Study Backs JMRL, Lessons Apparently Not Learned

Remember last year’s showdown between the Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors? The BoS cut JMRL’s funding, so JMRL’s Board of Trustees announced they’d have to close the Scottsville and Crozet branches. The BoS then insisted that JMRL maintain their existing locations and services…but with less money. Duane Snow threatened to eliminate all funding to the library if they didn’t manage that feat, while providing suggestions that JMRL try things that they’d been doing for years, like “use volunteers” and “cut back your hours.” Lindsay Dorrier entered the fray by claiming—wrongly—that JMRL simply wasn’t allowed to shut down the Scottsville branch. Eventually, the BoS caved and funded fully the library at the existing, anemic levels.

Backstory established, here’s the update. The dubious BoS commissioned an $8,000 independent study of the library, thinking that they could leave the multi-jurisdictional JMRL and run an Albemarle-only library. The study confirms everything that JMRL has been saying for years: that JMRL “provides an efficient and effective library system overall when compared to other localities, despite having one of the lowest per capita funding levels and the lowest number of staff per capita.” Also, it would be totally infeasible for Albemarle to break off from JRML, for a host of simple, practical reasons that are perfectly clear to anybody who takes a few minutes to think about it. Brandon Shulleeta explains all of this in the Progress, and for Charlottesville Tomorrow, Sean Tubbs does likewise, along with a report from the joint meeting between the BoS and the JMRL board, the first such meeting in two decades.

At the meeting, I see, Duane Snow was still insisting that the BoS should be able to micromanage JMRL, despite that they appoint a trio of representatives to the JMRL board to do exactly that. As with last year, Snow is still making suggestions that the library do things that they already do, and have done for years: altering hours, closing in the evenings, and shutting down on some days. This is exactly why the library has a board—they’re in charge of figuring out these things, so that Snow and company can focus on the big issues of running the county. Apparently Snow hasn’t learned that lesson yet. Here’s hoping that his fellow board members have.

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