In 1889, Fortnightly Club was a private library open only to privileged residents. But now, the 60,000 books at the Herndon Fortnightly Public Library, 768 Center St., are available to everyone.
Following a long relationship, community requests prompted the Fairfax County Public Library to take control of the Fortnightly Club. Long after 11 women founded the private club, the branch on Center Street opened in May 1995 after Fairfax County approved a $39.1 million improvement plan that funded construction of new libraries in several locations.
The award-winning architecture at the Fortnightly branch houses various services besides literature. The computer stations allow library-goers to use the Internet for 30-minute time slots or search the extensive research databases that the library subscribes to.
BRANCH MANAGER Linden Renner said that during the summer the library tries to focus on children, ages 6 to 12. The summer reading program, June 18 through Sept. 4, gives children the incentive to read with the chance to win a coupon booklet. Students in grades seven through 12 must read eight books and preschoolers through sixth grade, 15 books. Assistant branch manager Tommie Cason said that the number of participants is in the thousands.
In addition, children ages 6 through 12 have other opportunities that include watching The Maryland Science Center’s flight presentation or learning how to draw funny faces in a drawing workshop.
For those preschool-age children not quite ready for reading on their own, the library offers stories, activities and crafts several days throughout July and August.
All activities are free but require registration.
OUTSIDE OF THE SUMMER MONTHS the library holds organized story time for small children. Other clubs, not necessarily sponsored by the library, use the location for meetings.
Renner said that because of the diverse staff at Fortnightly, eight languages are spoken, including Spanish, Urdu, Hindi and Russian. Many of the materials found at the library, such as the library-card application, are translated into other languages.
"We try to always be a part of the community," said Renner.
Residents from the community are welcome to exhibit any collection in the library's display case. In addition to artwork and dinosaurs, Renner said that one young lady offered her collection of erasers.