January 20, 2022

Virginia: “Fairfax County Library Revamps System, Discards Books, Reduces Librarians”

This following article from The Washington Post has more about discarded library books (here’s our post from Sunday) and also looks at plans to revamp the entire library system.

From WaPo:

The discarded books have opened a broader discussion about the library’s long-term plan, which would eliminate the requirement for fully trained librarians, reduce branch staff and cut the amount of time children’s librarians spend helping families inside their libraries.


[Sam] Clay [Fairfax County Library Director] has proposed hiring librarians who may not have master’s degrees to run branches, hiring people without bachelor’s degrees to staff the libraries, and having children’s librarians spend 80 percent of their time devising and running outreach programs instead of working in the libraries. He said jobs would be eliminated by retirements and attrition, not by layoffs.

On Discarded Books

When [a new efficiency and cost saving] program was launched last October, volunteer Friends of the Library groups were no longer allowed to review discards. Instead, all discards were sent to the Chantilly technical operations center. Minutes from a January branch managers’ meeting state that 100,000 books were removed from shelves in the first three months of the plan.

As books began disappearing from the shelves, Tresa Schlecht of the Friends of Tysons-Pimmit branch and others pleaded with library administrators to allow the Friends to rescue books, their e-mails show. Then Schlecht did her own literary Dumpster dives this spring, taking photographs of hundreds of books, including “Harry Potter” books and other seemingly desirable volumes, stuffing the dumpster in Chantilly.

Since May about 3,000 discarded books have been provided to various Friends groups. The Fairfax County Library discards approximately 20,000 books each month. 

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Fairfax County Library Strategic Plan (2013-2015)
26 pages; PDF.

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.