Residents appeared before Alexandria City Council Saturday to ask for the restoration of proposed budget cuts at the library branches and fund repairs at Beatley Central Library.
City Manager Rashad Young is proposing to cut library hours by two hours per week at the city’s branches in Old Town, Del Ray and the Seminary Hill area. At the hearing, several residents stood in support of remarks from Eileen Bradley, president of Friends of Beatley Central Library.
• See: Library Hours Cut in Budget Proposal
The Friends group launched a petition drive to support the library budget on March 20 and collected 2,339 signatures to approve a custodial contract and a set-aside of $565,000 in the Capital Improvement Program to fix deterioration at Beatley Central Library, which the city manager has proposed. The petition also asks council to reject the proposal to cut service hours and resource budgets at the library branches to buy books, CDs and other materials.
Bradley presented council members with flash drives containing 275 photos documenting deterioration at Beatley Central Library. Water leakage has damaged both the interior and exterior, she said.
“It is not just a good idea to include $565,000 for the Capital Improvement Program, but it as a compelling one, one that has been needed for a very long time,” Bradley said. “... Do not let the Alexandria jurisdiction be the only one in the metro region that is cutting service hours.”
Bradley said the damage has taken place over the past five or six years at Beatley, which opened in 2000.
Also speaking Saturday was Bill Hendrickson, president of the Del Ray Citizens Association, in support of restoring cuts to library branches that will affect operating hours.
Hendrickson said cutting evening hours at the Duncan Branch would affect community groups who meet at the library. “Most people in Del Ray work during the day,” he said. “And the library is an important gathering place for the community in the evening.
“Both the library and community groups sponsor events there. And so, by cutting evening hours... our overall sense of community will be diminished, we feel.”
The DRCA voted last week to send a letter to Young, the council and the Alexandria Library Board asking that the current hours of operation at Duncan Branch be maintained.