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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Woodrow Wilson Library will have fewer books when renovation is completed


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 renovation is expected to be completed in spring 2015. Meanwhile, the library has been relocated to temporary quarters in an office building at 6066 Leesburg Pike between Seven Corners and Bailey’s Crossroads.


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.

24 comments:

  1. No children's area??? In a library that's right next to the most crowded ES in the county? In a neighborhood that is overflowing with children??? What the heck are they thinking?!?!?

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    1. There is a children's area behind the stacks on the left. It is small and rather hidden location. Not a good plan!

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  2. Disaster. We need a supervisor that is stronger, fresher and more in tune with the future of this area. This should have been, or designed to combine, the 2nd building for Bailey's anyway - a HUGE miss.

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  3. Really - No children's reading area in a library. Who came up with that idiotic idea. This is unreal. I am just in disbelief that this is going on in this County. I agree we need a new Supervisor with fresh ideas for our District.

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    1. Who is the Supervisor here?

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  4. This is a travesty! The Bailey's and Culmore neighborhood children desperately need the space.

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  5. This is UNACCEPTABLE! How do we change this. I use this library regularly and the amount of children there is immense. Who made this idiotic decision?

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  6. Did I read someone say "we need a new Supervisor with fresh ideas for our District"...really? What a concept? Residents really do not want the same ole same ole over and over again, really? Do you mean it's not working...that Mason District is changing? WOW!

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  7. This is unacceptable. There is a need for a children's area at EVERY library but especially this one! Where was Penny Gross in all of this? Is there any chance to affect change? Is the renovation finished yet?

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  8. No Children's Area!!!! Unbelievable! How do you think they are going to be life-long readers if you don't start them out young? I frequent this Woodrow Wilson with my kids. I went to Woodrow Wilson when I was a kid. Sitting in the children's area and "getting lost in a book" is a total joy. Why not let other young people experience that joy? Right next door is an elementary school. And the library sits in the middle of a kid-filled neighborhood. I thought neighborhood libraries were supposed to serve the neighborhood. Under this plan, this library will fall way short. The plan needs to be revised. The library to be reinstated with reading access for all.

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  9. VA Librarian3/27/14, 11:27 AM

    Argh! As I librarian I need to caution not to confuse the two issues. A decrease in the number of books is not necessarily a bad thing if you are weeding books that are not circulating. Seems like a great opportunity to update the collection. {Having every discarded book signed off by three librarians?! Seems like overkill and kinda insulting to professional librarians} The REAL headline should be that there is no children's room/area.

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    1. It is just unbelievable. This County's mediocre solutions to every probably is just digging FFX into a deeper hole of desperate remedies for its urban deficiencies, changing demographics and shortfalls in its tax base. Its very disheartening to watch this and witness the BOS flounder with these new challenges.

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  10. As a child in the 1960's ,I grew up in this neighborhood and loved walking over to the Woodrow Wilson Library .It was such a treat as a child to be able to find great books and take them home to enjoy or read outside on a summers day.They even had movies that were shown on Saturdays and my friends and I would go over to Woodrow Wilson to enjoy them. How incredibly sad in a neighborhood that is filled with children needing some place to come is going to totally exclude them.Personally I think this is more about the library not wanting the children hanging around. I realize it's not meant to be a babysitting service,but were are they supposed to go afterschool if no one is at home.Best they be in a safe place learning something than to just be out wandering without anything to do.How on earth could you not include a childrens section.Poor choice.

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  11. VA Librarian3/27/14, 8:15 PM

    Hmmm...I would totally participate in a children's room rally once the new space is open.... {hint, hint}

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  12. Yes, there is a children's area. I went to the community meeting about a year ago when plan was presented and the children's was discussed. As the mother of small children I was most interested in this section.

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    1. VA Librarian3/28/14, 6:37 AM

      Thank you for this update. I'm guessing the shelving to the left of that rectangular carpet {?} is picture book shelving?

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  13. Children's area is in the back of the reading room,you can see the small tables, it is just not labeled.

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  14. Hummm..The temporary library has a small children's section. I bet there is one here too. :)

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  15. It's interesting to read these posts - some people want more children's space, some people want more books ... the entire library is about the size of a Pizza Hut, and as it was set up before the renovation there was barely enough room for a dozen people to sit and no quiet study area at all. This arrangement (at least on paper) looks much less claustrophobic.

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  16. I'm a little perplexed about why it is worth mentioning how many books are currently "assigned" to Woodrow Wilson library. The system no longer assigns books to branches. Books float, so they stay where people drop them off instead of being sent back to an owning branch. So if, according to this article, the temp building can only hold 10k, shouldn't the question be why are even 34k "assigned" to WW? As opposed to decrying the fact that only 34k are?

    As has been noted multiple times on this site over the past year, there are definitely reasons to discard books even if there is, supposedly, space available for them. It seems strange that while people seem to love libraries and their mission they are able, at the same time, to make the worst assumptions about the people who work there and their motivations. Why do you think librarians would chuck out **useful** books? It boggles the mind. The fact that 4 people have to sign off on tossing out a book that is clearly beyond repair or outdated is ridiculous.

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  17. In 2006 there were 72,743 holdings at Woodrow Wilson. In January 2014 that number was down to 33,401 which included 17,000 books in storage. That's a net loss of 39,342 holdings during that time. Books are checked in to individual libraries even though the collection floats so they can be located for holds.

    The entire FCPL collection has sustained a net loss of 460,522 holdings since 2006. 60,058 from Tysons-Pimmit, 52,087 from Pohick, 40,446 from George Mason. I won't list all the branches, but overall the FCPL collection has sustained a net loss of 20% of holdings. This was during the time when two branch libraries were added and we had an increase in population. Those numbers were calculated from the FCPL Collection Overview documents.

    I got the floor plan of the Woodrow Wilson renovation from Department of Public Works. It seemed to me that two tiny tables provided an inadequate children's space in a community library. And I believe that's what I told the reporter. I sent her a copy of the floor plan, but not the one in this article. My copy is black and white with my scrawly handwriting all over it with numbers for square footage. Our library at Reston Regional has five large tables in an L-shaped room with lots of room for strollers. While it is not a regional library, Patrick Henry has more space than planned at Woodrow Wilson It wouldn't take much to create a floor plan with adequate space for families with kids.

    The discard policy requiring four signatures was developed by Deputy County Executive Dave Molchany and instituted mid-February. On February 2, I pulled some books in very good condition from a discard bin at Tysons-Pimmit. They had come from Tech Ops. No way to know from which branch they were culled as the collection floats now. So I would say the discard policy was needed.

    For those who think all the books in the dumpster were trash, I will tell you I saw the books in Supervisor Smyth's office that she pulled from the dumpster at Tech Ops. I opened them and turned pages. They were all in very good condition. Some were pristine. If you love your library, now would be a good time to write your county supervisor and ask them to support the Library Board of Trustees budget request for additional funding to replace some of those books. And maybe for a few extra children's tables at Woodrow Wilson.

    Kathy Kaplan
    Reston

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    1. You're completely off base with all your assertions:

      1. There is a very large children's area in the graphic with this article. In fact, it's nearly 25% of the total floor space.

      2. More isn't better. It's just more. The biggest "reduction" most likely comes from duplicate reference works that are no longer needed with the move to on-line resources. Also, on-line resources are better for researchers at all education levels: easier access and better search tools.

      3. I've worked in several public libraries. We've had to toss "pristine" books that were outdated. No matter what their condition, outdated books DO NOT belong in a library.

      4. Four signatures to discard an outdated book is just silly. We're wasting librarians' time a dumb paperwork drill.

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  18. Joan Beacham from county DPWES stated in October 2012 that after renovation, "the collection of reading materials would be slightly reduced." http://annandaleva.blogspot.com/2012/10/renovation-of-woodrow-wilson-library-to.html

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  19. We’re not sure how these rumors get started, but Woodrow Wilson Library will have a large children’s area. Programs and services will reflect the community the library serves, so children will have a warm and comfortable area to browse the collection and will be able to attend wonderful programs planned by library staff. The library’s collection floats now, but Woodrow Wilson will open with the same number of books that it had when it closed, about 50,000. Please visit the Woodrow Wilson page of the library website where there is accurate information about the renovations and a floor plan which shows the sizeable children’s area. We’ll also add some photos of the renovation there. If you have any additional questions about the renovation, please call the library’s communications staff at 703-324-8319 or visit the Woodrow Wilson staff at their temporary site. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/branches/ww/

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