Sunday, September 25, 2016

Library Board Finance Committee to Discuss FY2018 Library Budget October 7, 2016, 10 a.m. at Fairfax Library

Antonio Olivo has written an article about Fairfax County Public Library.  It appeared in the print edition of the Washington Post newspaper yesterday.  Included is this quote from the new library director:

Though Hudson did not rule out program cuts in the future, she said she intends to be strategic about where they are made.

“I prefer as much as possible to try and spread out budgetary cuts so we’re having impact but it’s not so painful for any one particular group,” Hudson said. “Every budget dollar that we have goes toward some value for someone.”

The Finance Committee of the Library Board will meet October 7 at 10 a.m. at the Fairfax Library to discuss the FY2018 library budget.  We should get an idea at that time of what cuts the new library director and the Department of Management and Budget have in mind.  The meeting is open to the public, but there will be no public comments allowed.

Here is a link to the entire article by Olivo:

Saturday, September 17, 2016

FCPLEA President's Statement to Library Board of Trustees, September 14, 2016

Even after as many years as most of us have been out of school, September still feels like a time to jump into new things, to buckle down on things we’ve put off during a hot and busy summer, and to be even more ambitious about learning. This year is no exception.

At last week’s Staff Day, speakers from ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries and the Harwood Institute inspired us with ideas on how to imagine, collaborate, experiment, and deliver the evolving services our communities want. Several sessions allowed us to play with new technologies and raised another set of possibilities. Some of us valued the opportunity to check out benefits options and get personal health insights. All of us were elated to spend time with former colleagues and make new friends.

We must extend this learning spirit so all of us can stretch our abilities together and dare things we’ve never tried in an environment of shared discovery and trust.

An impressive number of residents, staff, and Friends attended the Community Engagement Initiative presentation last Wednesday and staff are still taking in the formal report to sift out its gold. Finding ways to understand those insights, identify the opportunities, and assign actionable priorities will be our collective focus for the next several months.

We also look forward to learning how FCPL will translate this effort into a responsive and creative strategic plan that represents the best we can deliver to all of our library users, potential users, and stakeholders.

Finally, we must – and we will -- find the courage to address the disconnects exposed by this study together.

We need candid, transparent, and wide-ranging exchanges that engage staff at all levels in understanding and contributing to our future success. The path to a unified system and shared vision will require us to confront some thorny truths, require a commitment to mutual respect, and necessitate new ways of communicating. Staff look forward to opportunities to be part of a process that will move us toward clarity and build a culture that embraces innovation, excellence, and solidarity.

We thank you for the time and effort you will put into advising and approving the plans developed, and hope you too are itching to put your “pencil to paper” as we start a new season and write the bright future of FCPL.

Deb Smith-Cohen
Fairfax County Public Library Employee Association President
Statement to Library Board of Trustees
September 14, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Statement by Dennis Hays to Library Board, September 14, 2016

The following notes formed the basis of Dennis Hays' comments to the Library Board of Trustees held on September 14th.  Mr. Hays is the Chairman of the Fairfax Library Advocates.

Thank you for this opportunity to address you.  Like everyone else in this room, I have been trying to digest all the material presented in the Community Engagement Report (the report) released a week ago this evening.  In general, I find the report's analysis to be excellent, but several of its recommendations are unwarranted and counterproductive.   As I am permitted only a very limited amount of time to speak (3 minutes), I will focus on three specific recommendations.  

(1) Strategic Plan:  The report notes in section 7.2.3 that "The Library Board needs to focus on strategy and policy, not operations."  I fully agree.  Further, the Virginia Code and the Charter of the Trustees as granted by the Board of Supervisors also charge the Trustees with responsibility for "library function, policy and direction."  This is good and standard management practice - the Board develops and sets the strategic vision and policies, the staff carries out these policies.  And yet, the report recommends (section 5.3.3) that a new strategic plan be developed by the Library Director.  This is not only inappropriate and inefficient, it is not even possible given the Trustees charter.  The Board cannot delegate its responsibility to set the strategic vision.  The Board must develop the new Strategic Plan.  

(2) Former librarians serving as Trustees:  The report strongly condemns the service of former librarians on the Board of Trustees, saying this is a conflict of interest (section 7.2.3).  This is absurd.  The former librarians bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Board that would be unattainable from any other source.  They are no longer active employees and thus have no conflict of interest.  We are very fortunate they are willing to continue to serve our community.  I also note the School Board has former teachers, the Park Authority former park employees and every other board in the nation draws on the very individuals who best know their areas of interest.  

(3) Advocates for a strong healthy library system: The report also condemns "advocates" as "tarnishing" the behavior of Friends groups (section 7.3.2).  This despite the fact that the report repeatedly calls for the involvement of all "stakeholders" in all aspects of the library.  The report defines Friends activities as "supporting, assisting and promoting library activities."  In other words, advocating.    

I am struck by how often the recommendations are at odds with the analysis - when there is any specific analysis to begin with.  For example, there is no, repeat no, discussion or analysis supporting any of the three recommendations noted above anywhere in the report.  It is as if someone added these sections after the rest of the report had been written.  

I encourage the Trustees to treat this report as a starting point for further discussion and analysis but to also remember that some specific recommendations have no basis in the analysis, good management practice or even common sense.  They should be rejected immediately so that more serious issues can be considered.  

Dennis Hays
Fairfax Library Advocates

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Library Outreach Results Will Be Presented at Meeting September 7, 2012

What do Fairfax County residents want to see at their local library? The answer to that question will be revealed during a public meeting next week.

Consultants hired by the Library Board of Trustees are slated to reveal the findings of a recent public engagement project during a meeting at the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway) on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.

See complete article here: