Report on Council Visits re Extending Hours

During our visits to City Council members and staff on Wednesday we were disappointed to learn that all but one did not recall seeing the Library Trustees full request for funding, as had been presented to the public at Trustees’ meetings and to the Federation of Friends of the Library — so many of whom turned out for the oversight and budget hearings in support of the full request.

In addition, the Council Budget Director also had not seen it and was as dismayed as we were that she was seeing it for the first time at this late hour. It seems clear that council members voting on the Library budget were not aware of the public’s top priority – being open.

The bulk of the $10M request for increase over last year is for restoring hours to branches and to MLK. You can see the breakdown on the DCPL  website.

We emphasized to Council members that the Library is an incomparable value and that the first priority of library users is that the facilities be open.

We urge library advocates to take moment to send a note to your representatives before the second reading of the budget on Tuesday. You can see a sample letter here to edit or send as is, and you can choose your recipients.

Call to Action for Wednesday May 30

Dear Library Supporters,

Last week many of you wrote to our officials about your support for increasing library hours in 2013.  Thank you.

On Wednesday night at the Board of Library Trustees meeting, we learned that they read your letters — because the Trustees quoted from them — but, alas, we have not yet achieved our goal of increased operating hours.

No Increase to Operating Hours
We are sorry to report that although increases were authorized to the book budget, security, and librarian training opportunities, as well as the support for four new branches that will come on line in 2012 (Bellevue, Francis Gregory, Mt. Pleasant, and Christian/Langston at Rosedale) the total funding does not even equal the 2008 levels the Trustees had requested.

The Trustees’ request for funding broke out hours as you can see on their “fan chart”. We cannot understand why the Mayor and City Council chose not to increase any of them – Sundays, weekday mornings, weekday evenings. For just $1.5 million, for example, we could have Sundays at all 24 neighborhood libraries.

The District is Thriving
There’s ample evidence that the District is doing much better than most
jurisdictions in the country. We must insist that our splendid new  facilities — which came at the cost of $180 million in bonds — be open maximum hours in order for District residents to get our return on investment.  Award-winning libraries garner kudos for Mayors, Councilpersons, Trustees, and Architects whether they are open or not. However, when they are closed, they cheat their public underwriters — we taxpayers and library users.

We Insist On Libraries Being Open More Hours
The second reading of the budget will take place on Tuesday June 5, 2012. There is still time to let officials know your priorities and to insist on the restoration of at least some of these hours at some locations.

On Wednesday May 30, join the DC Library Renaissance Project and District Dynamos at the John A. Wilson building to visit our elected officials
who will be gathered for the 40th Anniversary of Home Rule Celebration
and insist on Sunday hours in our neighborhoods. Out of an $11 billion budget, we know the Council and Mayor can find $1.5 million dollars for Sunday hours, at least.

WHAT:  Visit the Council and Mayor to Insist on Sunday Hours
WHEN:  Wednesday, May 30, 9:00 AM
WHERE: Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW; Meet in the front
RSVP: Robin Diener, [email protected], 202-431-9254