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Reston Regional Library (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Reston Regional Library is slated for a complete renovation as part of the overall redevelopment of Reston Town Center North.

But after the potential RTC North developer unexpectedly withdrew from the project last year, Fairfax County is now looking at making some interim upgrades to the library at 11925 Bowman Towne Drive. The improvements are expected to extend the building’s lifespan for the next seven to ten years.

“While the planned future Reston Regional Library is still in the land acquisition and design phase, this brief and necessary refresh will enhance library visitors’ experiences and complete important facility modernizations to ensure that it remains useable, clean, and safe for the duration of the building’s lifespan,” Fairfax County Public Library Deputy Director Kevin Osborne told FFXnow.

According to a permit application, the library’s bathrooms will be demolished, removing the existing floor, tile, toilets, toilet partitions and lighting. The renovated bathrooms will be up to county standards, including automatic flush toilets, LED lights, hand dryers and drinking fountains.

The redesign is also intended to minimize “unwanted behavior” by removing doors and improving lighting.

FCPL also plans to replace the library’s front and rear entry carpet. LED lighting is planned throughout the building to reduce the library’s energy costs and increase its light levels.

There’s no established timeline yet for when construction might begin, and Osborne noted that the scope of the interim renovations might change.

RTC North’s redevelopment lost steam when developer Folger-Pratt pulled out from the project in February 2023. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors then created a task force to come up with a new plan and asked the county executive to expedite a land exchange with Inova Health System to move the project forward.

Inova owns parcels in RTC North that are currently developed with an emergency room, the North County Human Services Center and Sunrise Senior Living.

The redevelopment project will replace the library and the Embry Rucker Shelter, which will be supplemented by affordable housing. The RTC North task force released a plan in November that also recommended sites for a future school, athletic field and recreation center.

During a media call last week, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn reported that county staff and Inova “are working to start pulling together the documentation” needed to submit a zoning application for the redevelopment.

Designs for the new homeless shelter and library will be shared with the task force for feedback, he pledged.

“That’ll be the next step, but there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes,” Alcorn said. “Frankly, I’m pushing the county because our new shelter and that permanent supportive housing couldn’t come too soon, and the library, that’s important as well.”

Fairfax County Public Library (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County’s next budget could give its public libraries a little more spending money for books.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (March 19), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn proposed allocating an additional $500,000 in the upcoming fiscal year 2025 budget to Fairfax County Public Library’s book collection.

“The Library continues to be one of the most popular services provided by the county and our Library branches are a vital hub of community information,” Alcorn said in his board matter. “…We continue to face issues with meeting the demand for library materials even with the digital formats.”

County Executive Bryan Hill presented a proposed budget on Feb. 20 that increases FCPL’s funding by $410,027, partially offsetting a $1.2 million jump in personnel-related costs with cuts to the system’s operating expenses.

Planned reductions include eliminating a vacant management position, shifting to black-and-white public copiers instead of color ones, adjustments to the number of computers at each branch based on usage, taking over data storage from a third-party vendor and making FCPL’s quarterly magazine digital-only.

Overall, the county is budgeting just under $35 million in expenditures for the library system, most of which ($22 million) goes toward day-to-day operations at its 23 branches.

Alcorn noted that the county’s funding is supplemented by contributions from the nonprofit Fairfax Library Foundation and the Friends groups that support individual branches. The Friends of Reston Regional Library, for instance, donated $100,000 earlier this year to boost the children’s books collection county-wide.

However, funding for books and other materials remains inadequate “to meet the needs of our residents,” who sometimes have to wait months or even more than a year for popular items, he said.

With increased demand for popular and new materials, the Library must balance a proper allocation of limited resources for those items with the needs for materials in support of K-12 students, and ensuring that materials are updated, available in print, large print, audio and digital copies and in multiple languages. Additional funds to the collection budget will ensure that we are providing the resources our community demands from our Library and decrease the wait times so that people can access those resources in a timely fashion.

The Board of Supervisors agreed unanimously on Tuesday to add Alcorn’s proposal to its list of items to consider incorporating into the budget, which includes $3.83 million in not-yet-allocated funds.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity also asked county staff to find out why FCPL is only devoting about 10% of its budget to purchasing materials and whether that guidance comes from the county, the library’s Board of Trustees or the state.

“I think we do need to clearly invest in our library collections,” Herrity said. “It’s something our citizens like. It’s a basic public service we need to promote.”

Town hall meetings on the proposed budget are currently underway, with the Franconia District holding the next one at 6 p.m. today (Friday). Public hearings are scheduled for April 16-18, and the board will mark up the budget, including determining whether to add items like the library funding, on April 30.

A final FY 2025 budget will be adopted on May 7.

People at Reston Town Center witness the 2017 partial solar eclipse through viewing glasses (photo by Dave Emke)

Fairfax County Public Library is giving away free solar eclipse viewing glasses in anticipation of next month’s event, but to snag a pair, you’ll have to move fast.

Each branch will have “a very limited allotment” of a few hundred glasses at most, FCPL Board of Trustees chair Brian Engler confirmed. Though some branches received shipments early, the glasses were expected to be ready for distribution at all locations today (Wednesday), according to FCPL Director Jessica Hudson.

“As they are available at the branch, they will be distributed on a first-come/first-served model,” Engler said.

A total solar eclipse is slated to cross over North America on April 8, traveling northeast from Mexico’s Pacific coast through Texas and the eastern side of the Midwest up to Maine and Newfoundland, Canada. The journey will last from 11:07 a.m. to around 5:16 p.m., according to NASA.

Though Fairfax County isn’t in that path of totality, a partial eclipse will be visible, similar to what the area experienced during the August 2017 eclipse. In that event’s peak, about 82% of the sun was blocked by the moon.

An annular or “ring of fire” eclipse also occurred last Oct. 14, but clouds and rain ultimately put a damper on the event in the D.C. area. Even if the weather had been clear, viewers would’ve seen the moon’s shadow covering only about 40% of the sun.

According to NASA, the 2024 eclipse will pass over more populated areas than the one in 2017 did, and the totality will last longer. In the D.C. area, more of the sun — about 87.4% — will be blocked, so the eclipse “will be noticeably darker,” Fairfax County Park Authority spokesperson Benjamin Boxer says.

Based on NASA’s projections, the eclipse will start around 2:04 p.m., peak at about 3:20 p.m. and end at 4:32 p.m.

“We may even see a slight temperature drop during the event,” Boxer said by email. “…Since, in Northern Virginia, we are not in totality it is not safe to view without special solar glasses or using a projection method.”

Volunteers with the Analemma Society will share tips on how and where to safely view the eclipse at the park authority’s upcoming preview on March 25 at Turner Farm Park’s Roll-Top Observatory (925 Springvale Road) in Great Falls.

Scheduled for 7:30-8:30 p.m., the event is already full after opening registration back on Jan. 30, but a waitlist is available for those hoping to potentially get a spot. The event has an $8 fee.

Celebrations on the day of the eclipse are planned at Turner Farm Park, Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, Burke Lake Park and Historic Huntley Meadows. As of press time, seats remained available for all sessions.

The Ellanor C. Lawrence and Burke Lake celebrations are scheduled for 2-4 p.m. and will feature “related games, activities and demonstrations” before and after the eclipse, along with a limited availability of viewing glasses and sun spotting scopes.

The Historic Huntley and Turner Farm events will take place from 1:30-4:30 p.m. and focus on the science behind eclipses. Attendees will get a free pair of viewing glasses, according to the FCPA.

For those who aren’t able to obtain glasses or would prefer a less direct viewing method, the park authority has instructions for creating a pin-hole mirror or using a colander to see the crescents of light created by the partial eclipse. Cereal boxes were popular viewing tools during the 2017 event.

Next month’s solar eclipse will give scientists a rare opportunity to study the sun and its effects on nature and Earth’s atmosphere, according to the Washington Post. The continental U.S. isn’t projected to get another total solar eclipse until 2044.

Patrick Henry Library in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Town of Vienna’s future library will bear a name with close ties to its past.

Fairfax County Public Library’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved “Vienna-Carter” as the new name for Patrick Henry Library at its meeting on Wednesday (Feb. 14). The name change will officially take effect once the library reopens after an expansion project that’s expected to start later this year and finish in fall 2026.

The vote inspired applause at the back of the George Mason Regional Library meeting room where the board convened. Among those clapping were Hoyt and Dee Dee Carter, a grandson and cousin, respectively, of Patrick Henry Library’s new namesakes, William and Lillian Carter.

“I’m very thrilled,” Dee Dee Carter said after the meeting adjourned. “I’m elated because it was unanimous. Nobody did a pushback, and I’m glad they’re in favor of it.”

Aware of the upcoming renovation, the Carters, who still live in Vienna, proposed last year that Patrick Henry Library be renamed after their family, who were instrumental in getting Fairfax County to integrate the facility when it launched in 1962.

Before Patrick Henry was established, Vienna’s only library was a one-room building on Maple Avenue that only served white residents. One day in the 1950s, the Vienna Library Association’s board of trustees even came to the Carters’ home and took back books that a white woman had checked out for their children, including Hoyt Carter’s father.

That incident spurred the Carters to start an informal “Friends of the Library” group in 1958 that met in their living room, according to a family story recounted in Christopher Barbuschak and Suzanne LaPierre’s book “Desegregation in Northern Virginia Libraries.”

With an interracial membership that included Kenton Kilmer, the son of poet Joyce Kilmer, the friends’ group successfully desegregated Vienna’s library, overcoming the opposition of the library association’s president to revise its charter to allow all patrons regardless of race.

Dee Dee Carter says one of her cousins, Sharon Honesty, was one of the first African American patrons to use Patrick Henry when it opened in Vienna’s Maple Avenue Shopping Center in 1962. The library moved to its current site at 101 Maple Avenue East in 1971.

“We were talking about Blacks being able to go in and use the library and use books from the library, so I feel that it’s a wonder to have this now happen,” Hoyt Carter said of Patrick Henry getting renamed after his grandparents.

Though the vote was unanimous, some board members reported getting questions and emails asking why the name change was being considered.

While the renaming wasn’t subject to a public hearing, FCPL Director Jessica Hudson said community members had several opportunities to weigh in at board meetings, including before the board approved an update to its facility naming policy last November.

The change had gotten the support of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and some Vienna Town Council members, though the council didn’t take an official stance, according to FCPL Board Chair Brian Engler.

Dee Dee Carter told FFXnow that she hasn’t heard anyone object to the new name, which was initially proposed to be “Carter-Vienna.” FCPL’s policy requires library names to reference their geographical location, and the board ultimately decided that the location should go first.

Suzanne Levy, the board’s vice chair and Fairfax City representative, expressed hope that the renaming will draw attention to the library system’s history.

“We’re not hiding what the county used to do,” she said. “It opens discussion and shows that we’re moving forward.”

Patrick Henry Library (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A new look could come with a new name for Patrick Henry Library.

With a major renovation on the horizon, the Fairfax County Public Library’s board of trustees is set to vote next Wednesday (Feb. 14) on whether to rename the Vienna facility after William and Lillian Carter, who co-founded the nonprofit friends’ group that has supported the library for over half a century.

Living members of the Carter family requested the name change last year as a recognition of their ancestors’ efforts to ensure Patrick Henry would be integrated when it launched in 1962, according to Library Board Chair and Braddock District Trustee Brian Engler.

“Mr. Carter was a founding member of the nonprofit Friends of the Library group in Vienna, which advocated for a County library facility within the Town to serve all residents,” Engler told FFXnow. “At that time, library services were only available to white residents. After receiving the inquiry, the Library Board first reviewed its policies regarding facility naming conventions and is now at a point where it can have full board discussion on the request.”

The request came to the board of trustees on Sept. 13, 2023, prompting a re-consideration of FCPL’s policy for naming facilities, according to the board packet for next week’s meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. at George Mason Regional Library (7001 Little River Turnpike) in Annandale.

Previously updated in 2020, the existing policy permitted renaming proposals from residents of a library’s service area “if the benefits of the name change outweigh the costs such a name change could generate.” However, the new name had to reflect the library’s geographic location.

The board approved a revision on Nov. 8 that added the option for libraries to “also include the name of a group or individual, living or deceased, who has made a significant contribution” to FCPL as a whole or to that individual branch. A reference to the branch’s location must still be included.

As a result, FCPL staff are recommending that Patrick Henry be renamed the “Carter-Vienna Library” after it’s rebuilt.

Vienna’s first public library operated out of a one-room building at 101 Maple Avenue East from 1897 to 1962. Spurred by the advocacy of the Friends of Vienna Library group that the Carters helped found, Fairfax County started Patrick Henry Library as a shopping center storefront before its current building opened in 1971.

The original library was relocated to 164 Mill Street NE in 1969 and has been preserved as a museum run by Historic Vienna Inc.

Last renovated in 1995, the Patrick Henry Library building is now nearing the end of its usable life, according to FCPL. The planned overhaul will pair an approximately 18,000-square-foot, one-story library with a 209-space, three-level parking garage partially funded by the Town of Vienna.

According to the board’s Feb. 14 agenda, county staff currently anticipate construction on the project to begin this fall or winter, putting the new library on track to open in fall 2026.

“The County has additionally committed to opening a temporary library space within the Town of Vienna to continue providing resident services during the demolition and construction period,” FCPL staff wrote.

Given its eventual demolition, staff recommended that Patrick Henry Library’s name change, if approved, not take effect until the new building opens.

Tender Hearts founder Prabha Bhattarai presents bags of donated Nepali children’s books to Fairfax County Public Library Technical Operations Director Dianne Coan (courtesy Tender Hearts)

Centreville-based nonprofit Tender Hearts has donated over 100 Nepali-language children’s books to Fairfax County Public Libraries with the aim of connecting local Nepalese families and children to their cultural roots.

Prabha Bhattarai Deuja, founder and president of Tender Hearts, recently delivered the books to the Chantilly branch of Fairfax County Public Libraries, according to a news release.

“The Fairfax County Public Libraries hold a special place in my heart for its dedication to accessibility and equity,” Deuja said in the release. “To be able to contribute to that same mission with our newly added Nepalese culture books brings a sense of pride and gratitude for our community I didn’t know was possible. I am a firm believer that books are just one door to promoting our country and culture.”

The books have been cataloged and are currently available to all Fairfax County residents. More information can be found at

Tender Hearts representatives said they hope to see the collection expanded over time. The nonprofit — formally known as PKP Tender Hearts Foundation — aims to preserve and spread awareness about Nepali culture within children in the U.S.

This article was written by FFXnow’s news partner and republished with permission. Sign up for’s free email subscription today.

Reston Regional Library (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County Public Library’s children’s collection has gotten a big funding boost.

Friends of Reston Regional Library, a volunteer-run organization that supports and promotes Reston Regional Library and Herndon Fortnightly Library along with the rest of the library system, donated $100,000 for the collection.

“This is a major donation for our group and we’re very excited to spread the word, especially as the County is about to publish its draft budget,” the organization wrote in a statement to FFXnow. “We know the library’s collection has so far been seriously underfunded.”

The gift will be used this year to purchase more copies of books that the system already has, as well as new book for young readers. It will help fund the purchase of children’s non-fiction books, picture books and children’s and young adult fiction books.

The check was officially presented on Sunday (Feb. 4) to FCPL Director Jessica Hudson at the Friends’ Mystery and Thriller book sale at Reston Regional Library.

FCPL is seeking a permanent increase in funds to bring its children’s collection up to date. County Executive Bryan Hill will release his proposed fiscal year 2025 budget on Feb. 20.

“Desegregation in Northern Virginia Libraries” is the focus of a February event in Reston (courtesy Reston Museum)

The battle to integrate Fairfax County Public Library and other library systems in the region will be the focus of a Reston-based event for Black History Month.

Authors Chris Barbuschak and Suzanne LaPierre will offer a look at the overlooked history of segregated library services in Northern Virginia at the Feb. 21 event organized by Reston Museum. It’s slated to begin at 7 p.m. at Reston Community Center’s Lake Anne facility (1609-A Washington Plaza North).

The program focuses on the librarians’ book, “Desegregation in Northern Virginia Libraries.”

“We are thrilled to have Mr. Barbuschak and Ms. Lapierre speak at our February program about their book,” Reston Museum Executive Director Alexandra Campbell said. “Those interested in reading the book in advance can purchase the book at the museum or the day of the program. It is an insightful book and I encourage everyone to read it.”

The book highlights how libraries were inaccessible to Black residents — even after the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education that found segregation to be unconstitutional. Ultimately, civil rights activists used protests and lawsuits to gain equitable library services.

The 208-page book, which was published last January, is available online. Registration for the upcoming author talk is available through Reston Museum’s website.

The McLean Community Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 4:35 p.m. on 1/30/2024) The McLean Community Center will cap this year’s Black History Month with an appearance by one of the students who helped integrate public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas — a landmark moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

The youngest member of the “Little Rock Nine,” Carlotta Walls LaNier will visit the Alden Theatre at 1234 Ingleside Avenue on Sunday, Feb. 25 for a free author talk and book signing, preceded by a V.I.P. meet-and-greet.

Sponsored by the nonprofit Fairfax Library Foundation, the meet-and-greet will start at 12:15 p.m. and include refreshments. Currently on sale for $75 through Eventbrite, tickets are available for only 50 people, who will also get reserved seating for the subsequent author talk.

LaNier will then speak from 2-3 p.m. in a Fairfax County Public Library event open to the general public before signing copies of her 2009 memoir “A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School.”

Now 81 years old, LaNier was just 14 when she and eight other teens became the first Black students to attend Little Rock Central High School in 1957, three years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

Initially turned away on Sept. 3, 1957 by the Arkansas National Guard, which had been called in by governor Orval Faubus, the students weren’t able to actually enter the previously all-white school until Sept. 23, 1957. They were escorted by Little Rock police officers through a mob that began rioting, forcing the students to be quickly evacuated.

It took federal intervention, with President Dwight Eisenhower ordering an escort of Army troops, for the Little Rock Nine to make it into Little Rock Central High School for their first full day of classes on Sept. 25.

Becoming the school’s first Black, female graduate in 1960, LaNier is now 81 years old and has lived in Colorado since 1962, according to the Colorado Sun. In recent years, she has raised concerns about the country regressing when it comes to civil rights and the inclusiveness of education, particularly on history.

“I am concerned that they [young people] are not getting all that I got, even in a segregated school. Parents are paying taxes for good schools, and they’re not getting them,” LaNier told the Denver Urban Spectrum in 2022. “It’s disheartening to know that these kids are not receiving the type of education that even I received in a segregated and integrated environment.”

Correction: This story has been updated with the accurate location of Carlotta LaNier’s events. Fairfax Library Foundation initially announced that they would be held at Dolley Madison Library.

Suspense novelist David Baldacci will headline Fairfax County Public Library’s first Local Author Book Festival (photo by Allen Jones)

For local bookworms who missed out on last month’s National Book Festival in D.C., you’re in luck.

Fairfax County Public Library will launch a book festival of its own on Sept. 30 with an exclusive focus on writers based in Northern Virginia.

That mission separates the Local Author Book Festival from not just the Library of Congress literary extravaganza, but also George Mason University’s annual Fall for the Book, which will mark its 25th year in October with top-billed guests like “High Fidelity” author Nick Hornby and Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James.

“You would be surprised at the number of writers who live in Northern Virginia!” FCPL Program and Educational Services Director Renee Edwards said. “Every year, we get requests from writers who want the library to host author events where they can meet the public and talk about their books. To bring special attention to our writers and give them the opportunity to meet community members and talk about their books, we are hosting our first Local Author Book Festival.”

Kicking off the festival at 9:30 am with a V.I.P. meet-and-greet at Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Road) will be bestselling suspense novelist David Baldacci. The Fairfax Library Foundation, which is sponsoring the festival, describes him as a “Fairfax County favorite son.”

The meet-and-greet will be limited to 50 people, who must purchase a $75 ticket to attend. However, as the festival’s headline speaker, Baldacci will also discuss his novels and answer questions in a free presentation from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by a book sale and signing.

Meet-and-greet participants will get a reserved seat for the general presentation.

A lifelong Virginia resident, Baldacci is a mainstay of the local literary scene, appearing in past events at various county library branches and launching a book at Bards Alley in Vienna last year. The Fairfax Library Foundation honored him and his wife in 2012 for starting the Wish You Well Foundation, a Reston-based charity that supports literacy programs.

“David Baldacci is a local author who is a fan of public libraries. In the past, he has presented at several of our branches and people are always excited to hear him speak!” Edwards said. “We think he is the perfect author to kick off the Local Author Book Festival.”

Overall, there will be 40 authors at the inaugural Local Author Book Festival. FCPL invited authors based on a list of people who had signed up to present at the library, according to Edwards, who says “there was a lot of interest.”

Other confirmed participants include “Instant Pot Asian Pressure Cooker Meals” author Patricia Tanumihardja, “Chronicles of a Royal Pet: Princess and an Ooze” author Ian Rogers, “Havana Hardball: Spring Training, Jackie Robinson, and The Cuban League” author César Brioso, and Jennifer Garman, author of “Flourish: 7 Ways Gratitude can Transform Your Life.”

In addition to allowing community members to meet local authors and buy their books, the outdoor festival will feature snacks, a bookmaking area for kids, a caricature artist, a Silly Shotz photo booth, a raffle for $25 Visa gift cards, and more.

While this festival last just one day, concluding at 3 p.m., FCPL hosts author events year-round. This fall, the library is planning to bring back its Indie Author Day program, which is dedicated to recognizing self-published authors.

Edwards says the library hopes to invite 24 authors to participate in virtual panels from Nov. 1-4.

“Authors and books are our business!” Edwards said. “We love bringing special attention to the people who are right next door — in our county — that may go unnoticed. It is important to us to make sure we are always connecting readers to books.”


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