FY2009 Performance of the District of Columbia Public Library, Georgetown Friends

By Richard
February 25, 2010

Testimony on the FY2009 Performance of the District of Columbia Public Library, February 25th 2010 from Patricia Goldman and Bradford Gray, Ward 2 Residents and Board Members of the Friends of the Georgetown Library

Chairman Thomas and members of the Committee, we are pleased to speak today on behalf of the Friends of the Georgetown Library.

The library has been functioning very successfully and has been very busy in its temporary quarters on M Street. Even so, we are eagerly looking forward to the opening in October of our original library on R Street, which is being beautifully restored after the devastating fire of 2007. We appreciate the planning and commitment that has made this possible.

We do have serious concerns about the consequences of the budgetary situation and the possibility of further budget cuts. Staffing is a major concern. There is a hiring freeze and even though the staff works very hard, they have had cancel some programs, outreach opportunities and other community partnerships. The branch now has only 5 full time staff members, 1 part time person, 2 teen workers and half of the librarian, Tracy Sumler, who splits her time with Tenley. There is a major concern about what will happen with the original library re-opens. That building is, of course, much larger than the M Street storefront and will involve a much wider array of services. I know the librarian is concerned about how it will be staffed. It seems unlikely that there is surplus staff at other branches that can be shifted.

Further budget reductions will also likely mean a reduction in the hours the library is open, reducing service to the community. The library is now open 6 days a week and at least 8 hours a day. Access to the library services will suffer if hours are reduced to fewer hours per day or even one less day per week. We hope that that can be avoided.

Another concern is information technology, which has become an essential part of the modern library. In Georgetown, all of the staff and public computers are old and break down constantly. There is not budget now with which to replace them. We hope that there will be new computers and laptops as has been planned for the reopening of the historical library. But at this point, the library is evening rationing printing paper for the staff and general printers. The general supply budget has also been cut.

2010 is a very exciting year for the Georgetown branch as the rehabilitation of our historical building nears completion. But a library is not just a building but is a vital set of resources that benefit the entire community.

In a troubled economy when the library is a major resource for job seekers it will benefit the city economy to help these people though the library services.

We urge the City Council to do everything in its power to assure the continued vitality of our library system, not just in Georgetown but across the whole city.

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