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D.C. libraries lay off 40 employees

The D.C. Public Library, which reduced hours at neighborhood branches and parked its equivalent of a Bookmobile to save money last year, laid off about 40 employees Tuesday to save a little over $1 million.

The workers - adding up to about 23.5 full-time equivalents - were placed on administrative leave with pay until July 6, according to library spokesman George Williams.

The layoffs come at the same time that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) is pushing the construction of new libraries. Critics say he is building new facilities that cannot be properly staffed in the face of declining revenues. He has received the same criticism over the new ballfields, parks and recreation centers built since he took office in 2007.

The libraries' hours will not be further reduced but some programs will be eliminated, according to a news release.

"The D.C. Public Library, along with libraries across the country, is facing very difficult economic times," said Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper in the release. "We realize that the Mayor and the City Council had tough choices to make with next year's budget.  Even with these reductions, we remain committed to continuing to provide District residents with the service they need and expect."

By Nikita Stewart  |  June 1, 2010; 6:01 PM ET
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There are no real strategic thinkers in the District government. Why would you fire library workers while building new libraries. It's like why fire child social workers when CFSA is a heartbeat away from going under Federal receivership. We are building all these facilities without a maintenance plan. Fenty leaves a great deal to be desired.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 1, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: drfields | June 1, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

What did you expect some of the greatest thinkers are not in D.C.

Posted by: zcxnissan | June 1, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

But Chancellor Rhee just agreed to a contract to pay teachers up to $130,000 a year!! This makes absolutely no sense because it is all about politics and Fenty's big focus is DCPS.

Unfortunately, Fenty and Rhee believe that you have to sacrifice everything else in the city, including social services, so that they can be the "pioneers" in public school reform.

Yes teachers should get raises but in these tough economic times the pay proposal is totally out of whack.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | June 1, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

The library has a full time police force (perhaps the only police force library in the country).
Too many managers (specially at the main library Martin Luther King, even though the circulation is very low for the size of the library), and also too many senior officers taking naps, and working at home or traveling locally or overseas (using sick time), making over 100 k per year .

The new buildings are like white elephants (from the cold war era); they need more people than the old libraries that had been tearing down. Today many of the new libraries are built with one floor, due the cost of staff and maintenance.

Posted by: romanalejandro | June 1, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

That's right build the libraries and fire the staff. Brilliant! I'd like to hear a go-go jingle that ends with go, going, gone!!

Posted by: candycane1 | June 2, 2010 5:28 AM | Report abuse

He can't even manage his own finances and yet he wants to manage the income of 8000 taxi drivers.

Posted by: starclimber9 | June 2, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Concernedaboutdc has it right...

I blame the wasteful spending of the Fenty Administration. To keep firing/laying off workers and keep building all these new buildings just doesnt make sense. I'm sick of Fenty and cannot wait until the primary on Sept 14,2010....FENTY HAS GOT TO GO!!

Posted by: DCJUSTICE | June 2, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

This article is not at all clear. A layoff (in layman's terms) means that an employee is permanently separated from his former employment for an indefinite time period of time. A furlough is a temporary separation from active employment into a non-pay status but the individual(s) may still report that they are “employed” by the enterprise that furloughed them.

The article’s headline says layoff, but the text says they are involuntarily being sent home for a fixed length of time, and they are receiving their pay. This can not be a layoff.

Posted by: rc115shepherd | June 2, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

to rc115shepherd - you are right the text is a little confusing. the workers are on paid leave until july 6th and then they are no longer dcpl employees. no furloughs.

Posted by: dollhouse | June 2, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Remember that when you receive a paycheck it is for an earlier pay period. They aren't being paid through the pay period ending on the 6th. It is my understanding that Mayor Fenty would not allow furloughs, which may have prevented the layoffs.

Posted by: p-man | June 2, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

The MLK Jr Library has got to be the ugliest thing van der Rohe ever designed. I've seen parking garages with more appeal. DC should sell that hot downtown property and use the money to build a bigger and better library at another location. Yeah, yeah I know it is considered an historical landmark. But that building is beyond ugly.

Posted by: nomayo | June 2, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I think that it is disgraceful that a major city is going to cut back on libraries and their outreach programs but build bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave. for a very few number of people. It doesn't balance out but I guess Fenty has his priorities.

Posted by: quilter1 | June 2, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

A little history here, most of the new buildings are actually libraries that were torn down in the 90's and were supposed to be rebuilt such as Waltha T. Daniels or Georgetown or Tenely libraries. It is not just Fenty making these decisions, the City Council has been using the library budget as their slush fund. It was recently reported on my neighborhood listserve that Thomas took $3 million to support some developer's sewer obligations. Here is the question for all of you complaining above, have you spoken to your city councilman, emailed the mayor and said libraries are important. When I asked Ginnie Cooper about this several weeks ago at a public event she said the problem was that most folks weren't willing to protest cuts. We get what we fight for, all of us should starting holding the whole government responsible for these decisions.

Posted by: Brooklander | June 2, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

This is after getting rid of 70 people in 2008 (including managers at MLK - so the earlier poster is in error about MLK's management). How can they possibly keep up the same number of hours with less staff? These "programs" they're cutting can't possibly require 40 people. The remaining staff are being worked to exhaustion. It's insane.

Posted by: amy_e | June 2, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

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