While the consultants believe that action is needed on all 17 of the recommendations presented above, a variety of factors suggest that immediate attention can be given to some while acting on others will require considerably more extensive groundwork and preparation. The consultants have identified four of the recommendations that, in our opinion, should be addressed without delay.
Two of the priorities that we have identified (Recommendation # 14 and Recommendation # 16) do not require any legislative action nor do they require any appropriation of tax dollars. Furthermore, making progress on these two fronts will enhance the capability of the library community to move forward on other recommended actions.
Recommendation # 14 calls for the development of an "Ohio Library Council" model for advocacy. While implementing this suggestion will require financial support, exploration of the concept and the initial planning required to apply this model to Virginia’s unique situation will not. The consultants believe that the Virginia Public Library Directors’ Association is the most likely candidate to convene a gathering of interested parties.
Recommendation # 16, which calls for the development of a more symbiotic/synergistic relationship between the Library of Virginia and the Commonwealth’s public libraries, can also be accomplished without the appropriation of additional public funds. The Library of Virginia Board could appoint a special committee or could designate an existing committee to convene a meeting that would include the Library of Virginia Board, Library of Virginia senior staff (not just staff from the Library Development and Networking Division), members of the Virginia Public Library Directors’ Association, and a facilitator. The consultants recommend using a modified version of a specific process referred to as a "Future Search." More information about the Future Search process can be found at:
The consultants believe that a concerted effort should be made to begin work on two of the other recommendations as soon as possible. Recommendation # 2 calls for a review of the certification issue and an effort to strengthen Code of Virginia and administrative rules regarding the certification of public library directors. We recommend rapid action on this issue for two reasons. First, we believe that professional leadership is a core component necessary for achieving high quality public library and information services in Virginia. Secondly, we believe that quick action in response to the recent gutting of the effectiveness of Virginia’s certification program is necessary to make it clear that Virginia intends to strengthen, not weaken, standards of quality in regard to public library services.
The last of the four recommendations that the consultants believe should receive rapid attention is # 6. While accomplishing the goal of having a discrete category of State Aid that would address equity will certainly take an extended period of time, we believe that this recommendation is at the heart of the challenge facing public library services in Virginia. Exploration of the best method for instituting such a program should begin immediately simply because it is so important. As was illustrated in the introduction to this report, libraries can fulfill many vital roles that have a positive impact on individuals and on the communities in which they live. Addressing the equity issue is important not just for libraries. It is a matter of statewide importance.