Virginia Room is Fairfax Library System’s Research Lab

Virginia Room is Fairfax Library System’s Research Lab

Many family historical mysteries are uncovered here.

The authentic signs set the mood for historical research.

The authentic signs set the mood for historical research.

There was a Russian defector that wrote a book about his journey to the United States, and a local archivist found his book at a thrift store, spurring an investigation that led to the Virginia Room in the main library. She uncovered more about the man. “He died in Springfield, a really bizarre story,” said Chris Barbuschak, a research librarian in the Virginia Room who helped uncover the mystery. It was just one of the many historical gems unearthed in this important source on this region's history. “We drill a little deeper,” Barbuschak said.
The Virginia Room is a study lab of sorts


More recently, a woman came in to find information on her Revolutionary War ancestor, and it was a success. “We were able to find the pension record from 1814,” Barbuschak  said. “We get all kinds of stories like that.” 

All this local history is stored in one form or another in Fairfax County Public Library's Virginia Room, where the county maintains a collection of regional history and genealogy, as well as local and state government information and legal resources. Staff collect the historical records of the people, associations, events and places of Fairfax County, Virginia. There are maps, an extensive photographic archive, manuscript collections, local newspapers, and rare books. Recently they were able to digitize a newspaper called “The Fairfax Herald,” and now have issues on microfilm from 1886-1964.

The Virginia Room is an open, second floor room in the library that looks kind of like a loft due to the fact that it is open to the first floor. There are sections for periodicals, microfilm and historical books. The room is decorated by historical signs hanging on the walls to give a real historic feel for the place, including Thelma’s Ice Cream from Great Falls.

Although there is much that the user can access by themselves, going to the front desk and asking a specialist is usually the first step. 

“Each one of us has our own expertise,” Barbuschak said. 

Much of the material is on the shelves,but they do have a rare book room, temperature controlled for fragile materials. 

On an inquiry about family cemetery records, for instance, reference material had to be retrieved from the back room. “More of our special collection,” Barbuschak said.

The Virginia Room is on the second floor of The City of Fairfax Regional Library.

10360 North Street

Fairfax, VA, 22030-2514

703-293-6227 option 6 | TTY: 711

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Restoring the Fairfax Herald is one of the more recent projects.