October 30, 2014

Virginia: “Fairfax County Libraries Will Stop Tossing Materials, Drop Changes that Would Have Reduced Staff”

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Note: Links to background reports about this story are found at the bottom of this post.

From The Washington Post:

The trustees of the Fairfax County Public Library want to eliminate the process that led to the trashing of hundreds of thousands of books and also throw out a controversial plan to reduce the number of librarians and children’s services in county branches, the trustee board’s chair said Tuesday.

The trustees also said they were not kept informed of the major proposed changes in the library’s operations, by longtime library director Sam Clay, and that they had learned of that new discard policy through media reports. The trustees asked the Fairfax Board of Supervisors to improve spending on library materials, which they said fell from $6.33 per capita in 2000 to $2.11 per capita in 2011, far below the U.S. average of $5.90.

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As part of an overall “Strategic Plan” to remake the Fairfax libraries, a “beta plan” was introduced that would reduce staff in the branches, consolidate service desks, eliminate the requirement that branch managers have master’s of library science degrees , eliminate bachelor’s degrees as a requirement for library assistants, and require children’s librarians to spend most of their time devising reading programs instead of working in the library. Library employees as well as patrons protested loudly.

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From the Fairfax News

“What does all this mean?” [County Supervisor John C.] Cook asked. “Libraries everywhere are changing as new technology changes the nature of information gathering. Fairfax will slow down the pace of this change in order to consider it more carefully. Our libraries will continue to be staffed by trained librarians. Used books will not be discarded but will be made available for community use. Libraries will continue to examine ways to do more with less, since Fairfax County’s budget situation is unlikely to change much for the better in the near future, but they must respond to constraints in a way that respects and incorporates the thoughts and suggestions of their users — residents of Fairfax County.”

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Background

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.