In Egypt, the priest continued proudly, “there is nothing great or beautiful or remarkable that is done here, or in your country, or in any other land that has not been long since put into writing and preserved in our temples.”

Such colossal ambition coalesced under the Ptolemaic dynasty. In the third century B.C., more than half a century after Plato wrote his dialogues, the kings ordered that every book in the known world be collected and placed in the great library they had founded in Alexandria. Hardly anything is known of it except its fame: neither its site (it was perhaps a section of the House of the Muses) nor how it was used, nor even how it came to its end. Yet, as one of history’s most distinguished ghosts, the Library of Alexandria became the archetype of all libraries.

Libraries come in countless shapes and sizes. They can be like the Library of Congress or as modest as that of the children’s concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the older girls were in charge of eight volumes that had to be hidden every night so that the Nazi guards wouldn’t confiscate them. They can be built from books found in the garbage, like the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., set up in 1980 by the 24-year-old Aaron Lansky from volumes discarded by the younger generations who no longer spoke the tongue of their elders, or they can be catalogued in the mind of their exiled readers, in the hope of resurrection, like the libraries plundered by the Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories of Palestine. It is in the nature of libraries to adapt to changing circumstances and threats, and all libraries exist in constant danger of being destroyed by war, vermin, fire, water or the idiocies of bureaucracy.

But today, the principal danger facing libraries comes not from threats like these but from ill-considered changes that may cause libraries to lose their defining triple role: as preservers of the memory of our society, as providers of the accounts of our experience and the tools to navigate them — and as symbols of our identity.

The rest of the article can be read here:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Outreach Meeting for Redevelopment of Reston Library, November 4, 7:30 pm

A meeting on the Reston Town Center North redevelopment of the Library and Shelter parcel will be held for community outreach and participation, Wednesday, November 4, 7:30 at South Lakes High School, 11400 South Lakes Drive in Reston.  

Meeting announced by Andrew Miller of Fairfax County DPWES at the Library Board of Trustees meeting October 14, 2015.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Before Libraries Go Digital

The following letter-to-the-editor was printed this week in the Reston Connection. 

To the Editor:

It has been suggested that we don't need libraries or books anymore as everything is available digitally and on the Internet. All books are not available digitally and won't be for many years due to copyright laws. Libraries have to pay much more for digital books than they have to pay for print books. Cost-per-checkout can be 10 times higher for digital books. Much of the information on the Internet is inaccurate.

Before we throw away all our books and switch over to digital books in our libraries and schools we should wait to see the results of the ongoing European study to evaluate the effects of digitization on reading.

Fifteen European countries currently are engaged in a three-year emergency study to evaluate the evolution of reading in the age of digitization. COST, the European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research, has embarked on this study because it appears from current research that children do not learn as well when reading from digital screens vs. print books. Anne Mangen of Stavanger University in Norway is coordinating the study.

At a time when the future of the Reston Regional Library is in question, we need to be aware of this ongoing study and the potential effects of prematurely transitioning to digital books in our libraries and in our schools and the damage that could be caused to our children by that transition.

Kathy Kaplan
Fairfax Library Advocates

This is the link to the article:

This link has further information about the European COST study.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library Renovation Meeting

Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library on Route 7 will be closed for renovations this winter.  Supervisor Foust will answer questions at a meeting at the library Monday night to discuss planning and renovations of the library. 

  • Monday, September 28, 2015
  • 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
  • Tysons Pimmit Regional Library, Meeting Room A
    7584 Leesburg Pike Falls Church, VA 22043- 2099

The library was constructed in 1983. Planned renovations include increasing public space meeting rooms and adding public computers.

County architect Tiya Raju will be the main speaker.  She will introduce the renovation design to the local community.

A temporary site during renovation with a very limited book collection is being considered, but a lease has not been signed.  Woodrow Wilson's temporary facility housed 10,000 volumes.  Currently Tysons-Pimmit's collection is about 106,000 volumes.  If there is a temporary site opened, it will operate on reduced hours, not on regional library hours. 

The library is expected to close February 2016.   Renovation is expected to take eighteen months.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

County Proposes to Bulldoze Reston Library

The following letter-to-the-editor was printed in the Reston Connection: 

County Proposes to Bulldoze Reston Library and Homeless Shelter

We look to our elected and appointed officials to support our communities and to work to improve the lives of all our citizens, including our children, our seniors, young graduates, recent arrivals to our country and even the most disadvantaged among us.  Two institutions in Reston epitomize this sense of caring and hope for the future - the Reston Regional Library and the Embry Rucker Homeless Shelter.  How can it be then, that our elected and appointed officials are working to physically tear down both of these institutions with no announced plans to replace them, leaving the residents of this region poorer both in education and in spirit?  

The County recently announced its intention to redevelop an extensive area in North Reston.  This area is divided into eight sections.  Six of the sections have little or nothing of significance in them.  Two contain the Library and the Shelter.  Guess which two the County wants to bulldoze?   

The County proposes to turn this land over to a "Public/Private Partnership" to redevelop into commercial, retail and residential high rises, and "public facilities". They have said repeatedly the "public facilities"  MAY include a new library and shelter in the mix if the developer chooses to do so.  Or they may not.  And the County does not guarantee any replacement will be of the same size or offer the same services, much less anything better.    

The County is approaching this backwards.  Their first priority should be to serve their constituents.  In 2012 the citizens of Fairfax County approved a $10 million bond specifically to either build a new regional library in Reston or to significantly expand and improve the current facility in keeping with our population growth.   Three years later they have done nothing.  
Given the County's actions with respect to our libraries in recent years - the massive destruction of books, particularly children's books, the cutback on hours of operation and repeated attempts to downgrade the professional qualifications of our librarians - a certain skepticism is prudent.  But the County has an opportunity to restore confidence in its commitment to the public:  

First, in the case of the library, by publicly stating what their plans  are - three years after the bond passed - on remodeling or replacing existing facilities.

Second, by confirming the will of the electorate that any new library structure will be of greater size than the current facility with a full book collection and at least the same number of dedicated parking spaces as well as improvements that will make it a viable library in a community whose population and employment the County projects will double in a quarter century. 

And third, by doing what should have been done years ago and establishing a Citizens Task Force to be involved in all phases of the planning process.  Oh, and any new structures should be built before the old ones are demolished.  This is what was done with the new and old North County Government Centers and it makes a lot of sense.  
There is no reason we have to destroy the best parts of us just for the sake of a few dollars of new tax revenue for the County.  After all, revenue for the County is supposed to be used to support the citizens of Fairfax - like by having a library people want and use and a homeless shelter to catch those who would otherwise fall through the cracks.     

Ambassador Dennis K. Hays (ret.)    
Chairman, Fairfax library Advocates

Reston Regional Library in Reston Connection Article

The following article appeared in the Reston Connection:

Reston Citizens Association has an 11-page, seven-step plan for Reston Town Center North, its library and Embry Rucker Community Shelter.

“We suggest that the county renovate the vacant Cameron Glen facility and move the Embry Rucker Community Shelter into this space. We recommend that the County build a new and larger library on the former Embry Rucker Community Shelter site using the approved $10 million bond as a starting point,” according to Reston Citizens Association.

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins promises a community dialogue meeting this Saturday, Sept. 19 regarding the future of Reston Town Center North and “vision for delivery of services,” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne.

Hank Schonzeit published RCA’s White Paper, “Reston Town Center North Redevelopment,” on Sept. 8 after RCA met with library officials and representatives from Cornerstones which manages the Embry Rucker community shelter.  

RCA developed its own list of goals, concerns and questions along with a proposal for the redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8, according to RCA.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

RCA White Paper on Future Redevelopment of Reston Regional Library

Executive Summary from Reston Citizens Association's White Paper on the redevelopment of Reston Town Center North which includes Reston Regional Library:

At a community meeting on July 29th,Fairfax County presented the idea of a proposed redevelopment of Reston Town Center North (RTC North), focusing on Blocks 7 and 8.The redevelopment was framed as a public-private partnership, and was expected to include new housing and commercial space. The Library and Embry Rucker Community Shelter “may” be rebuilt on the site. Residents were allowed brief comments and questions. A follow-up meeting was announced for September 19th.  
Attendees were told that the county would defer redevelopment of the remainder of the County-owned area (Blocks 1, 3, and 5) until an unspecified future date because “it was too much to work on at the same time.” Many attendees were disappointed to hear of this delay in planning the much-anticipated County-funded Recreation Center and Performing Arts Center. People who live and work in Reston are passionate about their community. They are especially passionate about our library and Reston’s commitment to social action. 
Many of the attendees expressed concerns about the future of the library and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, and the possibility that services would be compromised if these facilities were moved to temporary locations or their redevelopment was delayed until the development of further blocks. Other concerns included the lack of any community oversight and uncertainty regarding the developers’ adherence to Reston’s Master Plan guidelines. Reston Citizens Association (RCA) reviewed the presentation and met with representatives of the Fairfax County Public Library and Cornerstones (the organization managing the Embry Rucker Community Shelter) as well as some members of the community to understand their perspectives on the proposed redevelopment and what outcomes they would each respectively like to see at the end of it.  
Following that and our own analysis, we have developed an initial list of goals, concerns and questions along with a proposed approach to the redevelopment of Blocks 7 and 8. We recognize the perceived challenges in placing a homeless shelter in the midst of market priced housing. We are proposing an approach that may serve to address this challenge as well as many of the community’s concerns. We suggest that the county renovate the vacant Cameron Glen facility and move the Embry Rucker Community Shelter into this space. We recommend that the County build a new and larger library on the former Embry Rucker Community Shelter site using the approved $10 million bond as a starting point. This approach not only addresses the stated concerns, but provides other advantages as well, as outlined in the discussion below. 
The entire RCA White Paper may be read here:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Meeting Concerning the Future of Reston Regional Library

The following message was included in Supervisor Cathy Hudgins' September Newsletter.  What is not mentioned in this article is that the Reston Regional Library is one of the "key services" being considered for redevelopment and/or relocation.   As this is the only county meeting scheduled to allow public input for the redevelopment of Town Center North, please attend.  Numerous questions arise about Reston Regional:  How many square feet will be included in the new library, how many print and ebooks will be accommodated, and will there be adequate dedicated parking for library patrons.

Reston Town Center North Redevelopment and Human Services Delivery:  Join the Dialogue

On Saturday, September 19, 2015, Supervisor Hudgins will host a Community Dialogue meeting to discuss evolving needs in Reston and the North County area, including regional delivery of human services and the redevelopment of Reston Town Center North (RTNC).

Fairfax County Deputy County Executive Patricia Harrison and staff will highlight the proposed health, housing and human services community input process.  Fairfax County Deputy Executive Rob Stalzer and Project Coordinator, Public-Public Private Partnership Branch, Andrew Miller, will discuss the County and Inova's efforts to fulfill the Comprehension Plan vision for the Town Center North-Mixed Use area, including the most recent Request for Proposal (RFP) process and potential development scenarios that may be considered for RTCN.  The goal is to have the community identify key services, and vision for delivery of services in the region and within the RTCN footprint.

The meeting will be held from 9 am to 1 pm at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne - Rose Gallery Room, 1609-A Washington Plaza, Reston.  To RSVP, please send us a message to

Monday, August 31, 2015

Library Budget: FFxCo Candidate Forums, September and October

We recently learned from Supervisor Jeff McKay that a school supporter asked him to "zero out" the parks and library in order to fully fund the schools.  Supervisor McKay told the supporter that the combined budgets of both parks and library are only 2%.  Eliminating parks and library would not accomplish full funding of the schools.  Are other school supporters out campaigning to eliminate the library?   All of the county supervisors are campaigning now for the November election and the Library Advocates need to have a presence at the League of Women Voters' candidate forums to speak up for the library.  

It would be useful to know what the supervisors are planning for the future of the Fairfax County Public Library.  Do they want continued cuts as we have seen the past decade? 
County documents obfuscate the planned cut to the library budget for FY2017, but previously a budget cut of 20% was mentioned.  There is no way to absorb a budget cut of that magnitude without significant damage to the library including elimination of core programs, a reduction-in-force, reducing the hours of library operation, or possibly branch closures.

We hope you will attend, ask questions, and report back with comments made by the candidates so those comments can be shared on the Fairfax Library Advocates' blog.

Below are the dates of the League of Women Voters (LWV) candidate forums for September and October, the Library Board meeting for September, the Board of Supervisors' budget committee Carryover and Lines of Business (LOB) review presentation by County Executive Ed Long, and the regular Tuesday BOS meeting with the public hearing on the Carryover proposal.

Also at the bottom of this email is a link to the DMB carryover recommendation and a link with addresses for the League of Women Voters' candidate forums.

Kathy Kaplan
Fairfax Library Advocates

Upcoming dates: 

September 2:  National Assoc of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) Candidates Forum, Mason District Gov't Center, 10 am.  

September 9:   Library Board of Trustees monthly meeting.  George Mason Regional Library, 7 pm.

September 9    LWV Springfield District, West Springfield Govt Center, 7 pm

September 11:  FfxCo Board of Supervisors (BOS) budget committee meeting on Carryover and LOB with Ed Long,  Govt Center, 1 pm.  Rooms 9 and 10.

September 16:  LWV Mt. Vernon District, Sherwood Regional Library, 7 pm

September 21:  LWV VA Senate and House of Delegates for Sully District, Sully district gov't' center, 7 pm

September 22:  BOS public hearing on budget carryover, regular Tuesday BOS meeting at Govt Center.

October 5:  LWV, Lee District, John Marshall Library, Alexandria, 7 pm.

October 7:  LWV, Providence District,  Providence Community Center, 7 pm. 

October 8:  LWV, Braddock District, Kings Park Library Community Room, 7 pm.

October 13:  LWV, FfxCo Chairman of Board of Supervisors and at-large School Board members, James Madison HS, 7 pm

October 14:  LWV, Dranesville District, McLean Community Center, 7 pm.

October 21,  LWV, Mason District, Woodrow Wilson Library Community Room, 7 pm

October 24, LWV, Hunter Mill District, Reston Community Center, 2 pm (afternoon).

October 28:  LWV, Sully District candidates for County Board of Supervisors and School Board.  Sully District Gov't Center, 7 pm.

Carryover recommendations by Ed Long:

LWV Fall 2015 meet and greet calendar, Sept and Oct: