|George Mason Library in Annandale has lots of empty shelf space.|
That’s why a June 3 meeting of the Library Board of Trustees’ Communication and Evaluation Committee —7 p.m. at the Oakton Library—is so important.
|Oakton Library [Photo by Kathy Kaplan]|
The Board of Supervisors (BoS) had directed the library board to scrap the beta plan following a huge public outcry over what library advocates saw as a downgrading of professional standards. The BoS called for FCPS to seek more public engagement on the future of the libraries.
The June 3 meeting is the only opportunity for public comment on an upcoming survey of library stakeholders that will be used to develop a new strategic plan outlining the future of the library system.
“It is extremely important that members of the community who care about libraries attend this meeting,” said library advocate Kathy Kaplan, a volunteer at the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library.
Lots of empty shelves have been observed in recent months at several libraries, including the George Mason and Thomas Jefferson libraries in Mason District, along with the Oakton, Burke Center, and Richard Byrd libraries in other parts of the county.
The BoS directed the library board to overhaul its discard policy last fall after the discovery of hundreds of thousands of books in good condition in dumpsters at the FCLP’s Technical Operations Center.
Even though a new policy approved by the board requires four signatures before a book can be discarded, Kaplan has recently seen bins full of discarded books at Tech Ops. Many of them were art books, children’s, and young adult books in very good to excellent condition.
|Burke Centre Library [Photo by Kathy Kaplan]|
Books slated for discarding are supposed to be given to Friends’ groups for book sales to the public, but “Clay is still dumping books,” she said. “Books that are transferred from one branch to another are intercepted at Tech Ops and a considerable number are being dumped.”
“There is no reason for them to be dumped—except to continue to clear out the libraries of books,” Kaplan said.
Several advocates at a May 14 library board meeting at George Mason Regional Library expressed concerns about the empty shelves and what they see as destructive FCPL policies.
Tammi Petrine, a member of the board of the Reston Citizens Association, called for the community to be involved in the future of the library system and urged the trustees to take charge and protect the libraries.
“Books are valuable. If something is to be excised from our system, let it be those administrators who are NOT supporting, protecting, and growing our libraries,” Petrine said. “In my mind, beta has not gone away; it has gone deep underground. We are watching. We are awake. We are angry.”
Marcia McDevitt spoke about the devolution of culture and the loss of heritage when the library retains 149 copies of Fifty Shades of Gray and discards the last copy of a book about Lorenzo Ghiberti, the Florentine sculptor whose feud with Brunelleschi sparked the Renaissance.
Ariel Kaplan addressed the dwindling numbers of young adult books in the FCPL collection and said many of her teenage friends in the western part of the county are going to better-stocked libraries in Loudoun County.
In response to the public comments at the meeting, the trustees said library patrons should contact their supervisors about the empty shelves and lobby for increased funding.
The trustees told the audience they have urged the BoS to provide more funding for the libraries but they are powerless to effect change alone. This is the first time in the past five years that the FCPL budget is not being slashed. The 2015 budget would add $250,000, and that is just because of the public outrage over the beta plan.