The Public Library is a Vital Component of Public and Private Education
We state unequivocally that the public library is a fundamental component of the public and private school systems in our community. Fairfax County Government places education first on its list of priorities. Our public library must be an indivisible part of that priority. A creative high performing public library is an indispensable pillar supporting the education structure in this County as well as providing crucial support to parents who choose to home school their children.
The Public Library is an Essential Service
We support the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations’ effort to introduce and pass legislation in the Virginia General Assembly to categorize the public library as an essential service in the Commonwealth. We will work with Delegates and Senators who represent Northern Virginia to enact this proposal into law.
Restoration of Funding Needed Immediately
Everyone loves the library but libraries cannot live on love. Adequate and stable funding is required. Public libraries in jurisdictions surrounding Fairfax County score higher on every measure of output. We believe that the residents of Fairfax County want and deserve a high performing public library on par with their neighbors. We call upon the Board of Supervisors to reverse years of diminished funding by adding the $2 million requested by the Library Board of Trustees last year to FCPL’s FY2016 budget.
Opposition to Staffing Cuts for Fiscal Year 2016
All agencies were directed by the County Executive to submit proposals to cut their FY2016 budgets by 3%, equaling an $800,000 loss for FCPL. We oppose the proposed elimination of 21 merit positions, positions which deliver direct service to the public, to accomplish a $500,000 reduction in the Library’s budget with the remaining $300,000 coming from unspecified savings in personnel expenditures. We support retaining and filling these positions to remedy the staffing shortages the Library is now experiencing. The number of unfilled positions has made continuous use of overtime necessary and has seriously weakened staff morale.
Restoration of the Library’s Print Collection
Since 2004 in a deliberate action to downsize the library, the collection has sustained a net loss of over 400,000 holdings. That’s the equivalent of four regional libraries’ worth of books. Nonfiction books—religion, history, philosophy, art, art history, geology, physics, poetry, engineering, mathematics, travel, and biography represent the record of our culture and our civilization. In an effort to create a collection focused only on popular reading materials, nonfiction books were systematically removed from our library. We support the restoration of the library’s collection of nonfiction print books to one worthy of the highly educated residents of Fairfax County.
An Exceptional Library Director is Needed to Take the Library Forward
We support the Library Board of Trustees’ Search Committee in its declared intent to conduct a nationwide search for the best-qualified candidate to become FCPL’s new Director. We urge the Committee to select a candidate with a proven record of successful outreach and connection to public and private education, the business community, and the philanthropic sector. The new Director must demonstrate the ability to articulate a clear vision for the future direction of a public library that can win support, both popular and financial, from our political leaders and our diverse community for the long-term security and success of an institution that serves everyone.