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.