Fairfax Libraries to Stop Tossing Books, Put Brakes on Staffing Changes

Library trustees said they didn't know about proposed changes until they read about them in media reports.

County supervisors and library trustees have agreed to stop tossing donated books, and scrap proposed changes to staffing. (Photo: Jennifer van der Kleut/Patch)
County supervisors and library trustees have agreed to stop tossing donated books, and scrap proposed changes to staffing. (Photo: Jennifer van der Kleut/Patch)
By Mary Ann Barton

The trustees of the Fairfax County Public Library system (FCPL) want the county to spend more money on books, stop throwing them away, and get rid of a plan to streamline staff and services, board chair Willard O. Jasper told county supervisors Tuesday.

Tossing out books? Back in September, Fairfax County Supervisor Linda Smyth (Providence District) had heard that books were being tossed and decided to take a look. She checked out a trash bin near the Chantilly technical operations center, the Washington Post reported, and found stacks of discarded books, many in good condition.

Fairfax County supervisors voted Tuesday to implement the trustees’ recommendations, and asked the trustees to give them a timeline on Jan. 14.

The library trustees said Tuesday they didn't know about the proposed changes in for library operations, said Sam Clay, library director, and in fact, said they found out about the library's discard policy when they read about it in the media, The Washington Post reported. 

“The board establishes policy,” Clay told The Post. “How you implement the policy is my job.” 

The strategic plan for the library system can be found here.

The trustees delivered two reports to the supervisors Tuesday: 

In the report, they recommend surveying the public about their use of the libraries. 

"There is broad concern from both the public and staff that reductions to the materials budget in recent years are eroding the first-class library system desired by the community," the report states. "This concern is reflected in partially empty shelves, reduced children’s and nonfiction materials and, in general, more dated collections."

The trustees asked the Fairfax Board of Supervisors to improve spending on library materials, which they said fell from $6.33 per capita in 2000 to $2.11 per capita in 2011, far below the U.S. average of $5.90.

Here's a comparison of 2010 spending, per capita:

1. Washington, D.C.: $67.78

2. Arlington County: $56.01

3. City of Alexandria: $45.78

4. Montgomery County: $40.91

5. Fairfax County: $34.11

6. Prince William County: $32.60

7. Prince George's County: $32.46

A per-person library materials expenditure comparison for the same time frame shows:

1. Arlington County: $5.78

2. District of Columbia: $4.92

3. Prince George's County: $4.51

4. City of Alexandria: $3.85

5. Montgomery County: $3.69

6. Prince William County: $3.61

7. Fairfax County: $2.92

8. Loudoun County: unavailable

ALSO READ: What You Need to Know About the Proposed Library Changes

TELL US - What improvements do you think need to be made to your local library? Weigh in, in the comments below.


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