A first heads-up: If you live within driving distance of Williamsburg, consider joining us at the Williamsburg Regional Library on Scotland Street between 10 AM and 2 PM for the Great Checkout Protest. All of us with valid library cards will be filling them with as many books as we can, on the last day our cards will be valid. Our hope is that we’ll demonstrate to the library just what a big part of the system we are.
Check out the permanent protest page here: http://www.welltrainedmind.com/library/
If you’d like a T-shirt to wear to the protest, post a message!
Flyers will shortly be available, reading:
THE GREAT CHECKOUT PROTEST
JANUARY 31, 2011
10 AM TO 2 PM
WILLIAMSBURG REGIONAL LIBRARY
Have a valid WRL library card?
Come help us protest the new WRL policy!
On February 1, the WRL Board of Trustees will deprive six thousand users of the WRL system of their cards. The Board has refused to consider allowing us to pay fees for our cards–and they won’t explain their reasoning.
Between 10 AM and 2 PM on January 31, come and fill your library card with as many books as you can.
If youâ€™re in danger of losing your card, show the library system what a big part of the library we are. And if youâ€™re in Williamsburg, James City, or York County, please come show your support.
Questions? Contact [email protected] for details and protest T-shirts!
SPONSORED BY PEACE HILL PRESS
18021 The Glebe Lane
Charles City, VA 23030
Have you thoroughly checked the conditions they have set regarding the end of services? If you advertise this protest, which you must to get anything out of it, they can take steps to prevent it. A simple database search would reveal all card holders with addresses outside the county. They could simply set a policy that all checkouts from these card holders need to be in by COB, Jan 31.
The last email you received certainly had a warmer tone, but in the end, it’s clear they’ve made a decision they are not inclined to revisit. A public protest (have you contacted local media?) is the way to go, but don’t let it be defined by the check out thing. If they derail that effort, it could derail your protest all together. Protest on righteous indignation alone.
Remember, to win this, ultimately their pain from without (supplied by you and others) must be greater than the pain from within (continuing services, fee-based or otherwise).
Point well taken, Tom. I did think about this–however, it seems clear after conversations with various media folks that there needs to be an actual EVENT in order to keep the media interested. (Just, “Look how unfair this is!” doesn’t cut it). The WRL has publicly posted online and at the library that service will end on February 1. If they suddenly change this date in order to short-circuit the protest, that will in itself be a story; and in that case, we’ll all meet at the library, gather up our books, stand in line, and force the librarians to tell us, one by one, that our cards don’t work, in defiance of the earlier stated deadline. Kind of unfair on the librarians, but there’s absolutely no way to protest to the Board without involving other library staff. Unfortunate.
The library staff will be fine. You’re not throwing rocks or anything.
But, you’re right. Drama equals media. They’ll want to see something, I’m tempted to suggest a sit in – you know, lock arms in front of the doors and all that, but this isn’t something worth getting arrested over.
Do you have a feel for how many local supporters you have?
I will certainly be there! This is has made our whole family very upset, I’ve thought about bringing my children in to get someone to try to explain this policy to them but figured it wouldn’t be fair to the poor librarian when I know this policy is from the board.
As a substitute for my own local(very small) library, in the surrounding area, I know we have quite a few Williamsburg patrons who have summer homes here. All our system asks for is a valid i.d. and proof of address (does not need to be local!) Wishing good luck to us all and hoping for a respectable turnout.
TominVA: you say “the staff will be fine, we’re not throwing rocks”… but the staff you see on the front lines is not the staff that made this decision. That was made by the board and by administrative personnel. Any chaos will have to be handled by people who had no say in this (and may not be thrilled about themselves). Don’t blame a waitress for bad food, she didn’t cook it.
Susan: You say there’s no other way to protest the board… aren’t they having a meeting on the 26th?
Yes, and we will be there, but there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to speak (or even attend the entire meeting).
FundyGardner, I’m not blaming the staff. I know they didn’t make this decision and yet will be taking some heat on the front lines. I don’t mean to be callous, but I see where I might have come off that way.
My point was, that while the staff my end up having a very hectic day as a result of the protest, I don’t think that should prevent anyone from taking action in this direction. Susan has taken all reasonable steps and is coming up against a stone wall. My bet is the appearance at the board meeting will result in more of the same. So she and hopefully many other concerned citizens will have to take other actions to overcome the bureaucratic inertia.
It may be a tough day for the library staff, but who’s really at fault here? Not the citizens. Is access to a public library asking so much?
I applaud your efforts to get a “real: answer from Mr. Moorman and/or the board. However, I don’t think such a response will be forthcoming.
Here’s my take: I think the board wishes to be seen as being above politics. And thus, will not admit that the decision they made is based on the politics of the York County Board of Supervisors. It is well known that certain York County supervisors oppose continuing their county’s funding. contribution to WRL.
The Library Director and Board have made a pre-emptive move. By not offering the option of a paid, non-resident card to those not residing in James City and Williamsburg, they are sending a message to the York county Board of Supervisors that if the York County contribution is discontinued in the future, residents of upper York County will not have WRL borrowing privileges under any circumstance. They are betting that this will deter the York county supervisors from cutting the WRL funding out of future York county budgets.
The WRL board’s move may also indicate that they don’t have a viable strategy for dealing with the possibility of losing York county funding. After all, there are risks: the supervisors who oppose continued funding may prevail in future budgets, the upper York County branch at the Marquis may somehow get revived and would put pressure on supervisors to discontinue funding WRL. I believe they have made a strictly tactical move that will buy them some time, Maybe that’s their intent, but I don’t see any evidence in the board’s meeting minutes that they are involved in any long term planning in a reduced funding environment.
So where does this leave non-residents? I hate to say it, but I think they are just pawns and collateral damage in this game.
Here is the nub of the problem: http://articles.dailypress.com/2010-03-03/news/dp-local_yorkbos_0304mar04_1_supervisor-tom-shepperd-supervisor-sheila-noll-mrs-noll
Some additional info. the York County contribution to WRL is approx. $450k/yr. The funding is in recognition that Upper York County (Election District 1) residents use WRL because the two York County libraries are much further away. According to the 2000 census, Election District 1 population was just under 12000. Granted not all Upper County residents are WRL patrons, but that’s an expenditure of $37 per capita. If you knew the actual number of patrons you’d get a better per person cost. WRL staff could probably provide that if asked, or if they were disinclined to share a FOIA request might get it.
Info MUCH appreciated. Am following up on this now–
BillBurgher’s got it essentially right. But it’s not that the board is trying to be “above politics,” it’s that they are trying to be supportive of the York BoS members and county staff who see support for WRL as being more economic sense than something like building a Marquis-type library in York.
The issue of why they won’t offer pay for service cards is very simple – and one I’ve posted here and elsewhere. If you offer it to Charles City and Gloucester and New Kent, etc. it gives York an “out.”
“So what?” you say? Once they pull out of the system the $400K won’t be made up by paid cards. The per capita cost would be too high. That difference has to be made up somewhere. It’ll come in staff layoffs and service reductions. So even more people would be hurt and a lot of the quality you now enjoy – and can continue to enjoy as a user of the collections, programs and staff expertise in house – will be irretrievably lost.
Sorry to say, but those are the facts. And if the board and staff could talk more openly without outside political fallout occurring, that’s what they’d say.
From publicly available documents, here are some numbers:
Library budget: $5.7 million
Per capita cost: $103