|The floor plan for the renovated Wilson Library.|
When the Woodrow Wilson library renovation is completed and the library reopens, it will have a lot fewer books, says library activist Kathy Kaplan.
Kaplan, a member of the Friends of the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library and chair of the library committee of the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations, obtained lots of Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) documents through the Freedom of Information Act.
|The Wilson Library is undergoing renovations.|
About three or four years ago, the Wilson library had 74,000 to 75,000 books, Kaplan says. To prepare for the relocation, about 17,000 books were put in storage and many more were sent to other libraries. The book count was down to about 50,000 when staff starting packing for the move to the temporary library, which only has space for 10,000.
As of January, there were 34,410 books, including those in storage, assigned to the Wilson library, which is “a huge decrease,” Kaplan says.
The new building will be about 2,000 square feet larger than the old one. It will have more space for community meetings, but Kaplan says it won’t have a children’s reading area. That’s a problem, as the Wilson Library is next to the large Culmore apartment complex in Bailey’s Crossroads, where there are many children who depend on the library for reading materials.
|The temporary Wilson Library is in an office building.|
It was Kaplan’s activism on behalf of the county’s public libraries and opposition to FCPL Library Director Sam Clay’s plan to restructure the library system, known as the “beta plan,” that led to the discovery of hundreds of thousands of library books in dumpsters.
Library advocates mobilized widespread opposition to the beta plan, which gained traction as the public learned that the library system was trashing books in good condition. The Board of Supervisors terminated the beta plan in late 2013 and ordered FCPL to revise its book discard policy.
The new policy, implemented last month, requires every book to be discarded to be signed off by three librarians and a representative of the library friends group that is taking the book, Kaplan says.
Before the new policy, the library system was discarding about 20,000 books a month across all the branches. Meanwhile there are lots of empty shelves in many libraries. “There is no reason to discard books if there is space for them. Taxpayers paid money for those books,” Kaplan says.