Thursday, February 27, 2014

RCA to Recognize Kathy Kaplan as Citizen of the Year March 10th

The Reston Citizens Association will present its 2013 Reston Citizen of the Year award to longtime Restonian Kathy Kaplan at a ceremony in the Community Room of the Reston Community Center, Hunters Woods, at 7:30 PM, Monday, March 10.   The award recognizes Ms. Kaplan’s exemplary leadership, perseverance, effectiveness, and commitment to Reston’s values in her continuing efforts to protect the future of the County’s public libraries, including Reston Regional Library.  
The ceremony will be followed by a reception with refreshments and drinks in the Community Room.  The public is encouraged to attend.

“Kathy’s award is a demonstration of the power of individual citizens to make a big difference in the community,” said RCA President Colin Mills.  “We in Reston love our library, and we’re grateful to Kathy for everything she’s done to protect it.”

A published author of poetry and children’s books, Ms. Kaplan is an avid user of the Reston Regional Public Library.  Noticing that the bookshelves were increasingly empty, she began to investigate the causes. 
Through intense personal outreach and research of obscure County documents, she discovered that the County has thrown away hundreds of thousands of good books, reduced the County’s library budget, and cut the professional librarian staff—including gutting the youth program—as part of a Board-approved departmental strategic plan.  The basic goal of the plan was to convert the County public libraries almost exclusively to e-books and downgrade the remaining degreed librarian positions in the name of “accelerated organizational efficiencies.”   The strategy called for making Reston Regional the ground-zero “Beta Plan” pilot beginning late last year.

Working with equally concerned librarians and mobilizing civic organizations across the County, including the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations, the League of Women Voters, and RCA, she helped force a review and ultimately abandonment of the “Beta Plan” by the Library Board of Trustees and the County Board of Supervisors.  Among those she contacted, the RCA Board early on approved a resolution calling for an end to the destruction of library books, abandonment of the “Beta Plan,” and a re-thinking of the library strategy.  At the request of the FCFCA leadership, she researched and co-authored a report for the FCFCA approved by its Board that detailed the County’s library actions and plans.  She also worked with Supervisor Patti Smyth who personally visited the site where the library books were being dumped and then directed the suspension of any further destruction of books in good repair. 

Ms. Kaplan also testified before the County’s Library Board of Trustees and the Board of Supervisors about what was happening in the County’s libraries and its impact on the community.  As a result of her efforts and other concerned County citizens, the Board directed the Library Trustees to investigate the book destruction and re-think the library strategy.   Her efforts and those of her compatriots now focus on restoring the public library budget, staff, and collections, an effort that will take years.

The RCA Citizen of the Year Award was established in 1976.  Past winners of the award include Janet Howell, Embry Rucker, Jim Allred, Claudia Thompson-Deahl, Dave Edwards, and last year’s winner, Reston Association CEO Cate Fulkerson.

The selection criteria for the Citizen of the Year award are:
1.     The nominee has been a Reston resident for at least 5 years.
2.     The nominee’s actions are consistent with the goals of Reston, and of RCA.
3.     The nominee’s actions have contributed to the quality of life in Reston.
4.     People in need of help have benefited from the nominee’s actions.
5.     The nominee’s deeds were done without thought of personal benefit or recognition.
6.     The nominee is not currently serving as an elected public official or a member of the Board of a major community organization (RA, RCA, or RCC).

In addition to the award Ms. Kaplan will receive at the ceremony, her name will be engraved in the plaque containing the names of all past RCA Reston Citizen of the Year award winners that hangs in perpetuity at the Hunters Woods RCC.

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