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.

10 Responses to “Study Backs JMRL, Lessons Apparently Not Learned”

  • Elizabeth says:

    Has anyone suggested that the library raise money with a book sale?

  • Maybe they could charge people, as a sort of a penalty, if they return books late?

  • Patience says:

    For a minute, I thought you two were serious. ;)

    They did raise the overdue penalty this summer from ten cents a day to twenty-five. And intra-library loan is no longer free. I think the fee is $3.00, which is reasonable for something as awesome as intra-library loan.

    I get very emotional about public libraries. It’s scary to see that politicians don’t seem to understand that free, public access to books and information is an important component of our free speech rights. Public libraries are not a frill or a luxury, they are a vital part of a civil society.

  • Amelia says:

    This is not just happening in Cville, but all over the country and around the globe apparently. NPR ran a story last night about a similar situation with libraries in Britain and the resulting action of the people…I especially liked the folks in a small town outside of London that checked out all of the books at once to make the point that the community suffered without the books on shelves. Here’s the link if you’re interested:

    As a country, it’s so ridiculous that we cry about the rising and dangerous trends associated with lack of education (health care crisis due to obesity, crime, teen pregnancies etc etc) while continuing to inhibit the FREE places where people stand a chance of getting some of that education. It’s such a shame that we would rather funnel money to reacting to these trends instead of working on preventing them from the ground up through community endorsed education efforts.

  • JMRL Fan says:

    Elizabeth – the Friends of the Library DOES hold (now) two book sales a year which raise over $100,000 a year. These funds go to support Library programs, not the operating budget.

  • GonzoG says:

    It’s nothing more than a political lightening rod for Duane and others to point to curry favor with a particular constituency.
    Some look at anything “public” with a jaundiced eye. Also, since libraries generally won’t kowtow to social conservatives who wish them to limit what materials and information is available, many of that stripe wish to see public libraries starved out of existence.

  • Barbara Myer says:

    One of the ironies I keep stumbling on is the BOS supposition that private enterprise needs government to get out of the way, while JMRL needs government to micromanage it.

  • Elizabeth – the Friends of the Library DOES hold (now) two book sales a year which raise over $100,000 a year. These funds go to support Library programs, not the operating budget.

    Elizabeth was kidding. :)

  • danpri says:

    Maybe if they had a nice big library near the downtown mall. You know, within walking distance of lots of people.

    Pandering, even if too a consituancy, still reflects the initial legal definition: To Pimp.

    Someone be pimping yo!

  • JMRL Fan says:

    > Elizabeth was kidding. :)

    SO was I :)

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