A special committee of county and school officials will study the possibility of keeping certain school libraries open during evening hours so more students will have a place to write research papers and study.
At a recent School Board meeting, board member Kohann H. Whitney, who represents the Centreville District, suggested leaving selected intermediate and high school libraries open at night or weekends or both for students who do not live near regional or community public libraries.
Most Northern Virginia public school libraries close at the end of the school day.
She said students who live in the rapidly growing western part of the county, such as the Fair Oaks area, and those who live in the densely populated Baileys Crossroads area do not have easy access to public libraries that are well stocked with reference books and magazines.
Whitney said a task force of school and county officials will now study her proposal to work out details such as evening hours, staffing, security and funding for the program.
"This is an opportunity for the schools and the county public libraries to work together," Whitney said in a telephone interview. "We want to provide the best service we can to that part of the population" that lives far from a county facility.
Whitney, who served one year on the county's Library Board of Trustees, also recommended that the task force consider a "joint purchasing" agreement between the county and school libraries. According to the purchasing proposal, the two library systems would combine requests to buy books and magazines, which would lower the overall price of the order.
Edwin (Sam) Clay III, director of the board of trustees, which governs the county's library system, said he is pleased with the School Board's proposal.
"We've seen panic time on Sunday afternoons when a number of students are in the [county] library trying to get papers in," Clay said. "My impression is if we're having that big an onslaught there, what about the students who can't get to the public library."
Whitney said funding for extending school library hours would "not be terribly expensive. The only dollar figure I would see would be for the staffing. Most of the high schools are open in the evening anyway for recreation and community meetings."
Mary E. Collier, School Board chairman, said it was difficult to keep county and school services "up to speed with population growth" in Fairfax County. She said she hopes the county library system will bring more, improved facilities to the newer, more densely populated areas of the county to accommodate the students there.
Currently, the county operates five regional full-service libraries with extensive reference sections in the Tysons area, in Reston, in Fairfax City, in Annandale and in the Mount Vernon area. A new $2.5 million regional facility is scheduled to open in the Burke area by next winter.
There are 21 public libraries in Fairfax County, including nine community and seven minilibraries.
Library officials said there was a proposal to build a regional library "We've seen panic time on Sunday afternoons when a number of students are in the county library trying to get papers in." -- Edwin (Sam) Clay Director, Library Board of Trustees in the Centreville area by 1990. They said that facility is part of a proposed Capital Improvement Plan for the library system for fiscal years 1987-1991.
The proposed improvement plan is scheduled to be heard by the county Board of Supervisors, which approves funding for Fairfax County libraries, in December.