Saturday, February 28, 2015

Channel 10, Conversations with Rich Massabny

A group of Fairfax Library Advocates were interviewed by Rich Massabny on Fairfax Public Access TV, Channel 10.

Ambassador Dennis Hays, Chairman of the Fairfax Library Advocates, Jennifer McCullough, President of Fairfax County Public Library Employee Association, and David Broder, President of SEIU VA discussed current budget challenges facing the library, including projected loss of staff positions.
The link to the 18-minute video is here.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Reminder: Library Advocates Meeting Tomorrow

Fairfax Library Advocates will be meeting at George Mason Regional Library, 7001 Little River Turnpike, Annandale at 10 am, Saturday, February 28.

The stated revenue shortfall of $100M for FY16 and $79M for FY17 is the reason given for cutting the library budget and abolishing 21 (14 FTE) circulation aide positions.   They are part of the current number of vacancies that number about 70 that have necessitated the quadrupling of the use of overtime since last year.

We will be discussing the budget cut and other issues pertinent to the library tomorrow and we look forward to seeing everyone at the meeting.

Link to budget documents:


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Questions to Ask About Reston Regional Library

The following letter to the editor concerning the new Reston Regional Library by Fairfax Library Advocate Kathy Kaplan was printed in the Reston Connection newspaper.

To the Editor:

In January, 2015 the Library Board of Trustees was given a document from the Department of Public Works that indicates Reston Regional Library will be rebuilt at its current location. At the September, 2014 Library Board meeting Library Director Sam Clay stated that a task force had been appointed to oversee planning of the new library, and he had been appointed to that task force. We would encourage Supervisor Cathy Hudgins to inform the community about the composition of the task force and to let us know how many Restonians are on it. Does the task force include any members of the Reston Friends of the Library or any retired librarians? Is our currently serving Hunter Mill Library Board member, or any retired Library Board members on this task force? 

We would like to have information as to the size of the planned building. Will it be part of a mixed-use building? What other uses are expected? How many square feet will the library be? How many books will be shelved there? How many meeting rooms will be provided? What space will be allotted to the Friends of the Library for their book sales? Will there be space for a library store like those used by Montgomery County to sell donated and ex-library books? How many computers will be available? How large will the children's section be and how many volumes will it hold? How many dedicated parking spaces will be included in the plans? Will there be a temporary facility provided during construction?

What will be the projected cost of the new library? Will the $10M bond be enough to cover a new building? If not, are there plans to add more money to a bond referendum within the time frame necessary to use the $10M bond funds currently available?

Will the shelter be separate from the library with its own entrances? How many people will the shelter be built to accommodate? Will there be support services on site to provide assistance to the homeless population?

The 2013 Beta Plan included elimination of library Youth Services and a transition to digital-only libraries. In light of current research about the problems of children retaining information read from digital screens versus print books, will Reston Regional be built as a digital-only library with minimal use of print books? (Please see September 2013, Scientific American article, Why the Brain Prefers Paper).

Ebooks are not purchased by libraries. They are rented. In fact, they are not even books; they are rented pieces of software that expire after a prescribed number of checkouts. The cost-per-checkout (CPC) for ebooks is at least four to ten times the cost for print books. County Executive Ed Long just announced a large cut to the library in the FY2016 budget. Will the configuration of the new library reflect a continuing reliance on print materials since it is clear ebooks are beyond our budget?

Other jurisdictions allow public outreach when community libraries are renovated, redesigned and rebuilt. Will the Reston community be included in the decisions about the future of our library?

Kathy Kaplan
Fairfax Library Advocates

Monday, February 23, 2015

Supervisor Linda Smyth Meets with Library Advocates, Invest in Fairfax Coalition

Fairfax Library Advocates, Avi Dey and Kathy Kaplan, and members of Invest in Fairfax coalition attended a meeting today with Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth at her new office in the new Providence Community Center not far from Vienna Metro Station.

Invest in Fairfax promotes increasing public engagement in the Fairfax County budget process and is looking to develop a single countywide plan to maintain the quality of life in Fairfax County and to preserve the high quality of public services that we enjoy.   

SEIU president David Broder spoke about engaging in a new narrative to promote integrated and multi-year planning.  He stated that the county's excellence is at risk with the current budget.

It was pointed out to Supervisor Smyth that adding business librarians to our county system would be of great benefit to new businesses needing help with understanding county, state and federal regulations.  Business librarians can also help new business owners to navigate and do research with library databases to enhance their company's performance.

Kathy Kaplan discussed the challenges of the proposed budget and pointed out that 31% of the net positions to be cut from the county workforce come from the library.  The library is only 0.72% of the county budget.  That cut in personnel is disproportionate and will damage of the library's ability serve the public and maintain service hours.  Avi Dey and the Library Advocates will continue to pursue a discussion with the county supervisors about maintaining and expanding the functionality of the library to further economic development as the budget process continues into April.

  SEIU President David Broder;  David Edelman, VP of Advocacy for FCCPTA;
Beth Tudan, Executive Director, Fairfax League of Women Voters
meeting with Supervisor Smyth.

Invest in Fairfax Coalition:  Front: Jessica Bowser, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers; Debbie Kilpatrick, President FCCPTA; Walt Carlson.  Back:  David Edelman; David Broder; Kimberly Adams, FEA President; Beth Tudan. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Upcoming Town Hall Budget Meetings

The following list of meetings will allow opportunities for library advocates to speak to all the county supervisors about the library budget.  Please check the meetings in your district and make a note on your calendar.  Supervisors need to hear from their constituents that they support the library and that the current budget will remove 21 circulation aide positions necessary to serve the public.  Our library already receives much less financial support than surrounding library systems.  Funding needs to be fully restored to provide a vital and essential component of public and private education in Fairfax County.  

                               Everyone loves the library but libraries cannot live on love.  

Budget Town Hall Meetings

Hunter Mill District Budget Meeting, Frying Pan Park, 2709 West Ox Road, Herndon, Saturday, Feb. 28, 9 a.m.
Dranesville District Budget Meeting 1, Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, Wednesday, March 4, 7 p.m.
Dranesville District Budget Meeting 2, McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Avenue, McLean, Wednesday, March 11, 7:30 p.m.
Providence District Budget Meeting, Providence Community Center, 3001 Vaden Drive, Fairfax - Multi-Purpose Room 2, Wednesday, March 11, 7 p.m.
Braddock District Budget Meeting, Braddock Government Center, 9002 Burke Lake Road, Burke - Braddock Hall, Wednesday, March 11, 7:30 p.m.
Chairman Bulova's Community Dialogue on the Budget, South, South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria - Room 221, Saturday, March 14, 10 a.m.
Chairman Bulova's Community Dialogue on the Budget, Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax - Conference Room 9/10, Saturday, March 14, 2:30 p.m.
Braddock District Budget Meeting, Frost Middle School, 4101 Pickett Road, Fairfax, Tuesday, March 17, 7:30 p.m.
Springfield District Budget Meeting, West Springfield Government Center, 6140 Rolling Road, Springfield, Community Room, Wednesday, March 18, 7 p.m.
Mason District Budget Meeting, Mason District Government Center, 6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale - Main Community Room, Thursday, March 19, 7 p.m.
Lee District Budget Meeting, Franconia Government Center - 6121 Franconia Road, Alexandria, Wednesday, March 25, 7 p.m.
Sully District Budget Meeting, Rocky Run Middle School - Cafeteria - 4400 Stringfellow Road, Chantilly, Wednesday, March 25, 7 p.m.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Fairfax Library Advocates are a loose confederation of county-wide library patrons who represent many viewpoints.

Posts on this blog do not reflect the positions of either the county government or Fairfax County Public Library.

We post information that is publicly available elsewhere, including from the Fairfax County website.  

New Library Budget Eliminates 21 (14 FTE) Positions

County Executive Ed Long's FY2016 advertized library budget includes elimination of 21 circulation aide positions.  Funds to fill those positions have been available in the budget since October 2013, but Library Administration has decided not to fill those positions.  Beginning July 1, 2015 without intervention of the Board of Supervisors, the 21 positions will be eliminated.  Altogether there are approximately 70 current vacancies in the library.  At the present time 90% of branches cannot keep their doors open regular hours without overtime.  Ten months ago, only Oakton Library, needed overtime support.

Staff is expected to work overtime to make up the lack of coverage. 

In addition to staffing shortages, those 21 vacant positions are funded positions.  Their funding allotment provides the funds for overtime.  When the 21 positions are eliminated, 30% of funding for overtime will disappear and further exacerbate the staffing situation.   

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

County Begins Planning for New Reston Regional Library

Fairfax County has begun planning for a new library in Reston.  Please see the link to the article by Karen Goff in Reston Now.

The document from Department of Public Works presented to the Library Board of Trustees is here:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Projected Cut to Library Staff in Ed Long's Advertized Budget.

On February 17, 2015 County Executive Ed Long submitted his Advertized Budget to the Board of Supervisors.

See page 41 of the Executive Summary for the cuts to the library:

Of great concern is that this proposed FY16 budget eliminates 21 (14 FTE) circulation aide positions from the library branches.  

Circulation aides are a necessary component to running a public library. Their duties include supervising volunteers, assisting patrons with technology, processing holds/deliveries/transfers, mending books, processing periodicals, overseeing handouts, dealing with lost/damaged items, processing library card applications and entering patron data, sweeping, straightening, marking items that are used in house, helping investigate and clearing up items on patron accounts, ordering supplies, putting up signs for holidays and closings, clearing the book drop, giving directions, helping with surveys, handling book bag sales, assisting with programs, booking the display case, providing readers advisory, assisting patrons in other languages, searching for items on various lists including "missing," "claims returned" and holds.

Despite the opinion voiced in the Executive Summary, circulation aides are not superfluous nor have they become irrelevant with automated technology purchased by the Library Administration.  They are a necessary component of a functioning library.  

Currently about 70 positions, including the 21 (14FTE) circulation aide positions, have been held vacant by Department of Management and Budget resulting in a four-fold increase in overtime hours since last year to maintain hours of service at the branches.  

Reliance on overtime is not sustainable and talented staff are leaving to work in other libraries that are adequately supported by their counties and cities.  

In addition to abolishing the circulation aide positions, $300,000 was cut from the budget and it would be useful to know just what will be lost with that portion of the cut.  What other library functions might be compromised?  

Fairfax Library Advocates encourage library patrons to write their county supervisors to restore library funding to preserve staffing levels.   Ongoing staff reductions will ultimately lead to reducing service hours and branch closures.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Library Advocates to Meet Saturday, February 28, 2015

The next meeting of the Fairfax Library Advocates will be held at George Mason Regional Library, 10 am to 12 pm, on Saturday, February 28, 2015.  7001 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003.

County Executive Ed Long will be announcing his Advertized Budget February 17, 2015.  It is very likely that much of our meeting will be focused on the FY2016 library budget.

Please put the date on your calendar.

Agenda to follow.

Monday, February 9, 2015

RCA Board of Directors Seeks Additional Resources for Fairfax County Public Library

In the matter of
Resources for the Fairfax County Public Library
Reston Citizens Association 
February 9, 2015

                The Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) is a public institution that is vital to the high quality of life of the residents of the County and especially important to less fortunate individuals and families who rely on its resources for helping children learn, job hunting, and starting and managing small businesses. 
     WHEREAS Reston is a planned community whose vision is to provide a high quality of life for people of all incomes, ages, races and ethnicities;
     WHEREAS the Reston Regional Library, in partial fulfillment of that Reston vision, is among the County’s busiest in serving a wide variety of people;
     WHEREAS the Reston Regional Library, like the other 22 FCPL branches in the County, has suffered significant, continuous cuts in its budget, staff, and collection over the last decade;
     WHEREAS FCPL as a whole has experienced a 22% decline in its operating (General Fund) expenditures —while the county-wide budget has increased 15% in the same timeframe;
     WHEREAS FCPL as a whole has experienced a 14% decline in full time positions over the same timeframe - while county-wide full time positions have increased by three percent since FY2007;
     WHEREAS FCPL has reduced its collection inventory by 16% in the decade between, including a 12% reduction in children’s books;
     WHEREAS FCPL has reduced the number of library children’s programs;
     WHEREAS FCPL’s policy of considering the discard of library materials after only two years of being unused is exceptionally short by public library norms and has contributed substantially to the decline in the FCPL materials inventory;
     WHEREAS FCPL does not include in-house use of library materials prior to creating the "dead" list,
     WHEREAS the impact of all these reductions in budget, staffing, and materials collection has caused a decrease in the quality of the FCPL system and by extension a decrease in the quality of life for Reston Life;
     WHEREAS this has been exhibited by the American Library Association’s Public Library Division which ranks FCPL in the bottom third of Metropolitan Washington public library systems (14th of 19 public library systems);

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the RCA Board of Directors calls upon:
     The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (FCBOS) to index the FCPL budget for FY2016 and all following FY to other comparable libraries in the Washington DC Metro area;
     The FCBOS to fill the vacant full-time positions and ensure that FCPL library staffing levels are indexed to regional norms;
     The FCBOS to increase the number of full-time positions—and fill them—at least at the rate of growth of the County’s population over the next decade;
     The FCBOS to direct the FCPL to replace any discarded materials at least one-for-one plus increasing holdings at the percentage change in the county’s population year-to-year;
     The FCBOS to direct the FCPL to include in-house use of library materials such that those books are not included on the initial "dead" list to be discarded.
     The FCBOS to direct the FCPL to change its “unused” material discard policy to national and regional norms;
     Fairfax County citizens and homeowners associations to adopt similar resolutions to encourage the FCBOS to treat the libraries as essential to the quality of life for Fairfax County citizens.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Finding the Next Library Director

The committee to find a new library director has put up a survey on the library website so people can give their opinions about what they would like in a new library director. 

By spring 2016, Fairfax County Public Library will hire a new library director. The library director has four main areas of responsibility:
  • To the community;
  • To staff;
  • To County Supervisors;
  • To the Library Board of Trustees
The director works with various constituents, donors, governing boards, and more. The public library provides a rich array of services, programs, information, recreational and educational resources that are available in twenty-three branches and online. The director is the head of a 400+ employee organization; ensures that the monies allocated by the County Supervisors are wisely spent; that county policies and priorities are adhered to; and that the policies and wishes of the Library Board of Trustees are implemented.

Please help us find the best person to serve as our next library director by answering these questions.

Here is the link to the survey:

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

HB2066 Referred to House Appropriations Committee

The Full Committee on General Laws of the Virginia House of Delegates voted to refer HB 2066, Delegate Mark Keam's bill to declare libraries an essential part of the provision of public education, to the House Appropriations Committee.   Advocate Kathy Kaplan spoke before the Committee and urged them to pass the bill directly to the full House, but several delegates wanted an analysis of the budgetary impact of the bill first.  A few delegates were even more generally skeptical, one questioning the need for libraries at all, stating, "We have computers now." 

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to produce a report on the economic impact of the bill before further consideration.  

The Advocates again would like to thank Delegate Keam for his leadership and tenacious advocacy on this bill.  
We would urge constituents of Committee members Delegate LeMunyon, Delegate David Bulova, Delegate Kaye Kory, Delegate David Albo to encourage them to support the libraries in their districts (and throughout the State) and to vote to pass HB 2066 when it is returned to the General Laws committee.  
 Delegate Albo, Delegate Gilbert, Chair, and George Cain, Clerk.
House Committee on General Laws

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Inside Scoop with Cesar Del Aguila

Ambassador Dennis Hays of the Fairfax Library Advocates, FCPLEA President Jennifer McCullough, SEIU VA 512 President David Broder, Tysons-Pimmit Friends President John Ball, Tysons-Pimmit Friends Board member/ Fairfax Federation Library Committee Chair Kathy Kaplan were interviewed by Cesar Del Aguila on Inside Scoop Virginia regarding the challenges facing FCPL and their hopes for the future of Fairfax County Public Libraries.

Link to Inside Scoop:

David Broder, Cesar del Aguila, Jennifer McCullough, John Ball, Kathy Kaplan, and Ambassador Dennis Hays