Dolley Madison Library Slated for Major Improvements

Dolley Madison Library Slated for Major Improvements

Larger facilities, more books and better technology planned for McLean community library.

There has been a great deal of growth and change in McLean since Dolley Madison Library opened its doors in September of 1967. Now the community library is getting the chance to catch up with its users.

"The library is totally inadequate in terms of its size, as far as the community that it serves," said Katayoon Shaya, project manager with the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

The renovation and expansion of Dolley Madison Library was part of the library bond program which was approved by voters in 2004. In addition to the building improvements, the county is also looking into moving the office of the Dranesville District Supervisor from its current location at the McLean District Police Station on Balls Hill Road, into the library.

"Right now the police department is slated for its own review for renovation and expansion as well," said Shaya.

Moving the supervisor's office would allow for further expansion and better facilities at the police station. The Dolley Madison project is approximately 30 percent into its design phase, and construction is scheduled to begin one year from now.

"We are looking at library completion and moving in by mid-fall of 2008," said Shaya.

Although the library has undergone general maintenance and improvements over the years, this will be the first major change to the structure. It is currently approximately 10,000 square feet, but will be 19,000 square feet when the expansion is complete. Planned improvements include a quiet study room, a larger community meeting space, technology upgrades, larger circulation and information desks, a larger children's area and a larger staff area.

"I don't think we are bringing in any new programs as much as expanding and updating what is already there," said Shaya.

CAROLYN HEYER, BRANCH MANAGER for Dolley Madison Library, said she is particularly pleased about the quiet study room as it is something that library staff is asked for quite frequently.

"Because we are small and crowded, when we do user surveys, it's not infrequent that people say, ‘I love the library but it's too noisy,’" said Heyer.

According to Heyer, the library improvements are based on research gathered by the library system.

"Over the years as we have built new buildings, the library system has put together a list of what we call best practices," she said. "Those are elements that have been used in previous buildings that have worked well."

The library collection will also increase with the added space.

"Right now our collection is around 83,000 and the new facility will have a collection of 100,000," said Heyer.

The new building will also enable the library to more than double its Internet and catalogue access points. Shaya said the library will also be designed using principles of Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

"So it will be a ‘green’ building," said Shaya. "It will be low impact development."