More Fairfax County library patrons borrow books on World War II than any other nonfiction subject, according to officials at the county's public library system, which this month begins a yearlong series of lectures and documentary films on the war and its historical lessons.

"The total number of people who participated in the armed forces {during World War II} was 16 million," said Henry Sage, a historian and retired marine who will be one of the speakers. "That's a huge number who were personally involved" and remain interested in the war.

To meet this demand, the Fairfax and Fauquier County libraries start "World War II: Reality and Remembrance" this month with lectures at seven libraries. The fall part of the series will include six lectures of the National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored program focus on the military conduct of the war. Later, discussions will concentrate on American experiences at home during the war, and the aftermath of the conflict.

Project coordinator John Lane said he hopes 7,000 people will attend the lecture and discussions. "The purpose is to provide post-World War II generations knowledge of the impact of the war on Americans. Most younger people look at World War II through a Vietnam window," he said. "While there were certainly similarities in both conflicts, there were more dissimilarities....Some of what was portrayed then will be looked at differently now. The Japanese internment, viewed now, you wonder how that could happen, but back then there was a great deal of fear.

"Of particular interest to me is how our perceptions of World War II have changed in light of Vietnam," Sage said. "We looked back at World War II and said maybe there were problems....That critical point of view was valuable."

Other speakers are to include Harold Langley, curator of naval history at the Smithsonian Institution; Robert Beisner, chairman of the history department at American University; and Ronald Spector, author of "Eagle Against the Sun," a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice.

Programs begin this month at the Fairfax County regional libraries in Burke, Reston, Falls Church, Annandale and two in Alexandria, and in Fauquier County in Warrenton. The lectures are free, but preregistration is required. Forms can be obtained by calling 691-2121 in Fairfax, or 347-8757 in Warrenton.

The Fairfax library's cable channel 44 will broadcast World War II documentaries, beginning with "Prelude to War" at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.