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Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes for Library Bonds

As voters weigh $25 million in bonds for library renovations on Nov. 6 ballots, two residents say there is "payback to all residents when these libraries are renovated."

To the Editor:

There are a lot of choices we will make on November 6th, but there is one that will improve the quality of life for all Fairfax residents, and it is not subject to competing politicians or last minute veto.

The authorization to issue $25 million of bonds to improve three public libraries and relocate one will result in changes that we can see, feel and enjoy. The John Marshall Community Library and Pohick and Tysons-Pimmitt Regional libraries will be renovated and brought up to current standards for modern libraries by upgrading building systems, computer access, and energy efficiency. In addition, quiet and group study areas will be added along with conference space. Improvements to building systems will save on energy costs, and enhancements to study areas and conference space will benefit everyone from students to researchers to anyone who wants to learn something new. In addition to upgrading these three libraries, $10 million of the bond issue will be dedicated to relocating the Reston Regional Library. The current Reston Library building, located just north of Reston Town Center, is in an area slated for redevelopment, and bond funds will be used for site studies, design and construction once a new site is identified.

Residents of Fairfax County need look no further than the Martha Washington Library in the Alexandria section of the county or the Richard Byrd Library in Springfield to see concrete results from past bond issues. The renovations to these facilities dramatically changed the library experience by offering a brighter, more functional building to better meet the needs of library users. In addition, they are LEED certified, a peer-reviewed process to validate a decrease in construction costs while reducing negative environmental impacts and improving the health and well-being of library employees and users.

The value of our 22 libraries is reflected in the nearly 6 million visits made last year. And our libraries do much more than check out books or DVDs. They are used for everything from club and community meetings to education. Stop by any of our libraries after school and see how many children are reading, receiving homework help, or being tutored by one of hundreds of volunteers. Many of our libraries are literally bursting at the seams and the improvements the bond issue will provide will greatly lower the strain.

Fairfax County enjoys a triple-A rating from both Moody's and Standard and Poor which translates into lower interest costs for bonds and a savings to taxpayers. The triple-A rating also reflects the judicious use of borrowing by the county and a prudent financial management policy designed to protect the triple-A rating. And there is payback to all residents when these libraries are renovated: when they enter a brighter and more functional building which meets their needs, whether to check out a book, hold a meeting or do some research.

 

Sincerely,

Chris and Rich Peterson
Members of the Friends of the Richard Byrd Library
Residents of Fairfax County

Barry Meuse October 26, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I guess I'd need to see some data on how many books get checked out by how many people from Fairfax County libraries and why part of the argument for the $25MM Bond is 'meeting space' for community groups and clubs before I could urge people to vote for the library bond. Not an essential government function to provide space for 'community groups and clubs' at tax-payer expense.
Walter Hadlock October 26, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I have not seen any good reason, or reasons, why the Reston Regional Library should be moved from its current location. It has an easily accessible location, sufficient parking, and would be an asset to the area. As Reston Town Center is redeveloped, the library's current location would be a nice patch of green (depending on just how large the county owned parcel of land on which the current facility is located) in amongst the buildings that could be in the surrounding area. As an aside, I don't consider the library's current location as being "near" the proposed Metro stop. Also, there is the issue not discussed in public (privately perhaps?) of what becomes of the Embry Rucker Shelter for the homeless that is next door to the library.
Kate October 26, 2012 at 05:31 PM
It is absolutely reprehensible for the County to even have this on the table. Our County is mess and the spending is out of control. Take a look at the FY2013 budget: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/fy2013/adopted/overview/10_budget_summary_new.pdf They need to clean up their own house, cut services to illegals, slash the bloated school budget, and focus on the principle services they should be providing, such as repairing the crumbling stormwater system. They shouldn't be borrowing money for this type of project. Libraries should not even be on the radar....
Virginia Colin October 26, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Alas, looking no further than Richard Byrd library does not reassure me about the wisdom of borrowing money to improve our libraries. The old building was fine but was demolished and replaced with an expensive, more modern building. Borrowing money to tear down a good house to build a better one would not be a sensible thing for a homeowner to do. It was not sensible for a library either. Maybe we "needed" to upgrade the wiring to handle more internet use. We did not need to tear the building down.
Mike N October 29, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Fairfax County should be slashing spending and taxes, not borrowing more money. The libraries are already wasting loads of money providing non-library functions. They should be limited to providing access to printed and audio books . . . period. DITCH the internet access and meeting rooms and use the room for books. AND STRICTLY ENFORCE SILENCE RULES. That means NO TALKING! That includes prohibiting people from sitting at the tables and providing verbal teaching/instruction at the expense of those trying to read and study.
Virginia Colin October 29, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Hi Mike N, Internet access is necessary for most middle and high school students and others doing research. Some families do not have internet access at home. For public libraries to provide it seems entirely right to me. I think the meeting rooms are also of value to many members of the Fairfax County community. I agree that most areas in a library should be quiet.
novaguy1968 October 30, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Perhaps you could identify the specific areas of the school budget that you think are "bloated." This sounds like typical from-the-hip speaking about something which you likely know very little.
novaguy1968 October 30, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Please be more specific about the "non-library functions."
John G October 31, 2012 at 02:36 PM
The Reston Library has become a gathering space for the homeless overflow from the adjacent Embry Rucker shelter. Groups loiter out front, asking people for money, use the restrooms as washing facilites. Is this what makes sense for us to have our children exposed to when they are trying to use the library facilities? Anything that relocates the shelter away from the library , the day care center next to it, and the Sunrise Assisted Living center is a plus
Jon Doe November 01, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Oh no! The homeless! Quick, cover your kids eyes so they don't have to see the real world. While, I don't believe anyone should solicit money in front of the library, I don't know where you would want folks to wash other than a restroom. The shelter is open (during the warmer months) four times a week for washing. For two hours each day. You've got seventy men trying to use two sinks and three showers. It's a nightmare. A little understanding and caring go a long way. I pray you never have to utilize the shelter, but maybe a volunteering shift would do you good(disclaimer: written by a guy who was in Rucker last winter. I was grateful to have the library as a warm place to sit on my days off. I've since, with the help of some wonderful people, been able to find a home.)
Annandalean November 02, 2012 at 01:27 AM
About the money: In states where studies have been conducted, the mean return on investment for libraries is $4.43 for every $1.00 spent. About the Internet: Not everyone has home access. According to the Washington Post on 10/20, the number of homeless students in FCPS will top 2,500 this year. They need the computers to do basic homework. Many people use the computers to find and apply for jobs.
Josh November 06, 2012 at 12:39 AM
A child seeing grown men wash in a restroom is ridiculous. Of course, John Doe, you must realize that a shower is a place to wash your body and a restroom is a place to wash your hands, right? I would have more understanding if they didn't ask the children for money while their parents are right next to them. (look me in my eye, not my eight year old)

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