In the Spring of 2013 Fairfax County Public Library embarked on a new procedure to save money. That procedure was called floating. Previously books checked out from other branches were returned to their "home" library. Under the new procedure, books now "float" and that means they stay in the branch they are returned to. If a library patron borrows a book from Reston Regional and returns it to Lorton Library, the books stays at Lorton Library. Previously it would have come "home" to Reston Regional.
There are some unanticipated consequences of floating. Library collections have become unbalanced when more books are taken from a branch than are returned to that branch. When more books were returned to a branch which did not have space on its shelves for the additional books, they were transferred. A significant percentage, 27%, were discarded. Some libraries have lost large parts of their collections as their books have floated away, including collections donated to that specific library branch by their Friends of the Library members.
A number of library staffers and Friends of the Library have been having a discussion about floating this week and we would like to open the discussion up to include other library staffers and patrons. There are multiple issues regarding floating and I hope in the course of the conversation, we will cover those issues pro and con. Please post your comments to the bottom of this article. You can do so anonymously if you wish.
If you have friends who would also like to participate in the discussion, please send them a link to this article.
Fairfax Library Advocates