In 1939, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to establish a free public library to serve the 40,000 or so people who lived in the predominately rural county.
A bookmobile, with space for 500-600 books, began in 1940. Today, the library collection numbers more than 2.5 million items, and serves a diverse population of more than one million in 22 regional and community branches. More than 13 million items were borrowed in Fiscal Year 2008.
One major change in the provision of library services is the technology available to library users. You can conduct research, listen to author interviews, seek virtual reference services, search for books, reserve them, download them, or find useful information on any of the 70 databases available via the library’s Web site, www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library. Customers can access the Internet and other software on public computers at library branches, as well as use their own laptops and other devices via a wireless connection installed at library sites.
Friends groups and volunteers also donate thousands of hours in support of the libraries every year. Mark your calendars now for the ever-popular Friends of George Mason Regional Library used book sale from April 30 to May 3 (Thursday sale hours are 5 – 9 p.m.; Friday 10 – 6; Saturday 10 – 5; Sunday 12 – 5). Proceeds from the sale support library programs across the county.
Library branches in Mason District include the George Mason Regional Library at 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale; the Woodrow Wilson Branch at 6101 Knollwood Drive in the Culmore area of Falls Church; and the Thomas Jefferson Branch which currently is under renovation. A temporary library facility opened officially on Monday on the grounds of St. Philip Catholic Church, 7500 St. Philip’s Court in Falls Church. St. Philip’s Court is adjacent to the intersection of Holly Hill Road and Camp Alger Avenue, just behind Falls Church High School.
Branch Manager Phyllis Ray says that although “the change in location may be a bit inconvenient, the newly renovated and expanded library will be worth the wait.” The renovation will expand the original 1962-era library building to nearly 20,000 square feet, with 117 parking spaces and 24 computers. Library bond funding for the renovation was approved by the voters in 2004. The library’s telephone number remains the same: 703/573-1060.
Earth Hour 2009, organized by the World Wildlife Fund, will be observed on Saturday, March 28, at 8:30 p.m. In a powerful international gesture, participating governments will shut off all non-essential lighting visible outside of public buildings, cascading around the world at 8:30 p.m. in every time zone. Significant reductions in carbon emissions can be achieved simply by turning off lights when leaving a room, or walking to errands, if possible, instead of driving. You can observe Earth Hour 2009 by turning off all non-essential lights that are visible from outside your home, and join millions of people around the world doing the same thing.