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Book Buying Ahead for Burke Library

New library is scheduled to open in 2008.

Book buying for the Burke Centre Library will begin later this year, if the necessary funds can be set aside in July, when the fiscal year 2005 "carryover" budget process begins.

"A lot of people will be asking for it, so we’ll march down there as we did before, and make our pitch for using some of it for the library," said Pat Riedinger, president of the Friends of Burke Centre Library group, which conducted its annual meeting on Wednesday, April 13. At the meeting, the group, and any interested members of the community, heard updates from Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) and Sam Clay, director of the Fairfax County Library Board.

The Friends of the Burke Centre Library organization, which acts as a "booster club" of sorts, has been in place since 2002. Since no library currently exists, the group is mainly working to raise money for additions to the library's collection and other special projects.

Construction on the Burke Centre Library — located near the intersection of Freds Oak Road and the Fairfax County Parkway — will be completed in two phases, with the construction of the actual building not scheduled to begin until fall of 2006. According to Clay, the book buy for the library, which is financed by Fairfax County, must begin at least two years prior to the library opening.

"A major asset of any library is its collection," said Clay, who pointed out that building the library's 70,000-volume collection will take some time.

"Every book we acquire we have to get, to catalogue, to go onto the shelf," he said.

THE COST of the book buy for the library will be $3.5 million. Instead of including that cost in the third quarter of the 2005 budget, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chose to defer the cost until the county closes its books for 2005 in July, and seek to use carryover money for the cost of the collections.

"At third quarter, all those revenues which were materializing are recurring revenues. That kind of revenue can be used for a recurring expense, and one of those recurring things is for reducing the real estate tax rate," said Bulova.

"Our philosophy was let’s not spend that money on third quarter."

Instead, said Bulova, she believes the county will be able to safely appropriate the $3.5 million needed for Burke Centre, and a new library opening in Oakton, later this year. The remainder of the operating money won't need to be in place until shortly before the library opens, in the spring of 2008.

Through an agreement with Virginia Railway Express (VRE), construction will begin on the Burke Centre Library parking lot in January 2006, so that when work begins on the new VRE lot off Roberts Road later that year, displaced motorists can park at the Burke Centre Library lot.

"Both facilities are scheduled to begin and end at about the same time. It occurred to all of us that you can have a library under construction and a finished parking lot if you started with a parking lot first," said Bulova, who said the solution won't solve all the headaches associated with the construction at the VRE lot, which is scheduled to be complete by March 2008, but that it would accommodate many of the commuters.

The funds to build the new Burke Centre Library were acquired through the November 2004 library bond referendum for $52.5 million, which Fairfax County voters passed. The construction schedule for the 17,000-square-foot facility was pushed back briefly when Fairfax County staff considered using the entire library lot for interim VRE parking, but has scratched that idea, only focusing on using the parking lot for its needs.

"The board and I are very pleased with the timetable, with getting the library back on track. There was a while where it seemed to be delayed, so we're glad to back on track. I think we're moving expeditiously," said Clay.