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

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