Torn pages: Scottsville, Crozet libraries could close

news-libraryLibrary trustee Timothy Tolson and director John Halliday listen to grim words from Anthony Townsend.

Not only is Crozet not getting the mammoth new library it was expecting, a possible ten percent budget cut might mean closure of the library it already enjoys, and Scottsville could lose its library with just a five percent cut. This is according to Anthony Townsend, president of the board of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library.

"If what Albemarle County staff is considering comes to pass," said Townsend at a January 19 press conference, "closures and services will occur as early as this summer."

Such dire words are not a message that is appreciated by Duane Snow. The Republican budget hawk–- elected to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors on a zero-based budget platform–- points out that County Administrator Robert Tucker has asked all departments to consider such cuts.

"Nothing has been decided yet," says Snow. "We're just going through a process to get information together."

According to speakers at the press conference, who included Library director John Halliday, there's no way to cut budgets without killing libraries.

"We can't cut half our heat or air-conditioning," said Halliday.

In response to a reporter's question, Halliday said that salaries for full-time library staff range from about $20,000 annually to about $40,000 annually. "We're having trouble recruiting," noted board member Timothy F. Jost Tolson.

In his prepared remarks, Board President Townsend noted that Albemarle already falls below the state average of $35.25 by spending just $33.74 per capita on libraries and urged the public to speak out about the issue–- before libraries start closing.

Still, Supervisor Snow worries that politics might already be leapfrogging ahead of process in the effort to trim an approximately $6 million deficit that was revealed the day after his election.

Snow, who wonders whether the library board would ever consider making extensive use of volunteers, says he recently took a phone call from a parent upset when her son came home from school saying there wasn't enough money for paper. It turned out the school division still had a budget surplus.

Of Tuesday's press conference (to which he wasn't invited), Snow says, "You don't know how much is to pressure public opinion and how much is facts."

The library president noted that public and media are always invited to the board's meetings, the next one of which occurs at 1pm on Monday, January 25.

"Five percent really does mean closing a branch," said Townsend.


The only duping I see are the poor folks who believe there is still, so much fat in the county budget. You can't keep the same services you have right now for 10% less and stopped trying to make us believe that you can. The library board is not threatening all or nothing, they are responding to the request from the new BOS, and its not a scare tactic. And I don't see a single business offering to help, and they won't unless we give them a tax subsidy in exchange for the free advertising. So your solution: No heat, no books and closed doors. Poor Ben Franklin is rotating in his grave.

I love the history of Scottsville and I can just imagine what it was like to see the barges with the people going down the James River. Scottsville has so much history to it. I visit there when I go to my brother's in Stanardsville.. I also think this town that represents small town America should be preserved. That includes the man run ferry across the James river and that goes with out speaking the Library.

Libraries are not "unessasary" especially if the governemtnet were to do its job and expect people on welfare to use them to better themselves and get off the public dole. I have an idea.. why not suspend spending money on flowers outside all the government buildings, why not suspend purchases for artwork and remodeling of offices. In Albemarle and Charlottesville they are spending 4.6 millon on 6 libraies.. thats 750k per library and the buildings are already paid for. They have no rent or tax bill.. they are probaly self insured through the county. ...seems like 750k is enough to pay employees, keep the utilities on and add a few books...

THe library system doesn't waste money. The GOVERNMENT wastes money... building is down by 75% but did they lay off a single inspector?

"I don't see a single business offering to help" -You're kidding, aren't you. As a business owner I don't remember the last time I got a raise - if there is a shortfall it comes out of my pocket and yet all of my expenses go up every year. Every time you turn around there are more government employees at all levels - all with pensions, health benefits, paid vacations and many holidays that I have to work. And they have the gall to tell us they are unable to find 5 or 10 % waste in their operation.
When I had a part time job available I received 42 applications in four hours after listing on Craig's List - two thirds of the applicants had college degrees. I frankly do not believe the library when they say they have difficulty finding people to work. I know three people with Master's degrees in Library Science that have been trying to get a job there during the last five years.
This is, I know, kind of a rant, but I am sick and tired of government agencies scaring the public with this kind of talk. If the director is unable to manage the system in these difficult economic times, let's get a new one.


re:"This is getting old. There is lots of fat. If the average household is living within their means then the county can too. "

This is EXACTLY what the county is doing by closing the library.

Households are going without by cutting the "fat". The people will go without gov't services that are unnecessary.

What exactly is the controversy?

Perhaps your problem is that you LIKE libraries? Too bad. You have to pay for them. Nothing in life is free. It's time for your kind, who wants to cut taxes, cut gov't, cut cut cut, and then doesn't understand why they can't go to the library wherever and whenever they want, to grow up.

I think it's outrageous to close the Crozet library. . . the BOS should read the comments on this article. People have suggested some very good alternatives to just shutting down a large piece of what IS Crozet. This makes me quite angry.

Want to raise some money? Put a casino in Scottsville. Better roads vs. a new library is a no brainer. Keep up the good work Mr. Snow! We need to find a similar candidate to replace Mallek next election.

To Ron Crozet: I am sure the Politicians were happy to see that you have been properly duped. This is why they propose these threats, to get you to cough up more money. They are threatening all or nothing. Its Bull puckey. They can simply close the library one day a week to reduce expenses. They can put off buying new books for awhile. They can ask for internet use to be subsidized by businesses in exchange for the screen savers to be reasonable advertising. They can start a book rotating program for the smaller librairies instead of buying multiple copies. Anyone who cannot find 5% should be EMBARRASSSED to tell the press and just quietly turn in their resignation so we can find someone who can. This county gets plenty of money. Maybe the best thing they could do is lay off EVERYBODY and let them all reapply for their jobs and compete with the unemployed at 20% less.

This is getting old. There is lots of fat. If the average household is living within their means then the county can too.

And the librairies can adjust their thermostats. I would imagine their heating/a/c bills are quite large.

We can not have a static tax rate when revenues from the state to local governments are in steep decline, without serious damage to our community. This includes funding for libraries, police, emergency services, social services and the public schools.

HOWEVER, it is also true that ACPS have used the tactic of strategic unnecessary cuts to get attention from the public in support of the school budget (no money for toilet paper a couple of years ago, etc). This is not the time for such nonsense- such strategies breed cynicism and distrust at a time when the truth should be more than enough to get the public's attention.

To add a note: a simple solution to budget problems is a modest raise of the property tax with a couple cents, which is for most people really no big deal. For sure, the consequences of slashing services -such as libraries where people meet, use computers etc, and school budgets are far more damaging down the road. What is it with those people that worship the altar of tax cuts as remedies of all economic woes, some irrational belief that is not based on any fact whatsoever. Time to scrap Albemarle County of the list of great places to live.

Close one of the MULTIPLE libraries in and around Charlottesville, NOT a branch in the outlying areas! -- And if the county is dead set on making Crozet a growth area, then keep the institutions in place which will support that growth.

with the internet growing more and more all the time, I expect to see more libairies closeing. Theres a growing lack of need for them. My sister said she never used the library the entire 4 years of college.

The library is the heart of Scottsville. It is ALWAYS busy there and supports all socio-economic levels in the area. It would be truly tragic for the library to be closed. I hope the board of supervisors gets creative. It may not be very democratic, but the Scottsville library supports a lot of patrons who are not residents of Albemarle county. Could we ask for support from neighboring counties, or ask non-resident patrons to pay a small annual fee?

Dave, My statement about not seeing businesses offering to help was in refence to the post by "No Sypathy for the Devil" who suggested getting businesses to subsidize the libraries. It was supposed to be sarcasm. I agree with you that businesses are not in a financial position to pick up the shortfalls of the local government budget. I disagree with you that the answer to the proposal is to fire the director. The director appears to be managing the system according to the criteria set by the BOS. If you have less money, you offer less services. You assume there is waste, and you appear to assume that the people employed by the county are 1) lazy and/or 2) greedy because they want the same benefits as employees in the private sector. Sorry you haven't gotten a raise. Neither have I, and I still want public libraries.

Does anybody know what is 5% or 10% of the county's previous allocation? $50,000, $4M? Why not find out and then let the county know that you are will to pay more for the current library services AND THEN WRITE A CHECK. There is absolutely nothing preventing you from making a gift to the county or the library. This way, those who are experiencing hardship will not be burdened with additional expenses. TADA! Problem solved.
no sympathy for the devil, House Saver, and Dave you all make some very good points.

This is another instance of the "cut first where it hurts the most" strategy.

The Crozet library has the highest traffic of any library in the system and has the smallest space and overhead. The downtown C'Ville library would be the best candiate for closure because it seems to be mostly a daytime homeless shelter (see for yourself) and occupies such a prime piece of property and has a lot of overhead.

I have two children and we visit the Crozet library on a weekly basis. There are a lot of fun programs at the library and it is the only place to have access to books for free. Removing the library from the community would just take us one step closer to pure suburb of Charlottesville where everybody has to drive to do anything but shop and eat-out.

Personally I would rather cut the police force by 1/2 than close any libraries.

Get Over Yourself
I do not think that government employees are either lazy or greedy - I do think that to a certain degree they are clueless about how everyone else lives. Pension and benefits are being cut in the private sector, contracts are being rewritten, people are being asked to take pay cuts - businesses close, consolidate or merge. Government is the only entity that I know of that does a reverse budget. When I budget, I start with how much money I have and budget from there. The government seems to decide how much they want and then tries to figure out how to get it.
My point about the director was not to fire him - is there an innovative way to do more with less ? - that's the challenge here and I really think that a director who makes a handsome salary should spend some time investigating solutions rather than threaten to close two beloved branches, which sounds more like extortion than leadership.

Crozetian, I think the idea here is that if the County reduces its contribution to JMRL then there would be a ruduction in the services provided to county residents. I have inferred that the majority of users of the Crozet and Scottsville branches are county residents. If the other localities do not lower their contribution then they should not have to suffer. Frankly I think there can be an error in this logic.
It's funny how only a few years ago, JMRL was studying how to make its system a state-of-the-art group of facilities. Spend in boom times, suffer in lean.

I disagree that government should operate like a busienss. A business exists to make a profit (or in this day and age, to break even). A government operates with the public trust as its number one concern. Our government is charged with the duty to provide for schools, take care of the needy, and to maintain the infrastructure. Unlike a business that starts with revenues generated from a profit system, a government must look at what it is obligated to provide and start with that. Providing for a community's needs is not a means by which the local government will raise money, whereas a company's operating budget is focused on how to achieve the goal of a profit. The two are totally different.

Re get over yourself

I disagree with your analysis.

A business plan identifies a need, determines the amount a customer is willing to pay to fill that need and then creates a budget within that amount of money to see if it can be accomplished. The government needs to do the same thing.

The problem is that the government never tells us how much it REALLY costs us to accomplish something. For instance.. the green roof. They may have budgeted a certain amount for it but did that include all of the prep work and post prep work? The additiioal insurance liability created by the project? THe added cost of maintaining the buliding as a result of the green roof? No it did not. These numbers may be small or they may be large we will never know. So we don't know what we are paying for a service. We just know how much the total bill is.

Would you go to Harris teeter and fill up the cart without looking at prices? Of course not, but that is what the government wants us to do. The just want to tell us " we spent xx on fruit last year without telling us what the breakdown was. I don't trust them to watch my money. It should all be online.

People do not realize that we spend hundreds of dollars planting one tree using overpaid government workers when in the 1960s students from Lane high school did it for free as part of horticulture class.

They both have a fiduciary duty to offer the service at the lowest price/ highest quality combo possible.

"Our government is charged with the duty to provide for schools, take care of the needy , and to maintain the infrastructure." How does this fit in with the more common attitude that the government is supposed to provide whatever anybody asks of it, such as "I want a new playground, traffic lane, botanical garden, badminton team, field trip, computer, stream crossing, free trolley, rain barrel, home inspection, shower head, downpayment, closing costs, babysitting service, pizza, swimming pool, water fountain, public art, stret cleaning, art studio, energy-efficient appliance, low-flow toilet, wheelchair ramp, soccer field, door-to-door transportation, sidewalk curbcut, etc." When government encourages everyone to depend upon for money (good vote-geting technique), eventually it will run out of money, because nohing is free. We just like for other people to pay for it. Quite frankly I'm not impressed that people from Nelson and Buckingham counties use the Scottsville branch.

literacy, who needs literacy? Plans of the newly elected board of supervisors that think economic development in the county is helped by shutting down Crozet public library, in the heart of their main growth area? Which realtor thinks he/she can spin this into increase in quality of life in Crozet? Anyone?
Plainly it boils down to the idea that public service that is of great benefit to the general public is frowned upon and considered a "waste". Boy what a short-sighted and destructive attitude! Slashing a service like this will further depress the local economy and quaility of life. Be warned: businesses will not locate into regions where the people have no interest in investing in their own community!

Does this mean we get our train station back?

I don't understand the controversy. Budget cuts mean less services. The county can't afford all the branches. What exactly is the issue?

I thought Snow was supportive of cutting the budget. Less government means less government, doesn't it? So if the government runs the library, fewer libraries would save the government the money Snow wants the government to save. He should be happy about this, unless he's just another politician saying one thing and doing another.

Albemarle Supervisors Chair Ann Mallek was informed in writing by JMRL President Townsend on Jan. 15 about the Jan. 19 news conference. Here's part of what Townsend wrote: "We wanted to give you a heads-up on this event, and also ask for your help in alerting other members of the Board of Supervisors that it will be happening."

Meanwhile on a different but related topic, in a phone call I had with Supervisor Snow on Jan. 9 about the status of the delayed new library for Crozet, Mr. Snow said the Board of Supervisors was looking at wants versus needs and that things like schools, safety, and maintenance were needs. I followed up by asking him if considered the new Crozet Library a want or a need. He answered, "I think it’s a want."

Finally, JMRL Director John Halliday has plenty of information to share on the many volunteers already in use within the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system.

Gary Grant
Member, JMRL Board of Trustees, Albemarle County
(My personal comments, not spoken on behalf of the JMRL Board.)

Wait a minute! The local Realtors Association just ran an article on how fantastic the future of Scottsville is! What?! No library?! Scottsville has a 20% unemployment rate?! Where's everybody going to hang out and job hunt?!

Even as the plans for a new Crozet Library have been put on hold, the County is still proceeding with plans to demolish the last of two homes in a proposed historic district to make may for the new library. A sign just went up to announce this, while on the empty lot next door, a sign still proclaims a new library is coming in 2011. Why mot take that demolition money and apply it to keeping the current library open a bit longer.
It is time to wake up BOS. Our tax dollars are being wasted!

Wait a minute! The local Realtors Association just ran an article on how fantastic the future of Scottsville is! What?! No library?! Scottsville has a 20% unemployment rate?! Where’s everybody going to hang out and job hunt?!

The local realtor's association consistently says that sales are up, people are looking, etc. I have always found their statements to be BS as it relates to the REAL real estate market.

To clarify my previous suggestion...

If I were the county I would aproach Staples or Best Buy or Hewlitt packard directly and ask for computers in exchange for the screen savers to be locked on their ads.

The library budget is probably not that bloated. The bigger point is the threat to cut where it hurts first. If I cannot secure a raise at my job I don't go home and stop feeding my dog or cut off the electricity. I do believe that if the only way they can figure out how to save money is to shut two popular libraries then they are not qualified to carry out their duties. They should step aside and give someone else a chance who won't play these games with the publics heart strings. It was admitted that they are not usually a vocal group but will "learn fast". Additionally their statment that they cannot find employees is a joke. That statement alone blows their credibility.

It is past time for the county to use their web site to list an itemized budget and ask for public opinion. there are three areas. essential services, (police fire, schools etc) there are non essentila services, (green roofs, junkets, celebrations etc) and there is everything else that is negotiable. List out how much things cost and a paragraph of justification and let the debates begin.

They spend outrageous sums of money and no one ever crunches the number. Example: they are trying to secure 115 MILLION dollars to help rehab 400 existing and build 300 new homes for the poor. That is 165k per home. WHY? Condos go for 125k. Houses in esmont go for 150K.

Where are they going to spend the money??

A elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.

@no sympathy for the devil, it is my understanding that the city's housing authority is planning to spend $115M on low-income housing on property owned by the Charlottesville redevelopment and Housing Authority located in the city. It's a project pushed by Mayor Dave Norris. I wonder why he wasn't re-appointed to that body's board of commissioners this year. Maybe somebody told him it was a conflict of interest for him to negotiate with the board for Section 8 vochers for Virginia Supportive Housing to use in its new SRO facility on 4th and Preston. He was supposed to be representing the interests of the city and not that of a private non-profit. He's already gotten the city to use $1.6M to buy the land for the project. Your other comments are right on the dime, though.

Townsend doesn't seem to be in the mood to work with anyone. He sounds like he's the wrong man for the job.