District of Columbia libraries need advocates to speak out now

01 Apr 2012 11:26 PM | Richard Huffine (Administrator)
Friends and colleagues -

The Mayor of the District of Columbia released his FY2013 budget today and the impacts of that budget on both school and public libraries will be substantial.  Librarians need to network, advocate, and speak out between now and early May when the DC Council will pass a budget for the coming year. Summarized below are the impacts to school and public libraries from the Mayor's proposed budget.

Please consider sharing this information with your community, your friends, and your elected officials. The residents of the District of Columbia have a very short window to have their voices heard and influence the way our Nation's Capital educates, informs, and supports the intellectual life of our communities.

Richard Huffine, Past-President, District of Columbia Library Association

DC’s School Libraries in Jeopardy

The DC Public Schools budget for FY 2013 eliminates all requirements for schools to have a school librarian and eliminates funding for approximately 50 positions out of 125 schools  [schools with 299 or less students] for School Year 2012-2013.  These schools will not receive budget allocations to fund the school librarian position at any level.  All other librarian positions are optional starting in the fall under new flexible funding. Principals will decide whether or not they fund their school library positions. 

If citizens of the District of Columbia want to do anything, they should advocate with the City Council and the principals of their neighborhood schools. 
 
If schools lose their librarians then students will suffer. These professionals are essential in providing children with the tools they need to learn and develop in an every changing, information rich, and complex world. School libraries provide the touchstone where all disciplines intersect. They are where children not only acquire knowledge but also develop the skills to learn. Libraries connect all children to the world by making what they have learned relevant and the Library Media Specialists provide students with skills that last a lifetime. 
 
To contact  a DC Councilmember, see their contact information below.

Public Library Budget – Some increases but critical issues remain
 
Mayor Gray released his FY2013 budget today.  The good news is that the public library's operating budget increases by $5 million.  The majority of this increase is tied to full year funding for added staff and related costs.  This includes full year staffing for the new libraries set open in the next few months  – Bellevue, Francis Gregory, Mt. Pleasant and Rosedale.  Funding for staff and a limited opening day collection for the new Rosedale Library, a small library located within the new Rosedale Recreation Center, will likely be allocated this year for this library to open this spring.
 
Further good news: no staff reductions for the first time in several years.  No reduction in library hours.  We'll continue to provide six day service at neighborhood libraries and to be open seven days a week at MLK.  
 
There are some challenges we'll face with next year's budget.  Most serious:  no increase in the library's book budget and no increase in funds for staff training.  As you know, both areas were severely cut in the FY2012 budget.  They remain funded at the same level in this proposed budget.
 
Steps You Can Take NOW
·       Share this information with your neighbors, friends, community lists… we need to get the word out!
·       Contact your Ward and At-Large Councilmembers and let them know how important libraries are in our communities.
 
Contacts for DC Council Members
 
Chairman. Kwame Brown
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 504, NW Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8032 | Fax: (202) 724-8156
 
At-Large. David Catania
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 404, Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-7772 | Fax: (202) 724-8087
 
At-Large. Phil Mendelson
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 402, Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8064 | Fax: (202) 724-8099
 
At-Large. Michael A. Brown
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 406, Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8105 | Fax: (202) 724-8071
 
At-Large. Vincent Orange
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 410, Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8174 | Fax: (202) 727-8210
 
Ward 1. Jim Graham
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 105, NW Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8181 | Fax: (202) 724-8109
 
Ward 2. Jack Evans
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 106, NW Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8058 | Fax: (202) 724-8023
 
Ward 3. Mary Cheh
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 108, NW Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8062 | Fax: (202) 724-8118
 
Ward 4. Muriel Bowser
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 110, NW Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8052 | Fax: (202) 741-0908
 
Ward 6. Tommy Wells (Chairs the Committee on Libraries and Recreation)
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 408, NW Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8072 | Fax: (202) 724-8054
 
Ward 7. Yvette Alexander
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 400, NW Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8068 | Fax: (202) 741-0911 
 
Ward 8. Marion Barry
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 102, Washington, DC 20004
Tel: (202) 724-8045 | Fax: (202) 724-8055