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

By Richard
February 25, 2010

Testimony on the FY2009 Performance of the District of Columbia Public Library, February 25th 2010 from:
Joseph Harris, Ward 5 Resident, Treasurer of the Friends of the Woodridge Library, Washington, DC.

Good morning Chairman Thomas and members of the Committee. My name is Joseph Harris, I live in Ward 5 and I represent the Friends of the Woodridge Library, (FWL).

The FWL is an all volunteer non profit organization established to support the Woodridge Branch of the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) and is a member of the Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library.

Today I want to speak about the value of libraries in general and specifically about how the areas of Personnel, Technology, Service Hours and Resources are important to the value of the Woodridge Branch of the DCPL.
Last Summer the local affiliate of NBC news reported that across the country libraries are facing economic difficulties yet still are offering free services.

There is an increased demand for library services from patrons who are:

  • looking for help in finding jobs
  • borrowing movies
  • utilizing public internet access and wireless services

At some libraries the demand for computers can cause waiting for up to an hour.

Some public libraries offer free job counseling seminars and during these difficult economic times libraries are often seen as a growing source of free entertainment. While many public libraries are facing cuts in funding by local governments, record attendance at children’s programs is being seen and in many locations the demand for DVDs and CDs has soared.

Unfortunately there has also been a rise in short tempered angry patrons that at times challenges the library’s code of conduct. In some locations library employees are receiving training in how to defuse explosive situations.

As the recession challenges public libraries to slash budgets, our neighborhood libraries stand to suffer consequences including:

  • More layoffs
  • Information Technology (IT) systems not being kept current
  • Reduced hours, cuts in days of service
  • Buying far fewer books and other materials

From a local point of view these four areas work together to reduce the value of neighborhood libraries like the Woodridge Branch.

  • Cuts in library personnel equate to reduced customer service. Fewer library personnel attending to more library patrons can cause an increase in the number of overworked library employees, an increase in the number of frustrated patrons and an increase in the number of times the local branch is short-handed.
  • Keeping IT systems up to date is important at Woodridge partly because computer training for seniors is a program that recently started and the number of participants turned out to be more than expected.
  • Having no Sunday hours at Woodridge resulted in no chess for children and teens as well as other heavily attended activities.
  • Buying fewer books and materials means fewer resources being made available to the neighborhood served by the Woodridge Branch and others like it.

Because attendance at our libraries continues to grow I believe that increasing funding to address the four areas of Personnel, Technology, Service Hours and Resources will increase the value of the DC Public Library and allow it to meet this growth.

At the end of my remarks to the Board of Library Trustees last July you were given recognition for the work you’ve done for the DC Public Library. I am honored now to do so in person!

On behalf of the Friends of the Woodridge Library I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank you Chairman Thomas for hearing the voices of our communities and helping to ensure that our libraries continue to serve our neighborhoods during these difficult economic times.

Thank You

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