Cutting the ribbon in celebration of Reston Regional Library’s 30th birthday from left: Sharon Harmon, event co-chair, Roxanne Hughes, vice president Friends of Reston Regional Library, state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32), Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), Pat Hynes, Hunter Mill School Board member, Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, library director Sam Clay, and America Reichel, event co-chair.
Photo by Andrea Worker.
Anybody remember that old ditty “It’s the latest, it’s the greatest, it’s the Library”? Well there must be a few who still relate to that sentiment, because despite rather soggy weather conditions, hundreds turned out on Saturday, Oct. 3, to kick off the month-long celebration of the Reston Regional Library’s (RRL) 30th Anniversary. The children were lined up from the minute the doors opened to enjoy a “Halloween Rocks” program. For those younger patrons, the fun continued with face and mehndi painting, balloon artists and a “Maker Station,” where children and parents were both seen creating some colorful and unique bookmarks and “helping hands” cutouts.
The event was co-sponsored by the volunteer organization Friends of the Reston Regional Library. The group raises money throughout the year to support the library and help bring quality programs and resources to the community. Their numerous contributions include paying for a new Wi-Fi station, heat-reducing film for the large front windows, a noise-suppressing system and even sprinklers and landscaping services for the library’s surroundings. At the anniversary, the Friends were out in force, primarily manning an information booth and handling “prize-central,” where they passed out raffle tickets for items ranging from books and toys to Kindle Fires and iPad Minis.
IN THE MIDST of all the organized chaos, library staff calmly went about the business of assisting patrons, re-shelving books and continuing regular Saturday offerings like the “Tech Help Desk” that Dianne Coan has run as a volunteer for the last seven years. Every one of the large-screen computer stations was occupied with patrons engaged in casual browsing, serious searches, games and even checking emails. In the semi-quiet of the periodical section, several patrons were happily reading the day’s newspapers or checking out the impressive collection of magazines available.
At 1 p.m., after a welcome by RRL branch manager Daria Parnes, local dignitaries, including Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Hunter Mill District supervisor Cathy Hudgins, state senator Janet Howell (D-32), and Fairfax County library director Sam Clay, each took a few moments to comment on the history of the Reston Regional Library and its ever-increasing importance to the people it serves. “It’s the hub of our community,” said Howell. Bulova noted that one of the library’s keys to success was its ability to evolve with the community, and Hudgins added that the system, the amazing staff, and the corps of volunteers “keep in touch and up with the community’s needs.”
Hudgins and Clay alluded to changes on the horizon for the library. While there are no plans yet on the books for a redevelopment, there has already been plenty of discussion and preparation. “It’s in keeping with the redevelopment of this whole part of Reston,” said library director Clay. “We’re looking forward now to another adventure. Our goal is to have the world’s finest urban library.”
The Reston Regional Library has certainly grown from humble beginnings. First came the Carter Glass mini-library at Lake Anne in 1966, then a mini-library at Hunters Woods Plaza in 1974, before the facility at 11925 Bowman Towne Drive became a reality in 1985. Joan Bissell remembers those early days, and has been working at the current facility since day one. Have things changed a lot since then? “Oh, yes,” she laughs. “I remember when we had to take all of our reserves on index cards and then search through them to find one…or how about when we wanted to get books for someone from another branch? We had to send postcards for those requests. Now we can instantly make requests, and many items are even available as ebooks that can be downloaded.”
Bissell and others, like Brian Jacoby, president of the Friends of the Reston Regional Library and cohort Eileen Evon, all agree that the library’s ability to keep pace with advances in technology are among the greatest changes and greatest accomplishments of these last thirty years. “But it’s not about just having the latest and greatest just to have them,” said Evon. “It means being able to provide access to so many resources for so many members of our community.”
Although circulation manager America Reichel is a relative newbie to the system and is too young to have been a part of the early days of the RRL, it’s her belief that one of the best changes in the operation of the library is in its outreach into the community, as well as the evolution of the atmosphere of the library. Reichel cites library outreach programs for elementary schools as one example, and describes the library vibe as “more like a Starbucks attitude, very welcoming. I think we act more like facilitators now, bringing people and resources and the information they need together.”
“The library has become a vital place, an extension of the community,” was branch manager Daria Parnes opinion on how the library has advanced over the years. “It’s great,” agreed Evon, “that so often when new people come into the area, they start getting acquainted with their new home by coming to the library to get the important information they need and to start making connections.”
Anniversary Events - Registration Required
Oct. 10 - 3 p.m.: Uno, Dos Tres
Oct. 11 - 2 p.m.: Guitarist Michael Negro
Oct. 14 - 7 p.m.: Classic Cinema
Oct. 20 - 7 p.m.: Book Club
Oct. 24 - 11 a.m.: Learn to Draw Zombies
Oct. 24 - 7 p.m.: Mystery Night Theatre
Oct. 26 - 7 p.m.: Halloween Scavenger Hunt
If there was the slightest hint of a somber note at the RRL birthday festivities, it was the absence of someone who should have been a guest of honor at this community facility that was built on, and continues to express, the Reston Model of a place to “Live, Work, and Play” for everyone. Reston founder Robert E. Simon, Jr. passed away on Sept. 21 at the age of 101. “He was planning to be here,” said RLL staffer Patricia Dary. “He loved the library. He is really going to be missed.”
AFTER A ROUSING group sing-a-long of “Happy Birthday” was conducted by Friends of the Reston Regional Library’s vice president Roxanne Hughes, the crowd was treated to refreshments and a super-sized birthday cake in the library’s meeting room. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Activities are planned throughout the month of October to keep the celebratory spirit going. Some of the events require registration so check out their website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library, or stop by the library for more information.