Monday, April 27, 2015

NY Times: Denying NY Libraries the Fuel They Need

Hsia Jian Li of Queens browsed at the Bayside library branch in 2011.  
Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

Denying NY Libraries the Fuel They Need, New York Times, April 24, 2015

...the city’s libraries have more users than major professional sports, performing arts, museums, gardens and zoos — combined.

No one who has set foot in the libraries — crowded at all hours with adults learning languages, using computers, borrowing books, hunting for jobs, and schoolchildren researching projects or discovering stories — can mistake them for anything other than power plants of intellect and opportunity. They are distributed without regard to wealth.

Over the last decade, they have not gotten anywhere near the kind of capital funding enjoyed by sports teams.

Please read the rest of the article:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Washington Post: Do We Still Need Libraries?

Carlos Lozada, Washington Post, April 24, 2015

Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google 

By John Palfrey
Basic. 280 pp. $26.99

Libraries are repositories of books, music and documents, but above all of nostalgia: the musty stacks, the unexpected finds, the safety and pleasure of a place that welcomes and shelters unconditionally.

John Palfrey shares these memories, but he is also wary of them. After all, fond recollections of pleasant reading rooms can cloud our judgment of what libraries offer us — and need from us — today. In an era when search engines, online retailers and social media are overtaking some of libraries’ essential tasks, “nostalgia can actually be dangerous,” Palfrey warns. “Thinking of libraries as they were ages ago and wanting them to remain the same is the last thing we should want for them.”

Palfrey, the former head of the Harvard Law Library and the founding chairman of the Digital Public Library of America, wants a library revolution, one that remakes the institution’s technology, goals and training. Libraries are in peril, he writes, facing budget cuts and a growing perception that technology has rendered them less necessary. All that’s at stake, Palfrey argues, is America’s experiment in self-government. “If we do not have libraries, if we lose the notion of free access to most information, the world of the haves and the have-nots will grow further and further apart. Our economy will suffer, and our democracy will be put at unnecessary risk.”

The rest of the article is here:

Washington Post: New Hampshire Loves its Libraries

The Peterborough Town Library, founded in 1833, was the world's first free, tax-supported public library. (Manchester Union Leader) 
Niraj Chokshi , Washington Post, April 24, 2015.
 Maybe there’s a reason J.D. Salinger lived out his final years there and Robert Frost chose it as the subject of his first Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection. If a love of the written word can be quantified, nowhere is it stronger than in independent-minded New Hampshire.

There is no other state that claims more librarians or library visits per capita, according to the latest Public Libraries Survey, conducted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Perhaps the reason is rooted in history: New Hampshire claims to be home not only to the world’s first free, tax-supported public library (the Peterborough Town Library, founded in 1833) but also the nation’s oldest state library (founded in 1717). Or maybe its love of reading is rooted in law: “There is a statute that says that we cherish learning and that public libraries are a part of that,” says State Librarian Michael York. 

Whatever the cause, that affinity for the written word is reflected in the state’s youth, too: New Hampshire ranks second in its share of fourth-graders reading at or above proficiency and fourth among eighth-graders, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  

The rest of the article is here:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

FEMA: Libraries Are Essential Community Organizations

In 2011 FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, declared libraries to be "essential community organizations."

Our essential community organization, Fairfax County Public Library, faces a profound budget cut for the coming year.  Funding for 14 FTE (full time equivalent) or 27 to 28 part time circulation aide positions will be removed from the budget.

What do circulation aides do besides to allowing branches to stay open during their posted hours?  They are the front line interface between the library and the public.  They perform many necessary
services in the library branches including training and supervising volunteers, assisting patrons with technology, processing holds/deliveries/transfers, mending books, processing periodicals, overseeing handouts, dealing with lost/damaged items, assisting patrons and processing patron data, helping investigate and clearing up items on patron accounts, giving directions, helping with surveys, assisting with programs, organizing monthly exhibits of the patron’s display cases, advising patrons on specific selections of books, providing translation assistance for patrons who speak languages other than English, searching for items on various lists including “missing," "claims returned" and holds.  They also will be on the front line to assist in a major emergency.  

Currently Fairfax County receives $20 million a year from the federal and state government for Emergency Preparedness. 

Having staff in place for emergencies should be a priority for the county.

In 2015, funding was approved to fill vacancies, but 63 remain unfilled.  The 14 FTE positions are among those not filled.

We are asking that the Board of Supervisors use funds from Emergency Preparedness grant to restore the circulation aide positions in the budget for the next fiscal year.

For more information about FEMA and libraries, please see the links below:

FEMA Policy: 

Kathy Kaplan
Dennis Hays, Chairman, Fairfax Library Advocates

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Statement by Chairman Dennis Hays to Board of Supervisors

The following is a transcript of the statement given to the Board of Supervisors April 9, 2015, by the Chairman of the Fairfax Library Advocates Dennis Hays. 

Madam Chairman and members of the board:

I appreciate this opportunity to speak before you.  I am the current chairman of the Fairfax Library Advocates.  I do want to say first off that I very much respect and admire the stamina and the force of will all of you have demonstrated.  I have had a chance over the past two days to listen to 30 or 40 of the different approaches and appeals for different programs, and like Kristin before me I am overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of the services this county provides and I am proud to be a member of this community and all the work you can do.  So thank you for that.  

I will say I am here speaking for the libraries though, and I will note that each of the speakers before me has dealt with a specific issue that was of great concern to them and to others.  I am here to speak about an issue I think concerns all of us.  The libraries, as you know, are one of the institutions in this county that deals with literally every person in the county.  It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, young or old, new arrival to this country or a long time citizen, the library is there to serve you.   I know I am one of the very last speakers, so I am going to step through a couple of issues quickly, specifically an absolute, a comparative, a managerial, and perhaps a philosophic to end.

On the absolute, I am going to jump forward and say there has been a lot of review and discussion over recent years as to the role of libraries in communities.  States as varied as Minnesota, Florida, Colorado, Great Britain, Korea and other nations have done extensive study in this and all of them have come to one conclusion:  The library is an economic engine.  The library returns on investment multiples of what is invested into them anywhere from $3.5 to $1 to $10 to $1 for what is put into different libraries.  So when I hear our colleagues from the Chamber and other areas, I look and see this is an opportunity for Fairfax to continue to be a leader both in this community and in this nation.

The second part I mentioned is comparative and here I will express a little concern.   I am sure that all of you are aware that Fairfax County on a per capita basis is at the very bottom of our region in terms of our contributions to the library.  We have something along the lines of $24 per person.   Loudon, I think, is at $38, Arlington and Alexandria are in the $40s and the district is up to $60 per person.  Again, this is a contribution to the future and not just for the children and the other people who we educate, but also as a community to attract business and to be an important part of our community.  

On that issue is a random note that in Minnesota a study was done on housing values and it was determined that the proximity to the library directly increases the values of housing.  

On managerial, and here I think is a specific issue I am concerned about.  A year ago, all of you met and approved a budget.  Part of that budget was of course, was for the library.  And I have to assume that when you did that, you assumed the budget you put forward would cause certain actions to take place and that there would be a product at the end of that time.  Specifically, at the moment now we are faced with a situation where we have over 60 vacancies in the library system. This places an unfair burden on the remaining employees who are forced to work massive amounts of overtime, to forgo vacation and other leave, and it also affects the services that we are able to give to our citizens.   At the moment, I think you have before you a proposal before you to take out 14 full time equivalent positions.   I keep seeing that these are vacant positions.  I want to emphasize that they are not vacant positions, they are positions which have not been filled and there is a very big difference between those two. 

So I hope that in going back to last year and going forward that you encourage Library Administration to actually fill the positions so that we can, in fact, deliver what we have promised to our citizens.  

Lastly, and this isn’t quite a budget issue, but it is one central to everything we are doing in in the philosophic area, that in recent days there has been a change in policy where there is, in effect, a censorship on the flows of information that the members of the library are able to use to communicate with each other.  This is something that is very much not in keeping with this county and the things we believe in, and I hope someone would take a look at it and see what we can do along those lines.

Lastly, I will say that as an Advocate my expectation is that I will work collaboratively and closely with all people who are interested in the library.  In the past we have found ourselves not always on the same page.  This is not something we wish to have.   We wish to work closely with you.  We think this is important, important for our future and our society.  I do want to thank all of you.  I have had a chance to speak to a couple of you individually and I know you care about libraries as much as I do and the others.  I look forward to working with you in the future.  Thank you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fairfax Library Advocates Chairman Dennis Hays Speaks for Libraries at Budget Hearing

14 Hours, Three Days, 200 Speakers


Schools, libraries, economic development authority and others seek more funding while tax-hawks call for reductions.

Board of Supervisor Chairman Sharon Bulova watches as School Board Chairman Tamara Kaufax makes her plea for full funding of the schools at the April 7 budget hearing.
 Board of Supervisor Chairman Sharon Bulova watches as School Board Chairman Tamara Kaufax makes her plea for full funding of the schools at the April 7 budget hearing. Photo Contributed
Excerpts from April 14, 2015 Connection article:  

The Board of Supervisors listened to more than 14 and a half hours of testimony from approximately 200 speakers Tuesday through Thursday, April 7-9.

"I very much respect and admire the stamina and the force of will all of you have demonstrated the last three days," said Dennis Hays, chairman of the Fairfax Library Advocates, and the second to last of 214 scheduled speakers.

"I am overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of the services this County provides and I am proud to be a member of this community," said Hays.

Brian Engler, of the Fairfax Library Foundation, and Charles Fegan, of the Fairfax County Public Library Board of Trustees, addressed the cuts to the library system. Libraries are part of educating the county’s young people, and provide a myriad of other services to residents of all ages despite significant cuts in recent years, they said.

Hays was the last to speak on the libraries, and the second to last speaker of all.  Hays cited studies from Minnesota, Florida, Colorado, Great Britain and Korea. "All came to one conclusion," he said. "The library is an economic engine,” providing high rate of return on investment.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Today's Ad in the Washington Post: If You Love Libraries...


Invest in Fairfax: The Rally

Yesterday Invest in Fairfax held a rally at Fairfax County Government Center.  Over 100 union members, local parents and small business owners came together to urge the Fairfax Board to pass a budget which invests in our libraries, schools, infrastructure, mental health services, public safety and all that is needed to make our community excellent once more.   Jennifer McCullough of the Fairfax County Public Library Employee Association and Kathy Kaplan of the Fairfax Library Advocates spoke at the Board of Supervisors budget hearing and asked for restored funding for our libraries. 

David Broder, President of SEIU VA 512 speaking at Invest in Fairfax rally.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Reminder: Please Come to the Rally at Government Center, April 8, 4 pm.

  Invest In Fairfax Rally
April 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Fairfax County Government Center
Questions?  Contact

Fairfax Library Advocates have joined a coalition dedicated to advocating around budget issues. Invest in Fairfax is a broad coalition of businesses, non-profits, human service providers and advocates dedicated to the proposition that Fairfax County, Virginia is an excellent place to live.  Libraries are an essential part of Quality public services in Fairfax County.  
The members of the Invest In Fairfax Coalition believe that Excellence is at risk in our community. 
Join the Coalition at the Budget Hearing of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on April 8, 2015 at 5:00 pm.   This will take place in the Board auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center - 12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax, VA 22035 . A group of folks will be speaking to the Board of Supervisors in support of quality libraries and services in Fairfax County.  Please let us know if you want to register to speak.
Staging Area:  Come to Rooms 2 and 3 between 4:00 and 5:00 pm at the Government Center to receive stickers, signs, and instructions for the Rally.   There will be food and beverages served courtesy of SEIU Virginia 512.

Let's rally together to Save Our Libraries and protect
Excellence and Quality public services in Fairfax County.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Clarifying a Few Facts in Library Story

This letter was written in response to an article by Kali Schumitz in the Fairfax Times, March 26, 2015.

Dear Editor,

Kali Schumitz's article, Fairfax Library Cuts May Mean More Overtime for Employees (March 26, 2015), highlights the budget cuts facing local libraries. However, we are concerned that those cuts, which are devastating, are being understated.

County Executive Ed Long’s budget proposal includes a net loss of 45 staff positions across the county, not 93. The libraries represent less than 1% percent of the county budget, yet are being asked to take 31% of the county staff cuts (14 positions). Once these positions are eliminated, funds for overtime will be reduced by one-third. Not only will we not have the staff we need to keep library branches open, we will not be able to use overtime to fill the gap. 

Furthermore, paying overtime is a costly way to staff our local libraries.  One key statistic in the article needs to be corrected. The amount anticipated to be spent on overtime this fiscal year is $300,000, not $30,000, as stated in the article. Retaining our high quality, permanent staff makes much more sense than a Band-Aid approach of using overtime, which is both unsustainable and inefficient. 

We know that our community values our libraries. From literacy programs for children to technology assistance for older adults, from tax help for local families to providing space for community groups, libraries are vital to strong communities. 

Yet, this year’s budget would continue a decade-long trend of relentless cuts to our local library system. Library staffing has plummeted, services have been reduced or eliminated, and the library collection has shrunk as the budget for new and replacement items has been slashed.

Fairfax County ranks at the bottom among local jurisdictions in library funding. This is foolish given the fact that libraries add far more value to a community than they cost.  As one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, Fairfax County should be a leader in ensuring quality libraries instead of slowly starving them with inadequate support.

Kathy Kaplan
Fairfax Library Advocates

David Broder
President, SEIU Virginia 512

Dennis K. Hays  
Chairman, Fairfax Library Advocates

Jennifer McCullough,  President
Fairfax County Public Library Employee Association