SJR 300

Joint Subcommittee Studying the Reorganization of the Library of Virginia

July 7, 1997, Richmond

Initially created in 1994 to examine the future and organizational structure of The Library of Virginia, the SJR 300 committee has examined the history, mission, and duties of the library. The committee has looked at the designation and application of funds for the library, including salary levels, and the organization and funding of state libraries and archives in other states. The subcommittee has also received testimony regarding the construction of the new library facility, archives and document preservation needs, and the library's 1995 internal reorganization, initiated in response to directives of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Government Reform. That reorganization made several significant changes, including eliminating the Archives and Records Division, placing archival research functions in a Research and Information Services Division, and modifying certain job descriptions and salary bases.

In 1997, the General Assembly continued the work of the committee for an additional year specifically to examine (i) the efficacy and appropriateness of establishing an autonomous state archives agency separate from the library; (ii) the library's internal reorganization plan and the funding and staffing levels for the various divisions within the library and the archives; (iii) the current and projected storage and space needs and preservation efforts, including the status of preservation needs of the library's historic art works; and (iv) such other matters as it deems appropriate. The committee is to submit its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the 1998 Session of the General Assembly.

New Facility

According to the chairman of the Library Board, the number of visitors to the library in the months since its January 3, 1997, opening has already doubled that of the entire previous year. Noting that the library "holds in trust the history of Virginia and the history of the nation," he cited the need for funding to acquire additional works and to preserve literary materials. The immediate past chairman of the Library Board highlighted the library's reorganization, developed with "extensive input from staff at all levels who suggested changes to better serve the public and to better use our resources." He urged the committee to commit the resources necessary to fulfill the library's mission, "particularly in the areas of preservation and conservation of materials, new collections and advanced technology."

Records Center

The State Librarian described the Records Center construction and classification and pay disparity study. Currently, the library has records storage space at several sites in downtown Richmond, including space in the old library facility. The new Records Center will be located on Charles City Road in eastern Henrico County. The library expects to receive and review bids for this facility and award a contract for its construction in July 1997. The center will provide lower-cost storage for those records that are low-use or inactive, while still making these records available to the public. Four years ago, groundbreaking for this center was expected for a site near the Science Museum; that project was placed on hold and the current site was subsequently selected by the Department of General Services. The project has now been returned to the library, with expected building completion in spring 1999. The site will provide approximately 130,000 cubic feet of storage to accommodate current and future needs.

Pay Disparity Study

A 1988 study conducted by the Department of Personnel and Training recommended different pay scales for librarians and historians; however, the library is steadily moving toward establishing comparable classifications for comparable work. The librarian has repeatedly requested DPT permission to grant the two-step salary increase necessary to eliminate pay disparities for those 19 employees affected by the 1988 report's findings. A total of $38,824, currently within the library's budget, is needed to fund this request. The library has also retained Peat Marwick to conduct a compensation and staffing study; the information from this effort should be available by late August. Included in the study's focus will be workloads and salaries for employee recruitment and retention.

Other Reports

The joint subcommittee heard detailed reports concerning current materials expenditures, funding for the preservation of the library's collections, increases in staffing levels in public service areas, an immediate need for microfilming of certain collections, and the need for more resources to relieve an increasing backlog of microfilming needs. Finally, representatives of various genealogical and historical organizations urged the joint subcommittee to recommend increased funding to provide greater public access to historical and archival documents.

The Honorable Stanley C. Walker, Chairman
Legislative Services contact: Kathleen G. Harris