Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Supervisor John Cook Visits Spring Friends' Forum, Burke Centre Library

Supervisor John Cook attended the Spring Friends' Forum yesterday at Burke Center Library.  His discussion centered around the audit ordered by Sharon Bulova in the Board Matter of December 2.  Accounting practices of the 21 Friends of the Library groups in Fairfax County were the focus of the audit.   The Board Matter was approved by all supervisors, except Supervisor Linda Smyth and Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

Supervisor Cook wished the request had not come out so negatively and apologized that the request for the audit reflected any wrongdoing on the part of the Friends.  Supervisor Cook had not heard that the Federation had not asked that the Friends accounting practices be audited.  He also had not heard that the Board Auditor had told the Library Advocates that filling out the audit documents was voluntary, a statement also made by the Deputy County Executive at a meeting with the Fairfax Library Advocates January 21.  A summary of that meeting can be found here: http://ffxlibraryadvocates.blogspot.com/2015/01/county-audit-forms-for-fol-voluntary.html

When a member of one Friends' group asked if the Board of Supervisors would rescind the request for the audit, Supervisor Cook was adamant that the audit would go ahead.  He stated that Friends use space in the library for their operations.  He also stated that the county was giving property to the Friends, i.e., the library discards, and that money from the sale of those old library books had to be accounted for.  A member of one Friends' group stated that their group received no library discards and that many of the Friends' groups received no library discards as they did not use them for their library sales.  It was not clear why they were being audited for sales of ex-library books when they did not receive them from the library. 

Discussion moved to the topic of the Ongoing Book sales.  One Friend asked where the results of the audit of the System Gift Fund were.  The Federation did request an audit of the System Gift Fund.  Currently 35% of sales from the Ongoing Book sales go to the county directly through the System Gift Fund.  To date, we have not received any information about how those funds are spent.  Supervisor Cook said he would get the question answered.

When asked if other nonprofits associated with the county were going to be audited, Cook said discussions are in play for other groups.   He also stated that they were considering auditing the Park Foundation.

The president of one Friends group cited concerns over privacy of the names of their donors which they protected.  Cook seemed surprised that requests for lists of donors had been included in the audit document and said there was no need to list donors.
One Friend suggested that the audit was a "slap in the face" as they already do a yearly audit.

The Library Director then gave a short presentation on the budget cut.  He said the elimination of the 21 circulation aide positions had been in the works for the past three years.  He also stated that the part of the budget cut beyond the elimination of staff positions, $300,000, was from "vacancy management" which entails holding vacancies open longer to create savings.  That will cause more problems due to staffing shortages with the current number of 70 vacancies.

Kara Oakleaf spoke for the Fall for the Book Festival and encouraged Friends to sponsor events.

Brian Engler of the Library Foundation also spoke.  He requested people to volunteer for the Library Foundation.  He gave information on Directors and Officers liability insurance available through the ANI link.  

 Supervisor John Cook discussing Board of Supervisors-ordered audit of Friends' accounting practices

Brian Engler, President, Fairfax Library Foundation

     Kara Oakleaft from Fall for the Book and Peter Bastone of Kingstown Friends

Fran Millhouser, President Virginia Room Friends and Jennifer McCullough, President of FCPLEA

Pamela Chin of Reston Friends and Rudy Rodela, FCPL District Coordinator

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