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Fairfax Considers Additional Cuts To Libraries

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Libraries across Fairfax County have had to slash hours and programs to get by over the past five years.
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Libraries across Fairfax County have had to slash hours and programs to get by over the past five years.

Walk into the Centreville Library and one is confronted with an institution in crisis. Attendance is up and demand has increased, even as the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors slashed $5 million out of the library system's budget in the last four years.

"We've reduced staff," says Sam Clay, director of the 21-branch Fairfax County Public Library system. "We've reduced the amount that we've purchase each year for our collection, and as a result we've reduced hours. And because of that then we've reduced the number of programs that we're able to provide to our public."

Outgoing county executive Tony Griffin has suggested an additional $300,000 in cuts next year.

"The cuts were intended to be on the edge, not hit significant programs," says Griffin.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust disagrees.

"I think we are beyond the edges already with those, at least that's my experience in my district," says Foust.

Providence Supervisor Linda Smyth says she's heard from residents who are unhappy with the cutbacks. She says her constituents really use the libraries, and they're feeling that pinch.

Mason District Supervisor Peggy Gross says the library system has been damaged by the cuts. She says it's time to restore some of the hours and staffing that's been lost in recent years.

"Showing up three mornings and two evenings and a weekend, that certainly isn't the kind of county career that somebody would want to have," Gross says.

Library officials are prepared to cut $300,000 if they must. But they're also putting together a menu of options for supervisors to restore some of the staffing and hours that have been lost in recent years.

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