Learn about the many facets and faces of FCPL and our community — one story at a time.
Introducing the newest Branch Out feature! In this “Our Library, Our Stories” section, you’ll find interviews with, personal narratives from, and articles about FCPL staff and users. With a county and a library system as large as ours, it’s especially important to highlight the individual experiences, unique backgrounds, and many diverse voices within them. So, we’re putting the spotlight on one person’s story about life and the library in each issue with the hope that it helps us all get to know and connect with each other just a little bit better. Our first story comes to us as an interview with FCPL staff member Aliya Parvez.
Youth Services Librarian | Tysons-Pimmit Regional
Q. What are your favorite genres to read or to help library users explore? Why?
A. My favorite genres are realistic present day or historical fiction novels (but not about kings and queens) — books that can almost turn me into one of their characters for a few days, like those by Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel. I also like Rosamunde Pilcher, Rachel Joyce, and all of Chris Bohjalian’s books.
Q. How long have you worked at FCPL, and how would you summarize what you do?
A. I have worked for FCPL for 26 years, in six different branches. I started as a page, then a library aide in circulation, and then an information assistant. In 2013, I got my Master of Library Science degree. I am a children’s librarian now, so I primarily do storytimes, create crafts for Take and Make programs, and set up seasonal displays of books.
When I’m at the information desk, I help visitors find books or place holds and answer their questions. Infrequently I get an unusual one, like when someone from another state called to say he was interested in a news report about a man who was murdered in a house in Falls Church, Virginia. Since we [at the Tysons-Pimmit Regional branch] are located in Falls Church, he wanted to know what information we had. The incident had taken place in the ‘70s, and I did what I could to help: googled the information, sent him the link, and asked him to call the Virginia Room if he wanted more details.
Q. How do you spend your free time?
A. When I’m not working, I look after my home and spend time with my family and friends. I also read books and watch a lot of movies on online platforms. I am a new grandmother, and my mother has gone blind, so I support organizations that take up children’s causes and fight blindness.
Q. Tell us about your background. Where did you grew up and go to school? What did you study?
A. I was born in Bangladesh and came to the U.S. in 1981 at the age of 23 after having completed my bachelor’s degree in English Literature and getting married. I had my first two children by 1985, and, when they were a little older, I worked for a Hallmark store. I gave that up to get an associate degree in marketing from NOVA [Northern Virginia Community College]. After that I had my third child, and, when he was 3, I started volunteering at the library. FCPL has been my second home since then.
Q. Did you have experience with the library or library staff when you were growing up? What attracted you to or inspires your work at the library?
A. I certainly did not have much experience using the library. Where I grew up most libraries were academic, and I do not remember ever going to the only public library. But my father had a huge collection of books — close to a thousand. I credit all my background knowledge of the western world and culture to those books, from the classics in literature to art and history books and torrid novels of the ‘50s. We would be gifted with books when we were little, and I read a lot of abridged classics in book and comic book form.
Q. Is there a particular moment or memory from your time with FCPL that stands out for you?
A. When I first became a full-time employee as a circulation aide at Herndon Fortnightly Library, I helped set up that branch in a new building. It was an enormous task, but I loved every moment of it. I felt proud being part of the group that set up the branch and really felt like it was ours. That feeling was wonderful.
Q. What is the last book you read? The first? The worst? Tell us a few all-time favorites, too.
A. The last book I read was Tarryn Fisher’s The Wrong Family… and it has put the fear in me of leaving my door open accidently. The first novel I ever read was probably Little Woman when I was about 11. Before that I read a lot of abridged classics. I love books that have a mystery aspect to them, and Diane Setterfield, Kate Morton and Paula Hawkins are some of my favorite authors.
Q. What attracted you to or inspires your work at the library?
A. My inspiration are my coworkers who are so good with our users. I love answering questions from children, but my favorite library visitor was an elderly man who would come to the Patrick Henry Library. He once asked me if I knew what my name meant, and, after I gave him my answer, he expanded on it by explaining the relevance and even said a little prayer about it. He was a very interesting person. Other staff who knew him better told me that he played a huge role in fighting racism in Vienna, Virginia.
Q. Do you have a favorite program, service or resource offered by FCPL? Why?
A. My favorite programs are children’s storytimes. Children are our best customers, and storytimes are some of the most sought-after programs. When we host them in person, we have a room full of eager children — sometimes to the point that we’ve had to turn families away due to capacity. Now when I do virtual storytimes the registration fills up really quickly, too. So you know there is a great need for these programs.
Q. You’re hosting a dinner party. Which three people, living or dead, would you invite, and why?
A. If Shakespeare could come, I would ask him if he really wrote those plays. I would ask a couple of my friends who believe in ghosts and time traveling. They would be so impressed!
Q. Tell us something you are proud of and why.
A. I am proud of my three children. I have a wonderful relationship with them. And I am very fond of my little library users who ask such interesting questions when I tell them a story. The fact that I was able to hold their attention is always an achievement!
Q. Is there anything else you would like to share?
A. I think how the public library system has evolved is worth talking about. At the beginning of my career, it seemed like it was all about books. I would religiously walk the shelves and try to remember what was where, which books were new and what genre they were. Now we do not always see the new books, because cardholders can see them online and place holds as soon as they are added to the catalog. I remember I first saw a physical copy of Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing almost a year after it came out. The copies were [effectively] just being passed from one reader to another.
Also, we do other things more at the library now. We are helping visitors with the copier or with the internet or booking meeting rooms; some days those jobs take precedence over reader’s advisory and sleuthing for books.