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

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