Is there any news with the library branches?
The Middleburg Library Advisory Board has been raising money to double the size of the Middleburg Library, and they’re almost there. They’re coming to [the] board of trustees meeting to say that they have met their fundraising goal and they would like to commence construction. And that’s completely a private grass-roots citizens’ initiative. They are raising all the money needed to double the size of the Middleburg Library, including the design, the construction and the interior fit-out.
The Sterling Library is a little different from the other branches, as an older, smaller branch serving a densely populated area.
What do you see as the future of the Sterling Library?
We definitely have enhanced service in Sterling Library. We have had a new branch manager there for the past six or seven months or so who has really reenergized the staff and also cleaned up the library a lot. We have new carpet; we’ve reconfigured the shelving. We have bought a lot of new furniture for that library, so it looks 10 times better than before, because we realize how important it is to that particular community. And, eventually, I would like to further enhance the service by enlarging the Sterling Library.
It was in the Capital Improvement Plan to have a brand new library [in Sterling], but that plan has been temporarily suspended because the current Board of Supervisors realized that we needed a bigger space, and parks and rec also needs some additional space, and the fire and rescue department also needs some space. So the Board of Supervisors is being very prudent to say, “Why don’t you work together, have a mini-master plan.” And that’s what the capital projects department has been working on. So the medium and long-term goal is to really enhance the service in that area.
As you begin this year’s budget process, has there been any talk about closing branches or shortening hours of operation to save money?
This year, we have not heard anything like that. Since we are supported by taxpayers’ money, we always have to justify our existence . . . to really provide the best return on investment we can for the county.
We did a rough calculation last year, looking at what people check out, how much they would have to pay if they had to buy those books or how much they would pay if they had to pay to rent a meeting room for their community meetings, or how much they would pay to attend a concert or author event. [It] came out that the return on investment would be more than $30 for every one tax dollar. So we are very proud of our contribution to the community, and I think we really deliver great value.