Library branches would be built in Burke Centre and Oakton and four of the county's oldest branches would be renovated if voters approve a $52.5 million bond issue on Tuesday. It is the county's first library bond issue in 15 years.
The major renovations funded by the sale of the bonds would be at the Thomas Jefferson Library in the Falls Church area, the Richard Byrd Library in Springfield, the Dolley Madison Library in McLean and the Martha Washington Library near Mount Vernon.
In addition, a portion of the money from the bond sale would pay for what library officials call "renewal" projects at several older libraries that need repairs to such things as plumbing and heating and cooling systems that have reached the end of their life cycle.
"It's a big bond referendum for us," said Jane Goodwin, deputy director of the county library system, which has 20 regional and community branches.
Goodwin, who noted there has not been a bond proposal devoted to libraries since 1989, said the Burke Centre and Oakton branches and the four renovation projects are needed to meet the increased demand for services from a diverse and growing population that uses the libraries in different ways than in past years.
At a recent briefing for reporters at Thomas Jefferson Library, Goodwin said, "What we have to understand is the way people have changed their use of libraries as community space."
Community libraries now attract civic, social and education groups for meetings and other activities, Goodwin said. The space the libraries can offer to meet such needs is insufficient, she said.
Moreover, the libraries now offer space-eating equipment and materials that were not around in the past, such as computers for Internet access and books printed in foreign languages to serve Fairfax's mix of immigrants, most of whom are from Asia and Latin America. There is also more demand for large-print books, cassettes and CDs.
Thomas Jefferson was chosen as the site for the briefing because it is an example of a library heavily used by immigrants seeking Internet access to contact relatives in their native countries. The 42-year-old library, at 7415 Arlington Blvd., would grow from 10,300 square feet to 16,500 square feet by November 2008 if voters approve the bond sale.
The Byrd, Madison and Washington libraries would be similarly expanded. Byrd's 39-year-old building, at 7250 Commerce St., would go from 10,000 square feet to 18,200 square feet by April 2010. Madison, a 37-year-old building at 1244 Oak Ridge Ave., would increase from 10,630 square feet to 19,250 square feet by November 2008. And Martha Washington, opened in 1969 at 6614 Fort Hunt Rd., would grow from 10,220 square feet to 17,990 square feet by April 2010.
The four renovation projects would total $29.5 million. If money were left over, officials said, it would be spent on preliminary design for major renovations required at five other library branches. Library officials said they select the projects based on age, condition of the building and use by patrons.
Because library officials said the Kings Park and Pohick regional libraries lack the capacity to continue serving the Burke Centre area, a new 17,000-square-foot library is planned adjacent to Fairfax County Parkway at Freds Oak Road in Burke.
Construction on the $11.2 million building would begin late next year and be completed in February 2007. The library would be in the Braddock District, which county demographers said will grow by 6.6 percent in the next 15 years.
The Oakton Library, on Lynnhaven Place just off Hunter Mill Road, would be about the same size as Burke Centre's. This $7.6 million library would help ease the burden on the Patrick Henry Library in Vienna, the busiest of the county's small branches. It is in the Providence District, which officials say will grow by 15 percent by 2020. Construction would start in early 2006 and finish in spring 2007.
For more information, visit www.co.fairfax.va.us/opa/bond/citizeninfo.htm#library.