How Herndon Fortnightly Got Its Name


Herndon Fortnightly Library had its beginnings as a club library. In 1889, eleven women in the village of Herndon formed a study club dedicated to "the mutual improvement of its members in literature, art, science and the vital interests of the day." They called it the Fortnightly Club because they decided to meet once every two weeks.

Members and friends gathered a basic collection of 40 books to use for research. By 1900, the club opened its library of over 1,000 books to the public in a rented room in the downtown area. The club broadened its scope by becoming affiliated with the General Federation of Women's Clubs in 1912, although its primary focus was providing library service to Herndon. The town and the Fortnightly Library suffered a setback in 1917 when much of Herndon, including the library's collection, was destroyed by fire. However, less than a year later, the club once again had 1,000 books on its shelves.

In 1926, years of fund-raising efforts built up a library building fund which resulted in the construction of a cream-colored brick library at 660 Spring Street in 1927. The library was staffed by Fortnightly Club volunteers, funded by donations, fund-raisers, and fees for library cards. This building is pictured in the painting that hangs over the elevator door on the current library's second floor.

The Fairfax County Public Library was established in 1939, and began a relationship with the Fortnightly Library and other small community libraries by sending rotating collections of books. Following community requests to establish a branch in Herndon, the Fairfax County Public Library took over the operation of the Herndon library. The Fortnightly Club offered to lease the library building to the county. A deal was struck, and on March 7, 1972, the Herndon Fortnightly Library opened.

In 1989, Fairfax County voters approved a $39.1 million capital improvement bond referendum which included funding for new libraries in Centreville, Chantilly, Great Falls, and Herndon. The new Herndon Fortnightly Library on Center Street opened in May 1995, the "Fortnightly" name being kept in honor of the many years the Club operated the library with a volunteer staff. Members of the Fortnightly Club continue to maintain a close relationship with the library and its staff, supporting the library and its services with volunteer labor, gifts, and donations. The Fortnightly Club is a sponsor of the library's annual Open House, a tradition dating back to the branch's Spring Street days, as well as other library activities throughout the year.

For More Information:

Fortnightly Club and Library Association of Herndon, Virginia. The Fortnightly Club and Library Association of Herndon: The First Hundred Years, 1889-1989. Herndon, Virginia: The Fortnightly Club, 1989.

Netherton, Nan. Books and Beyond: Fairfax County Public Library's First Fifty Years. Fairfax, Virginia: Fairfax County Public Library, 1989.


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