Supervisors Listen to Library Trustees, Scrap Future Changes

Reston Regional Library

The Fairfax County Public Library Board of Trustees said on Tuesday the county should reject the proposed plan that would bring big changes to county libraries, including Reston Regional.

The supervisors voted to implement the trustees’ recommendations and asked the trustees to give them a timeline for implementation on Jan. 14

Speaking at Tuesday’s Fairfax County board of Supervisors meeting, trustee chair William Jasper showed the supervisors two reports and a list of recommendations about the libraries’ future. He also said the board was not kept up-to-date on the proposed changes — which included a reduction in the number of librarians — or on the procedures that led to thousands of books being thrown out rather than sold to benefit the library.

The proposed beta plan — in which Reston Regional was slated to be a test branch — was introduced last spring. The plan called for reduced staff,  consolidated service desks, and an elimination of  the requirement that branch managers have master’s of library science degrees, among other features.

“There is no sentiment on the Committee, the Library Board of Trustees, staff, or the majority of public commenters to move forward with the Beta Plan, including its reclassification of positions,” the trustees said in their report.

“We found that converting to a Customer Service Specialist Class was demoralizing to staff, and that such a conversion would likely cause those with a Master of Library Science degree to apply for positions in other jurisdictions – not Fairfax County. This would potentially create a future in which there were nearly no professional librarians in any branch.”

There has been significant public backlash, and in September , the supervisors told the library trustees to re-examine the plan. They came back with the list of recommendations Tuesday.

The report also called for creative community partnerships as as a way to increase funding for the libraries, which have seen a significant reduction in funding recently.

“From a budget of over $34 million just a few years ago, the Fairfax County Public Library is now down to a budget of about $27 million,” the report stated. “These cuts have led to a more than 50% decrease in funds for library materials, and the impact has been noted by the public.”

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