Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Virginia's Prime Directive on Public Libraries, Kathy Kaplan, June 3, 2014

The following is the statement made by Kathy Kaplan, Reston public library advocate, at last night's meeting at the Oakton Public Library on the future of the County's public libraries. 

Between 2006 and January 2014 we have lost the equivalent of four and a half regional libraries.  460,522 holdings.  There are state regulations that govern libraries.  There is even a PRIME DIRECTIVE.  (Remember Star Trek?)   You probably didn’t know there was a prime directive for the library.  And you may be surprised to learn it is included in the Virginia Code.

Virginia’s public library systems are deemed part of the state’s provision for public education.  (Code of Virginia § 42.1-46. Library policy of the Commonwealth. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Commonwealth, as a part of its provision for public education, to promote the establishment and development of public library service throughout its various political subdivisions.)

The library is not a provision for recreation.  A library is not a community center.  A library is more than a supplier of popular books.  A library is Virginia’s provision for public education.  Public education.  This is the PRIME DIRECTIVE.

These four books were the last copies in the Fairfax County Library collection.   Had they been left in the collection they would have continued to provide content for the self-directed education of our citizens.  As it is, they are evidence of a deliberate and malevolent misuse of county property, a violation covered in Virginia Code 15.2-2511.2. 

We need a new Library Strategic Plan.  We need an independent entity to manage the new survey.  Library Administration has violated of the Code of Virginia by misusing public property.  These four books were discarded in February and April 2014.  And that was after the Beta Plan was voted down by the Board of Supervisors last November.   

We  need a re-dedication of the library as a center for literacy and learning and to acknowledge the library’s PRIME DIRECTIVE as written into the Code of Virginia. 


  1. Between 2006 and 2014, how many books were added?

  2. There are plenty of other groups to blame for the decrease in the library's total number of books in its collection, not just library administration. The library's budget has been cut for several years now and the impact has been fewer books and staff.

    The Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County Government, and taxpayers all have to share the responsibility for the current state of our library system. Unfortunately, all we hear and read in different blogs and online articles are focused on blaming library administration and nobody else. The reality is a bit more complex and solutions will require moving on from what happened last year.


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