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by Dave Emke — January 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm 2 Comments

Of the 23 branches in the Fairfax County Public Library system, only one has a dedicated children’s desk.

That area, at the Reston Regional Library, is a bustling center of activity. So said Dorota Rodgers, the library’s youth services manager.

“It’s everything, from storytime to movies to art class,” she said.

The schedule of children’s events for the coming month at the library is jam-packed, featuring something for kids of all ages — from babies all the way up through teens. Programming for teens, for example, includes coding workshops and a Teen Advisory Board.

But Rodgers said there is a “very high demand” for programs geared toward babies.

“When registration opens, it is full in 20 or 30 minutes,” she said. “I think people are more focused on how to prepare their children to be successful as a reader and then at school.”

With that in mind, the library is putting a major focus on the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, which launched Nov. 1. The program encourages parents to regularly read to their young children, getting the kids to make reading an important aspect of their lives.

Rodgers said nearly 150 families have registered for the program at the Reston library in its first two months, and some have already reached the 250-book plateau.

“Children learn about pre-reading skills. They can start learning from birth,” she said. “It’s a very precious program.”

Getting children familiar with the importance of reading is a key component to their future success, Rodgers said. She said the all-volunteer teachers who provide programming at the library are a big part of getting kids excited about visiting.

One program sees trained therapy dogs brought into the library. Children read to the pups and gain a valuable learning experience in doing so, Rodgers said.

“They lay down with the dog, show pictures to the dog, whisper to them,” Rodgers said. “Nobody judges them, and they just love spending time reading in a 15-minute session, one on one.”

More intricate programs that require bringing in outside presenters, such as Little Twisters Storytime Yoga and Gymboree Music, are co-sponsored by the Friends of the Reston Regional Library.

“Thanks to the very supportive Friends of the Reston Regional Library, I can book many paid performers from outside, additional to our programs done by our staff members,” Rodgers said.

The library also offers programming for adults, including stress-relieving coloring sessions and courses in English as a Second Language.

For more information on upcoming programming at the Reston Regional Library, check out the online calendar, call the library at 703-689-2700 or pick up a schedule at the front desk.

by Karen Goff — August 18, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Reston Regional LibraryNow is the time to stock your children’s home library (or pick up a few volumes to donate to the classroom).

The Friends of Reston Regional Library’s Children and Teen Book Sale runs Thursday through Sunday at the library, 11925 Bowman Towne Dr.

The Friends have gathered thousands of books and materials that will be for sale for bargain prices.

Here are the sale hours:

  • Thursday, August 18 — 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Friday, August 19 — 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 20 — 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 21 — 1 – 3:30 p.m.

All proceeds benefit the Reston Regional Library and the Fairfax County Public Library system.

by Karen Goff — June 10, 2016 at 11:00 am 19 Comments

Front of API BuildingDon’t bulldoze the Marcel Breuer-designed former American Press Institute building in Reston. Turn it into the new Reston Regional Library.

That’s the suggestion of the Fairfax Library Advocates, who are urging citizens to write to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Planning Commission in support of the idea.

The planning commission will make a decision June 16 on whether to recommend Sekas Homes’ rezoning application to the Board of Supervisors.

Sekas seeks to build 34 townhomes and 10 condominiums on the 4.6 acres off of Sunrise Valley Drive in South Reston. A county staff report recommends approval of the application.But in the last few weeks, there has been concern by historical groups and former employees of the American Press Institute, which was housed in the building from 1974 until 2012. The building has been vacant and for sale for more than four years.

The groups are urging the county and state to consider the building for historic designation, even though it is less than 50 years old.

The library advocates say repurpose it. Reston needs a new library and $10 million in county bonds have been set aside to build one. The current plan is to build in the Reston Town Center North area, close to where the current Reston Regional Library stands.<

Here is what the library advocates have to say on their blog:

Fairfax County’s Architectural Review Board has asked that the county reconsider bulldozing the American Press Institute (API) building on Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston.

They believe the building, designed by Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer, has historic architectural significance and should not be taken down and replaced with townhouses. API is the only building in Virginia designed by Breuer.

This building at 48,000 square feet is large enough to house a regional library. It’s in an excellent location. The $10 million library bond approved by voters is enough to purchase and renovate the building.

Current development plans for the library parcel in Town Center North and for the API site on Sunrise Valley Drive need to be paused to consider an adaptive reuse of the API building as a public library.

Please write the Planning Commissioners and the Board of Supervisors as soon as possible to ask that this option be considered.

by Karen Goff — November 5, 2015 at 11:30 am 19 Comments

Reston Regional LibrarySome details are starting to take shape of what Fairfax County officials and area citizens would like to see on the first two blocks of redevelopment at Reston Town Center North.

At a community meeting on Wednesday, Fairfax County officials presented rough standards for Blocks 7 and 8 — the area along Bowman Towne Drive where the Reston Regional Library and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter are located.

Those two facilities will be rebuilt in the same spot — only in a larger and more urban format with more services and amenities.

 “We are not looking to copy the Reston Town Center space, but rather to complement it,” county project manager Andy Miller said about the plans for the overall 49-acre redevelopment that will stretch from Bowman Towne Drive to Baron Cameron Avenue.

No specific plans have been drawn, and the county must first go through a lengthy rezoning and planning process.

But in theory, an idea is emerging of what will be there in the future.

The current library is 30,000 square feet. The replacement library would be 39,000 square feet, which would make it the largest library in the Fairfax County system (not including Fairfax City, which houses the Virginia Room, a large facility for historic documents), said Miller.

The library will be built in “urban form,” meaning it will take up one or two floors in a larger structure. There will be parking beneath the building and no surface parking. There will also be an additional 4,000 square feet of space that will likely be used for senior services.

Embry Rucker Community Shelter, meanwhile, will be replaced with a facility nearly twice its size. The current shelter is 10,500 square feet with 70 beds. The proposed replacement shelter would be 21,300 square feet with 90 beds.

The 90 beds would include space for 11 families, 40 individuals, 6 medical spaces and expanded space during hypothermia season (November to March).

The shelter will in urban form as part of a larger building, with an additional 28,000 square feet being considered for use by non-profits.

Both the library and shelter will need to be temporarily housed elsewhere during construction.

Citizens, as they did at a previous meeting in September, gave feedback on what they would like to see at both facilities. Among the suggestions: tutoring rooms and more children’s areas at the library;  and the temporary shelter being relocated to the empty Cameron Glen Care building nearby.

The county also showed tentative plans for other development on Blocks 7 and 8. There will likely be between 270,000 and 340,000 square feet of retail/commercial/office space, much of it in the same buildings as the library and shelter.

Tentative residential plans for Blocks 7 and 8 include 360-420 market-rate units; 12 percent affordable units (44-51 units); and 30 “supportive housing units” related to the shelter (mainly for people/families making less than 30 percent of the area median income).

An estimated timeline for redevelopment: Rezoning and and a Request for Proposals would take place in 2016, followed by individual rezoning of Blocks 7 and 8 in 2018. The design and permit process would take about 18-24 months in 2018-2020. Construction would take several years, with the final product being delivered in 2023.

Read about overall plans for Reston Town Center North in this previous Reston Now story.

by Karen Goff — October 28, 2015 at 10:30 am 11 Comments

 Reston citizens will have another chance to weigh in on the future of Reston Town Center North at a community meeting Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m. at  South Lakes High School.

The meeting is a continuation of the conversation on Sept. 19, where county officials discussed the community’s needs regarding Embry Rucker Community Shelter, Reston Regional Library and the North County Human Services Building, which houses mental and social services.

In late September, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a land swap between the Fairfax County and Inova. The swap will help the county organize the 49-acre site better in order for it to be rezoned and redeveloped in parcels.

First up: Parcels 7 and 8 (see attached map), which houses Embry Rucker and the library. Both are aging and in need of expansion, officials said at previous meetings. A Request for Proposals for those facilities was put out to developers several months ago. The county has not yet released the results.

Fairfax County voters approved $10 million in funding for the new library as part of a 2012 bond issue.

Citizens attending the September meeting spoke up about adding a nursing home to replace Cameron Glen Care Center, which closed in 2014. Many also wanted to make sure the library got proper attention — and that citizens would not be shortchanged if the library was temporarily relocated during construction.

The redevelopment of all parcels will take up to 10 years, Andrew Miller, Project Coordinator of the Public-Private Partnerships Branch of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, said at a previous meeting.

The Town Center North project also includes the county’s acquisition of Reston Towne Green, a five-acre parcel from the Fairfax County Park Authority. In exchange, the park authority has rights to build a 90,000-square-foot recreation center in RTC North. It also ensures that Reston Town Center North will have a 2.6-acre public park in the center of the development.

Eventually, the proposed redevelopment, which runs from New Dominion Parkway to Bowman Town Drive and Town Center Parkway to Fountain Drive, may also include building residences, a performing arts center, offices, and retail, among other amenities.

Inova owns the parcels with Sunrise Assisted Living, the Emergency Care Center and the former Cameron Glen building. Inova has no immediate plans for redevelopment, a representative said.

Graphic of Reston Town Center North grid courtesy Fairfax County

by Karen Goff — August 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm 0

Reston Regional LibraryFinish summer reading in a big way — by adding to your book collection at this week’s Children and Teens book sale at Reston Regional Library, 11925 Bowman Green Dr.

There will be shelves of gently used books and teaching materials for sale. Proceeds benefit Reston Regional, as well as Friends of Reston Regional, the non profit that sponsors and pays for additional library programming and supplies.

Sale hours:

  • Thursday, Aug. 20 — 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 21 — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 22– 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug.  23– 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Payment is by cash or check. Sorry, no credit cards, scanners, or electronic devices.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 703-829-5467.

by Karen Goff — March 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm 0

Reston Regional LibraryAre your kids voracious readers? Are you a teacher or parent who wants to score some great books for for your collection?

Then stop by the Reston Regional Library this weekend for the Friends of the Reston Regional Library’s Spring Children/Teens Book Sale.

There will be hundreds of gently used books and teaching materials for children and educators and books for teens at the library, located at 11925 Bowman Green Dr.

Sale hours:

Friday, March 20 — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 21 — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, March 22 — 1 to 3:30 pm

Payment is by cash or check. Sorry, no credit cards, scanners, or electronic devices.

All proceeds go to benefit the Reston Regional Library and the Fairfax County Public Library system. Book donations and volunteers are always welcome.

For more information, email [email protected] or call to leave a message at 703-829-5467 .

by Karen Goff — February 18, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,368 3 Comments

Reston Regional LibraryNow that the new Fairfax County North County Government Center is getting ready to open on Cameron Glen Drive, the county is taking initial steps to start the process for a new Reston Regional Library as part of the makeover of Town Center North.

Tentative plans for a new library in Reston have been in place since 2012, when voters approved a $25 million library bond, with $10 million of it allocated for a new Reston Regional Library.

The remaining money will fund renovations at Pohick Regional, John Marshall Community and Tysons Pimmit Regional libraries.

A new library plan is set to proceed despite a tumultuous last few years for the county library system. Critics have pointed out that the Fairfax system spends less per capita than any other surrounding jurisdiction; has been caught discarding books rather than recirculating them; slashed its budget; and nearly went ahead with a “beta plan” at Reston Regional and Burke libraries that would have cut staff and resources.

In the County Executive’s FY 2016 Advertised Budget, announced on Tuesday, Fairfax County Public Libraries will receive $27,612,745 —  about 7.7 percent less than in 2015.

A new plan is still in the works, though. Reston Citizens Association group Reston 2020 recently obtained the timeline for the process. Some of the details:

The new library was included in the Comprehensive Plan Amendment that was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2014.

The county is expected to rebuild the library and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter on its current 6-acre site on Bowman Towne Drive, called “Blocks 7 and 8” in county documents.

The county is expected to issue a Request for Proposals from companies interested in developing the new library. The RFP will go through June 2015.

The county is expected to select a developer in September 2015.

Proposals will be for the library and shelter, as well as “additional county uses,” according to the documents.

The RFP will also determine “highest and best use of the land,” in keeping with the Reston Master Plan and construction costs, among other details.

The project will then go through a rezoning, as well as approval process by the county planning commission and board of supervisors.

Last week, a land deal was announced that will allow the Fairfax County Park Authority build a 90,000-square-foot recreation facility at Reston Town Center North, pending public hearings, a park authority board vote and procurance of millions of dollars for construction.

Part of the deal also includes a 2.6-acre Town Greene to be built on the same block as the new North County Government Center on Fountain Drive.

The Reston comprehensive plan amendment says the Town Center North area is “planned for up to a .90 FAR for non-residential uses, which should include office, public, institutional, medical care, hotel, and retail uses, and a minimum of 1,000 residential units. The public uses may include public safety uses, libraries, shelters, schools, a recreation center, government offices, a performing arts center, and institutions of  higher education.”

by Karen Goff — March 18, 2014 at 9:30 am 0

Reston Regional Library In the wake of several years of lean funding and a scrapped “beta plan” in 2013, the Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees plans to ask the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for an additional $1 million for the next fiscal year.

The trustees voted last week to request an additional $1 million that would be used for youth service, staff training and technology upgrades, the Fairfax Times reportsThe board had previously submitted a request for a $1 million increase in its budget for books and other material, aimed at restoring some of the reductions made in leaner budget years.

County Executive Ed Long has allocated $25.7 million for the library system, a slight increase over the fiscal 2014 adopted budget but also a slight decrease in total funding as compared to the amended budget for the current fiscal year.

This is due to one-time money the Board of Supervisors gave to the the library system at the close of fiscal 2013.

The current budget proposal includes $275,000 for library employee pay raises, $250,000 in additional funding for materials (to purchase about 13,000 items) and $61,500 for computer replacement. Long has proposed increasing the materials budget by $250,000 per year over the next four years to reach the $1 million total that the library system requested.

The library system had proposed a “beta plan” for Reston Regional — the busiest branch in the county — and other libraries in 2013. That plan included a new staffing model that suggested getting rid of trained children’s librarians and going to a one-desk staffing system in order to save money.

That was met with protest from library supporters. Ultimately, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors scrapped the plan. The supervisors also were shocked to learn that thousands of books were being thrown away rather than recirculated.

The book dump was discovered by Reston resident Kathy Kaplan, who was honored last week as Reston Citizen’s Association Citizen of the Year for her efforts.

The library trustees are currently looking at new solutions that will cut costs but keep service levels intact.

The $1 million for materials and $1 million for other needs that the Board of Trustees is requesting this year would be in addition to the increased funds already included in Long’s budget, library director Sam Clay told the Fairfax Times.

The $250,000 included in the budget would allow for the purchase of about 13,000 additional items, according to the budget document.

To see the breakdown of the FY 2015 Advertised County Budget, visit the Fairfax County website.

The Board of Supervisors will adopt the budget April 29.

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