During the meeting, Don Heinrichs, Mount Vernon Library Board Trustee and treasurer for the Friends, clarified some misinformation from the community and the media.
"The Library Board adopted a new strategic plan in September of last year. It is not an operating plan," he clarified. "It addresses enhancing services and also briefly addresses staffing issues."
Heinrichs said he knows there are many concerns from the community about staffing and the procedures for discarding books. However, the board decided in a previous meeting to suspend the controversial pilot program that would cut library staff.
The Fairfax County Library Board will evaluate many aspects of the county libraries including staffing and classification issues, consolidating help desks, discarding procedures and necessary improvements.
"A great bit of concern came from staffing. Technically, it is not a part of the reorganization plan, but it is related," Heinrichs said Sunday.
Heinrichs made it very clear that the county libraries have always recycled books that were no longer on the shelves. He said since the library changes have become a controversial issue, there is this "misconception about books being thrown in the dumpster and burned."
"If you're putting new books on the shelves, physically you must remove books as well," he explained. "How books are being discarded is also being evaluated by the board. Many books no longer in use are offered to Friends groups in the county first and then recycled if not needed."
Nora Gyuk, president of the Sherwood Friends group said they are currently looking for more donations for the Friends' book sale at Sherwood and also find themselves recycling books that can no longer be used.
"We love books and we try to keep many of them. But if we can't because they have mold or mildew, we have them recycled," she said.
Sherwood Branch Manager Denise Morgan said the library has made a number of improvements over the past few months — adding more training opportunities for ebooks, a program for home school students and other improvements that were suggested during a community meeting in May.
Heinrichs explained that improvements and activities the community may be interested in are all being considered by the board during their evaluation.
"We're willing to consider improvements and suggestions. We want to enhance the library experience," he said.
Of course, the budget for county libraries is a huge concern and will also be taken into consideration as they evaluate the issues and possible changes. Heinrichs said the board has been asked to prepare an interim report on library changes for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to be presented before the board during a meeting in November.
The library board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday to discuss the evaluation. A number of other community meetings to discuss the library changes have been scheduled across the county:
- Library Board of Trustees evaluation and communication subcommittee meeting, 7 p.m., Sept. 30, City of Fairfax Regional Library
- Public meeting, 7 p.m., Oct. 3, Centreville Regional Library
- Fairfax Town Meeting on Libraries, 7 p.m., Oct. 7, City of Fairfax Regional Library
- The Future of Our Public Libraries, 7 p.m., Oct. 7, Chantilly Regional Library
- Library Board of Trustees Meeting, 7 p.m., Oct. 9, Kings Park Library
- Community Dialogue on Libraries, 7 p.m., Oct. 10, Luther Jackson Middle School