Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Testimony to the FCPL Board of Trustees, John Hanley, June 11, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is John Hanley and I live in South Reston.

Looking at the Ad Hoc Communications and Evaluation Committee, two over-arching elements stand out.

The first element is money. That the Fairfax County Library System staff is dedicated to providing the best services they can goes without saying. They all work extremely hard. But good people cannot do a good job without good resources. Our system presently ranks only 14th out of 19 systems in the DC metro area, according to the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. Other ratings draw similar conclusions. So I believe that a prime objective of your Committee should be to request as a priority to the Board of Supervisors that the Library budget be brought back to the levels of several years previously, over a five year period.

The second element is trust. A huge amount of trust in the library has been squandered over the last year or more. Among all stakeholders, there is anxiety and incomprehension about where the system is going and why the budget keeps getting cut year after year. You trustees need to work to regain that trust.

Four suggestions on how to start to bring this about.
1. Contract with a professional entity to carry out the proposed survey, independently of the library administration.  
2. Appoint two more Trustees to the Committee, to ensure that full information is always available for public review and discussion by all stakeholders.
3. Appoint at least three members of the public to the Committee. They are the prime constituents that you represent. 
4. Appoint at least three retired library professionals to the Committee.
Once you take actions like these, you will immediately re-engender just the feelings of trust and confidence that I fear you have recently lost. Everyone involved in the activities, from administrators to users and from staff to you yourselves will benefit from this open, cooperative approach. Confidence and enthusiasm will be re-established.

Don’t forget what you are. Trustees. Please live up to the obligation that this title implies.

John Hanley is a member of the RCA Board of Directors and the Coordinating Committee of RCA's Reston 2020 Committee.  

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