The most recent round of non-informative responses from library folk (see below): The Williamsburg Regional Library won’t offer cards in return for a fee “in order to maintain funding from current governmental agencies.”

Does anyone have ANY idea what this means?

Also, a number of you (including locals) have expressed outrage. Express it to the Board of Trustees. The following information is public, located here on the WRL website.



Susan S. Geary, Chair
City of Williamsburg, 06/30/13
[email protected]

Jean Van Tol, Vice-Chair
James City County, 07/31/14
[email protected]

Sarah Houghland, Secretary
City of Williamsburg, 06/30/11
[email protected]

Lynda Byrd-Poller
James City County, 06/30/12
[email protected]

Suzanne R. Mellen
James City County, 06/30/11
[email protected]

Mary H. Norment
James City County, 07/31/14
[email protected]

Vickie Herrick
City of Williamsburg, 06/30/14
[email protected]
Bill Porter
James City County, 06/30/13
[email protected]

J. H. Willis, Jr.
City of Williamsburg, 06/30/12
[email protected]

Showing 14 comments
  • David Reed

    I can’t answer with certainty but suspect it has to do with the budget allocation agreement with the city and the county.

    The library is reducing costs (staff) and the FY 11 budget calls for the city to pay 15.46% of their costs and the county 84.54% based on the circulation ratio between city and county residents.

    My suspicion is the agreement with the city and county doesn’t include the ability to reduce their contributions based on “paid” membership and the city and county no longer want to support non-residents.

    As an aside, if they did offer cards they would have to be relatively expensive… Looking at the budget/card holder ratio it looks like every library card costs $108. (53,799 card holders [source: with a FY11 budget of $5,813,163 [source: However, the actual cost per card holder will go up after Feb since the number of card holders will decline. They may have decided too few people would spend $100+ for a card to make it worth putting processes in place to support it.

  • Heather Q.

    Do you think it would be helpful for non-residents to express outrage? I’d be happy to be outraged on behalf of Charles City County and try to alleviate their collective ignorance by sending them this link: .

  • Susan

    Heather: it wouldn’t hurt!

  • Susan

    David: this is both helpful and enlightening. Thanks. I have actually contacted the Board of Trustees and asked them to spell out their reasoning. So far everyone’s been very secretive and close-mouthed, which (no matter the circumstances) is absolutely the wrong approach.

  • Amanda Read

    Crazy! It sounds like they’re trying to avoid earning money as a business so they can remain dependent on the government. A welfare library? Nonsensical!

    ~ Amanda

  • Heather Q.

    Nevermind the previous message. I sent the email to all board members. Hope it helps. I would have to consider moving if that happened here.

  • Tom

    David nails it, I think. To take it one step further, any effort by the city to offset cost via a fee could serve as ammunition for other cash-strapped departments to move the library’s piece of the budget in other directions. As David suggests, the library risks having too few people sign up to compensate for the loss in budget – a bird in the hand and so on

    It would still be interesting to know how much money they are actually saving by excluding neighboring communities.

  • Tom

    Another thought, and I hate to say it: local governments are struggling just to find money for truly essential services, and…well…this just the library.

    “BLASPHEMER!” I know, sorry.

  • Andi

    Working at a public library and attending library board meetings for several years now, I would suggest a couple of methods for getting your voice heard (do them all!):

    *Talk with the library director.

    *Attend a library board meeting. And bring friends. This makes an incredible difference for showing your concern about the issue.

    *Contact the James City County Board of Supervisors and the Williamsburg City Council. Attend their meetings – there is always a “Public Comment” item on the agenda. Get on the record.

    If you can’t find the date/time/location for any of the meetings, ask the library director, or the library secretary. If they don’t know, contact City Hall and the County administrative office. According to Board of Trustees’ bylaws,

    “All meetings are open to the public, and the media notified of the time and place of each meeting.”

    FWIW, at our library non-residents pay $95/year for a library card, which is the average that residents pay for library services through local taxes.

  • monica

    this could be happening to any one of us, so your fight is our fight, Susan. thanks for posting this list.

    monica in nj

  • Andi

    I just spoke with my library director, and he had some suggestions:

    -Are you a resident of the county? If so, then presumably your taxes (or 85% of them) are paying for library services. Talk with your County manager/commissioner about this (taxation without representation?).

    -Does your library accept late fees or donations? If so, how is this different from library card fees? Questions to ask the library director.

    -Contact the City Clerk about board meetings, dates, minutes if you can’t get information from the library director or board chair.

    -Contact the State Librarian and see what they have to say about the situation. It’s their job to know what is going on at the libraries in the state.

    -Contact the Virginia Library Association and see what they have to say about the situation.

    -Ask the City or County for a copy of the Intergovernmental Agreement regarding the library. If there is one.

    -Look for news articles, and ask a local reporter what they know.

    Basically, find out how the library budget works, how the board works (how they create/implement policy), and how to change policy.

  • unixchick

    Thanks for posting this… our library decided to cut hours… it is now closed two days a week, and very limited hours the rest of the week. My library got a bigger percentage cut than other city departments for some unknown reason. I am sorry this is happening elsewhere… it is very shortsighted.

  • David Macaulay

    Have you contacted the Daily Press, Susan – I can refer this issue to my colleague who covers your area if you so wish.
    best David

  • Leah

    @Amanda: if they aren’t government funded and aren’t lucky enough to a generous (private) donor to fund them, libraries will essentially become bookstores. Only those with money will be able to take out books. I hope to see libraries remain open to all, not just those who can afford to buy in.

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