Loudoun Supervisors Seek Option to Take Library Board Power

Loudoun County supervisors will this year ask the General Assembly for legislation allowing the county board to seize the powers of the Loudoun County Public Library Board of Trustees.

Like the School Board, although the Board of Supervisors provides the budget for the public libraries, the Board of Trustees is the library’s governing body, deciding on library programming and how to use those funds. Unlike the modern School Board with elected representatives, members of the library board are appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and the library system leans on the county for administrative functions like human resources and payroll management.

But County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) likened the library board to the county’s other advisory boards.

“Technically, the library board is a governing body, so I certainly understand why they don’t want to lose that, but the way I feel about our advisory boards and bodies, I don’t see the library board as a higher board or an advisory board as a lesser board,” Randall said during the Nov. 16 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Loudoun’s library system is considered among the best in the country, regularly winning national acclaim including in July being recognized with an honorable mention for Library of Year, in part for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loudoun, like most Virginia counties, is required by state law to create a body that governs its public libraries, including control of funding put toward the library system. County supervisors came into conflict with the library Board of Trustees in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when they decided—by email, rather than in a public meeting, and with no advance notice—that they would take over the Rust and Ashburn library buildings to use for daytime childcare services for county employees while schools were closed. County Attorney Leo Rogers reasoned that because the buildings are owned by the county government, the Board of Supervisors could do that. Ultimately, the libraries were not needed for that service—which got lower-than-anticipated enrollment even after opening signups to all families countywide—and supervisors relented and allowed those libraries to reopen.

In October 2020, members of the Board of Supervisors’ finance committee, discussing the possibility of taking over the authority of the library board, said it was not about that conflict, but about collective bargaining.

This October, the Loudoun library board unanimously voted to ask supervisors to seek an amendment to state code that would permit library boards to negotiate with their employees in a collective bargaining arrangement. Supervisors instead will seek to make those library employees their own, bringing them under existing collective bargaining law. And the state’s newly authorized collective bargaining ordinance for public employees is also what gave some supervisors pause on that change.

“I’ve struggled with this because I’ve been generally supportive of the notion that the libraries should be fully under the county umbrella,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “I think this is probably the year I’m just not going to support this even though this will be the year it might pass, because I’m just too uncertain on how the collective bargaining situation is going to play out.”

Supervisors voted to add that change, giving them the option to take over the powers of the library board, to the county’s legislative agenda 5-3-1, with Letourneau and Supervisors Caleb E. Kershner (R-Catoctin) and Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) opposed and Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) absent for the vote.

14 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Seek Option to Take Library Board Power

  • 2021-11-22 at 2:48 pm
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    Unions destroyed the schools. Now they want to destroy the libraries too.

    Democrats need to stop their policies of destruction.

  • 2021-11-22 at 3:58 pm
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    ” County supervisors came into conflict with the library Board of Trustees in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when they decided—by email, rather than in a public meeting, and with no advance notice—that they would take over the Rust and Ashburn library buildings to use for daytime childcare services for county employees while schools were closed.”

    This is precisely what this is about.

    • 2021-11-27 at 1:12 pm
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      Absolutely! It further extends to BOS power. They need to be more transparent and in the past they have suddenly decided to change different county agencies depending on “needs” like the ridiculousness that was the emergency childcare center. Why not see how many people register first before turning everything upside-down?
      They can’t handle what’s on their plate right now so it seems like a good idea to add more things that they can be incompetent about.

  • 2021-11-22 at 4:12 pm
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    The county board has proven they can’t manage the rest of the county business. And their absurd demand for county library buildings that they didn’t even need is the perfect example of why the county board should not have control of the libraries.

    I wish the county board would try and figure out how to run their current portfolio before taking on further obligations and responsibilities. It’s not like they have shined very often with Metro, sports palaces, real estate deals, taxes or anything else.

  • 2021-11-22 at 4:14 pm
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    What is the rationale of the Board of Supervisors for this action? It almost sounds like more politicization of the services we receive.

    • 2021-11-22 at 10:22 pm
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      The reason is this BOS wants absolute power over everything and they can’t stand it when they are told no. They want to get rid of the Sheriff and build a police department, so they can name a Chief who will be a puppet for them, which Sheriff Chapman is certainly not.
      During the height of the COVID craziness, the BOS tried to hijack the libraries to use as daycare facilities for county employee’s children and they had to backpedal on that. That is exactly what this is about, that and probably removing any history books they disagree with (the ones that tell the true history of this country).

    • 2021-11-23 at 1:12 am
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      So despite the ultimate politicization of the library board/BOS dispute, the citizens of Loudoun are to expect the BOS not to politicize the sheriff’s office? Hahahahahahaha. The only institutions that get high praise in this county are LCSO and the libraries.

  • 2021-11-22 at 5:20 pm
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    Next they will want the health department at great cost to Loudoun taxpayers. They sure cannot handle the school board or commonwealth attorney so let us put them in charge of an award winning system said no one ever!

  • 2021-11-22 at 5:51 pm
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    The end of the year does not mean the end of extended Metrorail wait times.

    The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority announced Monday that customers can expect continued levels of reduced service to continue through Dec. 31, 2021.

    WMATA stated the reasoning is due to the ongoing testing of the 7000-series cars

  • 2021-11-22 at 11:15 pm
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    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I guess the BOS can’t be happy unless they destroy the one piece of Loudoun that has a good reputation. What a vindictive bunch of Yahoo’s.

  • 2021-11-23 at 6:10 am
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    The one department in the entire County which has consistently been able to fulfill their purpose and the BOS wants to control it? Leave this department alone! While the rest of the county hides behind closed doors and metal detectors the library has continued its first-class services! Go after a department that needs oversight from financial abuse, slacking employees and restrictive services!

  • 2021-11-23 at 5:28 pm
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    Sheridan says hold my beer, no surprise that our Loudoun County schools, once the pride of the state and the envy of the nation, have suffered a “decline in student enrollment.” When was the last time that happened? Never?

  • 2021-11-24 at 12:30 pm
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    You KNOW it’s bad when the usual apologists can’t manufacture support for the BoS.

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