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Monday Morning Rundown

by Karen Goff — March 28, 2016 at 9:00 am 9 Comments

Heron House in Spring

Improving Fairfax’s Libraries — The Fairfax County Public Library system’s Board of Trustees in embarking on an interactive project to solicit public and staff input about the types of services and programs Fairfax County Public Library could offer in the future. [Fairfax County]

Save the Date: Living Well Summit — The Fairfax Area Living Well, Aging Well Summit is April 16 at the Fairfax County Government Center, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Learn about transportation and mobility innovation, aging in place, and take part in health screenings and more. [Living Well Fairfax]

Happy Birthday, Metro — Metro turns 40 this week, but the system is not aging so well. [WTOP]

  • Ming the Merciless

    The main service the library could offer is the unique and innovative one I call STOP THROWING BOOKS AWAY.

    The number of books on the selves in the Reston branch is noticeably less than what it was 5 or 10 years ago.

    • SpinsterLady

      As a former librarian assistant I can tell you that there is NO way that a library could survive without tossing books. For one thing lots and lots of books have a literal shelf life- think old travel books, technology books, etc. Some books, especially kids books become so filthy dirty that the only safe course of action is to throw them away. (Honesty for health reasons!) There’s limited space in libraries, selling and throwing away books is the only way to insure that the public has relevant reading materials. It’s really not a sinister plot.

      • Ming the Merciless

        You haven’t been following the story about FCPL. They have been throwing away new, perfectly good books.

        Also, there is not “limited space” in the Reston branch. The shelves themselves are not packed, and furthermore they have been removing shelves to make room for idiocies like the “teen area” or whatever it is that now occupies the space where the reference books used to be.

      • Tammi Petrine

        Oh, SpinsterLady, We are not talking about normal tossing here. Many, many valuable books in ALL categories including art, science and math books have disappeared in addition to literary classics (adult’s and children’s) and other volumes that any good library should have in its collection. (We know about obsolete texts or poopy kids books but this is NOT what we are facing.) We have lost 150K items. No, this is a concerted order given by highest levels of FFX Co. gov’t to reduce the marginal costs of FCPL system to zero! What a crime!!! The library costs almost NOTHING as a share of the total county budget (7/10 of one %) but brings back into the county $4 to $9 in value for every $1 spent. What other investment has this high of a payback???

        This purposeful destruction of our book collection is idiocy at the basest levels. If the BOS does not step up to stop this travesty, the result will be a legacy for each and every one of them. And yes, SpinsterLady, this indeed IS A SINISTER PLOT and as short-sighted as a literate society can envision. This goes against every goal the American Library Assoc. has ever had. WE citizens are stupified by this behavior. Good schools and robust libraries are a must in any 21st Century successful community.

        Ming and others commenting here are right. A visit to any FCPL branch will attest to the reduced shelving (it has been removed for what reason? Oh, to not make obvious the severely reduced collection? Or, to show that the library budget is so pitiful that labor to re-shelve the books does not exist so the books are thrown out instead vs. hiring pages to do this job? We taxpayers are being cheated when our collection of almost new and /or valuable books is discarded for whatever reason. How many more times does this problem have to brought into the public eye before this systemic looting of our publicly purchased treasure is stopped??? Do we need to hold every head library administrator accountable for protecting what is left or be charged with theft? Every day more are discarded. ENOUGH. (In my book, librarians are heroes. Many have been cowed into silence for fear of retribution from those in power. Serious house cleaning is in order!!!)

        • John Higgins

          Tammi, this topic interests me. Enough so that I’m inclined to dig deeper to understand the thinning of hard copy materials on the shelves. Less visible is the thinning of professional librarians among staff. That’s an impressive return on investment; might you share with us what you mean by “value returned” for each dollar of Library spending? Thanks.

          • Tammi Petrine

            John, thanks for your question. Reston 2020 did some research on the amount of funding for FCPL vs. what other parts of country are doing. We were shocked to discover that FFX Co’s Method of Operation is highly unusual. Most places in the face of income stagnation are making libraries more important; not cutting their funding to the bare bone and below. The reason is simple. Economic impact studies have shown that for every $1 spent on libraries, the community received back between $4 – $9 in measurable return. Please access the Reston2020.blogspot.com to find the studies that we reference. We looked at systems all over the country: Texas, Florida, west coast, Baltimore, DC, Montgomery Co., etc. One I was able to isolate for you about the Seattle Library system is below: Copy and paste, please.

            http://reston2020.blogspot.com/search/label/Library%20Board%20of%20Trustees?updated-max=2015-06-09T16:30:00-04:00&max-results=20&start=5&by-date=false

            And you are exactly on point about the FCPL admin’s short-sightedness of shutting out and/or retiring our best senior librarians. What treasures these highly educated, public servants (in the best tradition of that phrase) are!!! We are losing them in droves due to the dismal forecast ahead for them in our system. These folks don’t grow on trees nor are they easily replaced. These people are the front line in a war to educate our people from cradle to grave. The movement to dumb down our society will win if these folks and a robust library system are not retained and maintained.

            Some want the library to become everything for all people. Without massive funding it will do NOTHING. And massive funding is not in the cards so I don’t know why FFX Co. BOS is trying to force the library system to be a sub-set of the Park Authority which is what is rumored to be in the works. (Reston in Hunter Mill District can see how well the FCPA has done for us but that is a whole other sad story.)

            The idea that maker spaces and meeting spaces are the goal of a library is not what citizens trying to become literate and stay well informed need. Maker spaces are now available in Reston with a wonderful private resource as they can be in other parts of the county OR they can become part of the FCPA mission vs. providing land for a septage dump on park property. Meeting spaces can occur on library property but meeting spaces are not the prime focus of libraries in this era of scarce county funding dollars. In Reston, we have STD #5 funded community centers, RA, schools and generous religious institutions for this purpose. Library computer access certainly is a priority for those in community unable to afford that privately.

            Sorry for this long answer but there is so much to tell in the battle to save our FCPL system. Thanks for caring.

        • Restontimes

          Ms Petrine…you make it sound as if the county is burning books… They are not. Libraries around the world are culling their books as it is the logical thing to do. In the fields of math, science, medicine, even business and economics, advances are taking place too fast to be handled in print. Most scholars (and universities) started down the digital path many years ago to allow access to the latest in theory and fact electronically.

          Yes fiction still has its place on the shelf, but even here, many believe there are ways to minimize the physical storage.

          Libraries are no longer in the business of circulating books. They are now looking to innovative ways to focus on their core competencies – educate and provide community service. Libraries are at their best when they are acting as the town square, a place to gather, share, collaborate, a place for patrons to get access to the information and services they need. A recent survey of library patrons showed 40% used library computers for career and education needs.

          Libraries are now working with their communities to address the priorities of the community. Believe it or not, books are going lower and lower on the list.

          • Tammi Petrine

            Restontimes: I don’t believe for one second that the amount of ‘culling’ is in any way reflective of the best interests of an educated society. The devil is in the details. You may not favor print materials but research is proving that print is often much more effective in retaining material than e-readers. I am not going to get into that debate. This is not about ebooks vs. print matter. This is about us losing our print collection without mandate from the public. “Culling” is not burning. Culling is selling to pulp mills for a FEW PENNIES per POUND. Absolutely criminal. If FFX Co. will not employ enough pages to re-shelve books, at least donate them to needy families, institutions or rural libraries all of whom would be thrilled to get them. Why the secrecy on what happens to our ‘culled’ collection, Restontimes? Because the voters would flip out if they knew what the FCPL administration is doing, that’s why!!!

          • Kathy Kaplan

            In the first six months of Fiscal Year 2016, Fairfax County Library discarded 165,934 holdings. That is more than in the entire Fiscal Year for 2015, 164,495 holdings. The county isn’t burning books, but they are recycling them for two cents a pound for pulp. Many of those books were in very good to pristine condition.

            One of the Federation board officers visited Fairfax City Regional Library looking for advanced math books at the end of February. There were none. He was told by the library staff, “If you don’t check them out within 24 months, we are forced to throw them out.” What a wasteful practice and it has not been the policy since early 2014. None of the books on his math list are available as ebooks. Math is not something that goes out of date, why are math books being tossed? Why now are books being thrown out in huge numbers while we wait for a new library
            director? Who issued the orders for mandatory 24-month low demand
            discards?

            Most people want print books in their libraries. Surrounding library systems are not destroying their print collections. Why is Fairfax County?

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