News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bookpocalypse Later: Fairfax Library Plans Postponed, Not Yet Tossed in Dumpster Like So Many Unused Books


It took the spectacle of as many as a quarter-million library books being tossed into dumpsters making national headlines for it to happen, but the county's fun plans to use the Reston library as a guinea pig for its plans to downscale and downgrade library staff have been put on hold.
At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting to discuss the outcry over proposed changes to the county library system, the vice-chair of the Fairfax library Board of Trustees said Tuesday night that “the entire matter of these changes will be put on hold” until the library board can get more input from library staff and customers.
The plans, which involve eliminating the requirement that library staff have masters' degrees, cutting children and reference positions, and reducing overall headcount, were to be tested in Reston and Burke. Taken to the extreme, they could create a situation familiar to those who have read fished a discarded copy of Catch-22 out of a dumpster:
Legally, in the state of Virginia, if you do not have a MLIS degree, you can not call yourself a librarian. So, Fairfax County Public Library could become a library system without librarians.
Of course, all it takes is a sassy barista to run an Internet cafe, so it's all good.

The Reston Citizens Association issued a statement saying it opposed the plan. But it took a county supervisor fishing around in a dumpster to draw broader attention to the proposed changes.
Hearing complaints that the Fairfax County Public Library was throwing away tons of books, County Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence) decided to peer into a Dumpster.

Twice, she found stacks and stacks of high-quality books, bought by the taxpayers, piled in the trash. The second time, she filled a box.

“If I didn’t pick up some of these books,” Smyth said, “no one would believe it.”
A petition opposing the changes continues to circulate, a public hearing scheduled for tonight is expected to draw a crowd, and library director Sam Clay has come under fire for the changes. But, to be fair, it's the county supervisors who, when they're not busy crawling around in dumpsters, have cut the library budget repeatedly in recent years.
Clay, who has been head of the Fairfax library system for 31 years, defended his plan as necessary to deal with declining budgets and to remake libraries in the digital age. The strategic plan lists the first part of its “future direction” as transitioning from “a print environment to a digital environment.”

“We’ve got to turn that around. . . . We’ve got to get the library in the community, to bring people to the table,” Clay said. “I want to be the table.”
Right now, he's too busy being pushed under that table by the same people who've cut his budget, the end.


  1. You know I've often thought of becoming a golf club.

  2. This is an outrage.

  3. Sam Clay should resign. He has ossified in his position. 31 years is far too long.

  4. Instead of jelly doughnut, he could say, Ich bin ein Tisch.

  5. The idea of a "library" staffed by over-educated "librarians" with master's degrees is ... an old idea. Also: The entrance to this broken-down building is disgusting. Pull some weeds, people. Fix that dreary entry area. Yeesh! The end.

  6. I just googled the phrase "book recycling"

    came up with and

    did not take a library degree.....


  7. 'The price of libraries is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation'

  8. Time for Sam Clay to retire...pleeze!

    1. Really not all his fault. The county has cut the library budget for years, and now they're putting the blame on him.

  9. If the library budget is being cut, why on earth are you throwing books away!

  10. what were they really planning on changing in the reston library. The FAQ on the library site doesn't make sense. My take

    1. remove the desk in the middle of the library and add some chairs or something
    2. have all the staff work out of the front desk.

    i can't figure out what all this is about. if this is it, the library is really doing a bad job telling us what they are doing.

  11. What would happen if the Reston library branch closed? Where would the residents of Embrey Rucker sleep during the day??? Sad.

  12. The problem as I see it is Sam Clay. He should GO. Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, with some of the best public schools to match. Why should FX County have as it's public library system administrators an out of touch moron who thinks that public services need to be "streamlined" downward at a time when we need them even more?

    FX County Resident Since 1966
    Former FCPL staffer from 1985-1990


(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).