Autumn on Lake Audobon

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Seven Points to Consider," Charles Keener letter to the Fairfax County Public Library Board of Trustees, September 28, 2014




Dear Fairfax County Public Library Board ,

Please consider the following points as you deliberate on the library budget.

- It is NOT true that you can not use the same proposals made in previous years
.

- Eliminations of staff positions now will be PERMANENT  Based on long experience, eliminated positions are NEVER recovered.   Is it wise to flush those positions now with a new library Director and better economic news on the way ?

- If you MUST offer budget cutting proposals consider proposing the most unpopular cuts possible - closing Sundays for instance.   Make the proposed cuts as undesirable for the Board of Supervisors as possible.  This is what many other County agencies and countless other library systems around the country do in these budget struggles

-If you MUST offer budget cutting proposal then DO NOT present those proposals as if they were benign  (i.e. Library Admin saying the staff positions proposed to be eliminated are not really needed due to technological advances).  Present the cuts as a very BAD thing   Stress that our libraries have already been cut to the bone and our library services have been degraded.   We are already at the BOTTOM for library funding in the DC area.   ANY further cuts are NOT RECOMMENDED and will only FURTHER DEGRADE our libraries.

-Do not simply accept the elimination of front line library staff but carefully consider all alternative proposals like those being offered by FCPLEA.

-Consider that technological advances are NOT a justification to reduce staff but are instead an OPPORTUNITY  to better serve our patrons.   Technology frees staff up to offer other services we did not have time for before   For instance, one of our circulation aides as TY has done a great deal to assist with adult programs  Proctoring was a popular service we used to offer but eliminated due to staff cuts.   We could bring that service back.  Many patrons still ask for this service.  Look at the freeing up of library staff from one set of tasks as a chance for them to engage in other desirable tasks NOT as a justification to further reduce a library workforce which has already been cut by hundreds over the last several years.

-Please adopt a posture of hope and determination to enhance and rebuild Fairfax County Public Libraries - not a posture of resignation to cut after cut after cut and a steady degrading of our libraries.

Make it clear we need MORE funding not less and that any cuts you propose are only because you are required to and are AGAINST YOUR ADVICE AND WISHES.  Our library collections and services have already been  cut beyond all reason.  It is time to REVERSE that trend.

Charles Keener


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