Autumn on Lake Audobon

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

Thursday, January 22, 2015

No wonder our Library collection is shrinking: Materials acquisition has plummeted for more than a decade..

Budget information provided by the Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) shows that amount devoted to buying new materials--books, magazines, e-books, databases, etc.--has shrunk dramatically since FY 2000, and even more steeply since the peak year of FY 2006.  Overall, the materials budget has shrunk by nearly half since FY 2000 while the county's total General Fund expenditures (basically operating expenditures that exclude capital investments) have increased by 83% over the same timeframe.

Maybe more importantly, real spending per capita--recognizing both the increase in our county population and the decreased value of the dollar--has shrunk by nearly two-thirds.

The library's Collection Overview corroborates the decline in materials acquisitions.  In FY 2006 (the earliest year for which we have information), the library acquired 368,225 items.  Last fiscal year, the library acquired only 131,110 items--a 64% cut in materials acquisitions.  At a 62% reduction, the percentage cut in number of items acquired is almost identical to the cut in the materials budget from FY 2006 to FY 2014.

It is no wonder, then, that the number of items in the library materials collection has shrunk by 440,000 items through FY 2013 (still no data publicly available on FY 2014 which ended last June), especially in the face of the library's hyper-aggressive culling policies and practices.


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