Tuesday, August 27, 2013

RCA Resolution on Library Operations and Proposed "Beta Plan"

Whereas, world-class libraries are essential to Fairfax County’s economic competitiveness and attractiveness to potential residents and businesses, and,

Whereas, Fairfax County spending per capita on public libraries dropped over 30% between FY 2007 and FY 2012, and library spending as a share of the County budget has dropped by one-third over the same period, and,

Whereas, per capita usage of County libraries, both online and in person, has dropped during the period that library budgets have been cut, and,

Whereas, the number of items in the library system’s collection has declined from 2.5 million in 2005 to 2.24 million as of August 2013, and,

Whereas, the proposed “Beta Plan” under consideration by the Library Board would:

  • Reduce the staff positions at Reston Regional Library, the County’s largest and busiest library, from 20.5 to 13.5;
  •  Remove specialized positions dedicated to children’s literature;
  • Eliminate the Master of Library Sciences (MLS) degree as a requirement for librarian and branch manager positions; and,

Whereas, the Library Strategic Plan approved in September 2012 proposes a transition from print books to digital “e-books,” and calls for a reduction in the proportion of library floor space devoted to books in favor of expanded space for computers, Internet access, and meeting rooms, and,

Whereas, there has not been adequate time for community input on either the Beta Plan or the Library Strategic Plan approved last year,


The Reston Citizens Association –

  • Strongly opposes the proposed Beta Plan, and calls for it to be cancelled.
  • Calls for a new Library Strategic Plan to be developed with full participation of all library stakeholders, including citizens, staff, volunteers, and members of library Friends groups, that includes metrics and standards for success that are agreed to by the community,
  • Calls for library funding as a share of County expenditures to be restored to at least FY 2007 levels.
  • Endorses the position that libraries should be considered a core responsibility of the County.


  1. I support moving to digital libraries and reducing or eliminating bricks and mortar libraries as they are fast becoming an anachronism and are costly to staff and maintain. While I, too, have grown up with libraries and am fond of them, I have not been inside a library for decades, and don't foresee entering one in the future.

    1. Thanks for the comment, RestonBlogger. Out of curiosity, why have you not been to the library in decades? I don't agree that bricks-and-mortar libraries are becoming an "anachronism"; for the many people who don't have or can't afford e-readers, physical books are still important.

      Do you envision libraries that are entirely digital/virtual, and if so, how would you provide access for those without computers and/or e-readers?