by RCA Board Member – Dennis Hays

On September 14th the Friends
of Fairfax Libraries
held a Forum to discuss ways to
better advocate for the preservation and strengthening of the
County’s twenty-three libraries. 
Various speakers urged advocates
for the libraries (1) to learn the facts about the state of our libraries,
(2) to seek allies willing to support common sense actions, and (3) to have
specific proposals rather than just complaints. Multiple individuals noted
the libraries serve a great variety of individuals and groups, not all of them
immediately obvious. These groups should be sought out and enlisted in the
effort to save our libraries. 
The event drew over 60
participants, including a significant number of representatives from local
government, employee organizations and social activism groups. County
Supervisor Linda Smyth (Providence District), who has taken a personal interest
in library issues, explained the County’s budget process and how best the
public can make its voice heard. Also present were members of the Library Board
of Trustees and representatives from the offices of Chairwoman Bulova and
Supervisors Foust and Hudgins. Groups present included the League of Women
Voters, the Federation of Citizens Associations, the Fairfax County Government
Employees Union, the FC Public Library Employees Association, the Virginia
Civic Engagement Table, the Virginia New Majority, the Alliance for Human
Services, the American Federation of Teachers and SEIU Local 512. 
Other speakers focused on the
cutbacks the libraries have endured and felt that they were under a continued
“assault,” including the recently shelved “
Beta Plan
proposal that could have diminished the entire library system and done away
with children’s and young adult programs. Participants also expressed great
concern about large scale destruction of books in good condition and questioned
the failure to fill over 60 vacancies even though the Fairfax Library system
had been provided the budget to hire qualified librarians and fully staff
libraries to improve the quality of the services and support provided. The
Fairfax Library system was recently ranked 15th out of 19 districts in our
. This is unacceptable in one of the most prosperous counties in the
RCA supports efforts by the public
to reverse the diminution of one of the most important pillars of our society. Individuals
are encouraged to contact their elected and appointed county
representatives and urge that:
Books not be wantonly destroyed or
sold for pennies on the dollar.
The Fairfax Library system be
scoped and staffed according to best practices and national benchmarks for
library systems across the nation and use the available financial and other
resources fully and effectively to enhance the library system to support a
growing and prosperous county.

your thoughts to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at