Letter: Bad Plan for County Libraries

Letter: Bad Plan for County Libraries

Chairman Bulova:

I find it very disturbing that after many hours of public meetings, hundreds of speakers, and thousands of emails and petition signatures about the proposed "strategic redirection" of Fairfax libraries you can still believe that absolutely dreadful plan contains many ideas "of value" which "should continue to be explored." The problem was not that the plan was "too much for the organization to absorb;" the problem was that the plan was a bad plan which was condemned as such by staff and public alike. What is worth pursuing about lowering educational requirements and eliminating the expectation that there be any actual librarians in our libraries or in eliminating staff specializing in service to children?

This was not a plan to enhance or improve our libraries. It was a plan which would degrade our library services and devalue our library staff. Fairfax libraries do not suffer from a failure to reinvent themselves. They suffer from years of budget cuts and staff reductions. Fairfax libraries have fallen behind neighboring systems because we have been increasingly unwilling to fund them. The library budget has been gutted by 25 percent over the last few years and the materials budget slashed by 2/3. No misguided search for further "efficiencies" will rectify that situation. Only a restoration of appropriate funding will solve the ills which afflict our libraries.

Please listen to the clear message from library users and library staff. We want no part of the despised "Beta plan." It needs to be tossed in the dumpster just as hundreds of thousands of taxpayer purchased books were over the last year. Our libraries need a restoration of funding, a restoration of staff morale, a restoration of public trust in library leadership, and a restoration of hope that Fairfax County is indeed committed to supporting the sort of first class library system a County of our wealth and population deserves.

Charles Keener