The following comments about the Fairfax County Public Library Strategic Plan and the proposed “Beta Plan” are provided by Diane Lewis, a librarian and former RCA Board member.  RCA opposed the Beta Plan and called for a rewriting of the Library Strategic Plan in a resolution passed last month.

The Fairfax County Public Library Strategic Plan: A Document That Raises More Questions Than It Answers
Nowhere in the Fairfax County Public Library Strategic Plan document, “Customer Centered, Community Focused: A Strategy for Relevance”, is the plan for beta-testing the Burke and Reston Regional Libraries mentioned. In addition, neither Burke nor Reston had a representative on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. The Hunter Mill District Library Board of Trustees position is listed as vacant. A web search turned up the fact that the position is now filled.

As for the Fairfax Library Foundation Board of Directors, (except for Director Clay who is ex-oficio) none are identified as librarians. Out of 15 members, 7 are from the banking or business community and 2 are from the military. One Director is even from ExxonMobil Corporation.

Throughout the document, library users are called “customers” rather than patrons, citizens, or taxpayers. The focus is on a completely digital environment, with staff trained to fulfill multiple functions. The argument seems to be that libraries have been storage facilities and will become access points instead. Many researchers employ a browsing strategy to find items of interest in libraries. Without access to the shelves, this form of knowledge gathering is impossible.

Eliminating the requirement for the MLS in library professional positions or eliminating childrens’ librarians is not mentioned in this paper. I have personally asked Mr. Clay and his administrative staff for the actual document which addresses the beta-testing of Burke Centre and Reston Regional Libraries. Have had no luck with this request, nor have I been given assurance that we could get a list of the items weeded so far. As a librarian myself, I find this case to be getting “curiouser and curiouser.”