FY 2009 Performance Hearing – Susan Haight (Federation/West End)

By Richard
February 25, 2010

Testimony on the FY2009 Performance of the District of Columbia Public Library
February 25, 2010

Susan B. Haight

Ward 2 Resident
President of the Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library
President of the West End Library Friends, Washington, DC.

Chairman Thomas and members of the Committee:

I thank you for your time and the opportunity to testify. Your role in allocating funds and providing oversight for the operations of the District of Columbia Public Library System is an important one and the members of the Federation of Friends and individual Friends groups applaud your efforts.

I have been a resident of the District for ten years, and an advocate for the District libraries for almost that long. My background is business. In my career, I have overseen multi-million dollar budgets, and I understand the need for a decent ROI when investing, as well as the need to economize when the money is just not there.

I believe the Chief Librarian and the library staffs have done a good job in adjusting to budget cuts over the past few years. They have reduced hours, cut back programming and eliminated waste wherever possible. However, I believe that we are fast approaching the tipping point. Any further cuts in funding will jeopardize the services our communities so desperately need which only the library can provide.

Reduced evening hours, have forced neighborhood organizations to scrambling to find other locations for their evening meetings, and children, teens, and entire families have been denied a place to gather and thrive because the branches are no longer open on Sunday.

Bare bone funding has reduced the number of copies of books available, resulting in a longer wait time for materials. This same lack of funding will soon jeopardize DCPL’s ability to maintain the great strides made in providing public access computers. The computers provided in the West End Library are used all the time. But soon lack of funding will result in longer maintenance rotations and subsequently reduce computer use.

In summary, my request is that as you review the libraries performance for 2009, you consider how desperately the communities need full service libraries for 2010, 2011 and beyond.

Thank you for your time.

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