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Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper sent this e-mail to staffers last week explaining in detail the planned cutbacks in hours and services at the D.C. Public Library:

Date: July 24, 2008 To: All Staff From: Ginnie Cooper, Chief Librarian RE: Potential Impact of Adopted FY’09 Budget

NOTE: The attached memo will also be available on the DCPL Intranet

In keeping with our policy of being open with staff about potential steps that may be taken in order to assure that we continue in our mission of proving quality library service to library users in the best possible work environment for staff………….

POTENTIAL IMPACT OF ADOPTED FY ’09 BUDGET

The ’09 library budget adopted in June by the City Council includes a reduction of 74 positions available to the Library in FY ’08. This is a result of two actions:

* In January, the Mayor’s proposed budget eliminated all positions in the District that were vacant at that point in time. About 550 positions were eliminated; 71 were library positions. Three additional positions were also eliminated in the budget process.

* In June because of concerns over new revenue projections, the City Council eliminated the “bank of positions” that the Mayor’s Budget included to allow for opportunity to add back many of the vacant positions that had been eliminated.

There was no specific intent to reduce the Library’s budget or library services. None the less, this reduction of 14% of the positions assigned to the Library was included in the final budget. As of this point, additional revenue has not been identified to allow return of these positions. We are planning for the potential that these positions will be eliminated from the library for the coming fiscal year.

No library staff will lose their jobs as a result of the elimination of these positions. We have held more than enough vacancies to accommodate these reductions. In fact, some of the existing vacancies will be filled this fiscal year.

The reduction of FTEs will be taken proportionally throughout the Library. Because 71% of the library staff work to provide public service, reductions in open hours are necessary at neighborhood libraries (including interim libraries) and at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

We also anticipate closing the five kiosk libraries (formerly known as “community libraries”). These buildings, open only week days, were established as temporary service points in the early 70s. Use is very low (the busiest kiosk circulates less than 25% of the least busy neighborhood library) and the buildings are inefficient and expensive to heat and cool. And the buildings are worn out- metal is corroding, Plexiglas windows regularly break and more.

HOW WERE THE PROPOSED NEW HOURS DETERMINED?

In conversation with Library Staff, we set the following goals:

1. Maintain library service on weekday afternoons when students need the resources and assistance with school work.

2. Maintain library service on week ends when families can visit the library.

3. Maintain evening hours at neighborhood libraries.

4. Maintain evening hours at MLK.

5. Match hours open to library use as much as possible.

6. Consistent library hours will help save money and be easier for members of the public to understand and remember.

As of now, this is the plan:

* All libraries will be CLOSED on FRIDAYs.

* All libraries will be OPEN Sunday afternoon from 1 to 5 during the school year.

* All libraries will be OPEN on Saturday from 10 to 6.

* Neighborhood libraries will be open two evenings per week (same as now). On these days, libraries will open at 12 and close at 8 (single shift staffing).

* MLK will be OPEN Monday and Wednesday from 10 to 8; Tuesday and Thursday from 10 to 6.

Neighborhood libraries lose 15 hours per week; MLK loses 16 hours per week. These new hours may go into effect as early as October.

Questions and Answers

1. Did the City Council allocate less money for ’09 than we have in ’08?

No. In FY ’08, $45 million in local funds were appropriated to DCPL. For FY ’09, $16,000 more were appropriated. This amount had to accommodate a number of cost increases.

2. Why is staff just learning about this now?

Until about a week ago, we anticipated that additional funding would be made available to the library. This still might happen.

3. Why were there so many vacant positions in January?

Employees who left the library because of the retirement incentives and other personnel actions left by January 1. In addition, other vacancies had been held open until we knew how many would choose the voluntary option of retiring.

4. How are we able to be open the CURRENT hours if there are so many vacant positions?

By the use of overtime. Thanks to many of you for being willing to work these additional hours.

5. Will this change affect my work schedule?

Yes – this change may affect your work schedule. Your work location may also be affected.

6. How can we increase the number of TEENS employed at the library if we do not have money?

Increasing to 100 the number of teens we employ was specifically funded and is included in the library’s budget.

7. How about library administrative office? Will they also be closed on Friday?

No. The rest of City government, vendors and many who will contact administrative office will expect offices to be open the traditional business week.

8. How can this budget impact be avoided?

We can avert this by having the 71 positions restored or being allocated $2.05 million

More questions? There is a lot we don’t know, but please ask. We’ll tell you what we know… email me at

Questionsforginnie@dc.gov