Fairfax County, Virginia

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FCPL News and Special Events


Library-related news and special events for you and your family to enjoy. For a full list of events at your library visit our Library Calendar. Stay connected to your library by signing up for a newsletter or following us on social media.

For media queries call Communications Specialist Christina Paladeau at 703-324-8302.

FCPL staff assembles face shields

May 14, 2020
During the COVID-19 library closure, FCPL staff are helping meet Fairfax County’s personal protective equipment needs. By Suzanne S. LaPierre, Virginiana Specialist Librarian at the Virginia Room in City of Fairfax Regional Library Hard at (New) Work What are Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) staff working on while buildings are closed to the public during the pandemic? In addition to continued library-related tasks from taking inventory of the collection to answering customer questions via the Ask Your Library online chat service or email, many FCPL staff members are supporting county and volunteer efforts to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet local needs — including assembling plastic face shields for use by the Fairfax County Health Department and sewing cloth face masks for donation to community nonprofits. Assembling Health Department Face Shields More than 30 FCPL staff members have joined Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) staff in assembling face shields to support the critical work of the county’s Health Department. Virginia Room Librarian Laura Wickstead was among those participating in the face shield project. “It was satisfying and a welcome change,” she said. Describing her part in the assembly process, Wickstead explained how she cut vinyl from a roll like Mylar into long strips, then into smaller rectangles to be trimmed into the shields. She also cut elastic into strips and used an iron to melt a piece snipped from large plastic straw onto the end of them, creating a cap that will not slip through a small hole. “I met some nice folks in NCS and now have faces attached to names for several more library co-workers,” Wickstead added. “And, I didn't look at a computer screen for 24 hours. Bliss.” Led by NCS Technology Program Manager Robert O'Quinn and Emergency & Support Functions Program Manager Chris Scales, the face shield project initially aimed to use some plastic parts created by the library’s 3D printers in combination with purchased components. When the Health Department requested a change in the face shield design, the team pivoted and reorganized to start assembling the PPE with all purchased components. As of last Friday, May 8, the Health Department had received 1,000 face shields produced by this project, with the library and NCS team planning to have 500 more assembled by Friday, May 15. Sewing and Donating Hundreds of Masks Many FCPL staff members are also hand-sewing cloth face masks for local organizations that have requested PPE through Volunteer Fairfax. By the end of this week, library staff will have sewn more than 720 face masks from donated material and delivered them to 10 different local organizations, including Northern Virginia Family Services, Shepherd Center, Diamond Home Health Care and FACETS. Librarian Sharon Okrend has been helping organize this community project for the FCPL team, with Librarian Rebecca Wolff stepping in to help deliver the masks. “I know we have at least 60 more masks that have been finished — there are probably much more,” Wolff said. “People are making them faster than I can deliver, so [FCPL Branch Manager] Sarah Garcia is helping out this week.” The Project is Personal Library Aide Dorothy Lockwood’s first round of sewing during the pandemic produced 26 masks that she gave to her family and co-workers. Then she turned her focus to making masks for FCPL’s donation efforts. “One of the creators and a co-worker, Librarian Sharon Okrend, alerted me to this project,” Lockwood noted. “To date I have sewn 30 masks and donated extra fabric for the project. This has been a huge help in keeping me sane while doing something I love to do.” The fabric donated by Lockwood has included a supply her husband gave her as a gift. “For the first time in years, my husband actually gave me fat quarter fabric packs [quarter-yard cuts of fabric cut wide] for Christmas,” she said. “It just so happened that the fabric was perfect for what is recommended to make masks out of. He was just looking for a stocking stuffer.” Learn More and Get Involved Fairfax County Public Library staff — including those working on the face shield and face mask projects — know that we are stronger when we work together. Learn how you can support and make an impact in our community on the Volunteer Fairfax COVID-19 webpage, which includes an up-to-date list of nonprofit and public volunteer opportunities and donation requests. For the latest dates and details about the library’s COVID-19 closure, read this update on library services during the coronavirus pandemic. Visit the Library Services During Closure guide for information about digital resources, virtual programs and online support available while FCPL branches are closed to the public. Photo captions, from top: Michelle Biwer (FCPL Assistant Branch Manager) and George Cadima (NCS, Technology Center Manager, Yorkville Computer Technology Program) assemble face shields; FCPL Librarian Laura Wickstead assembles face shield components; FCPL Circulation Manager Chahinaz Bouzid assembles face shield components; Staff at Healthworks Northern Virginia’s Herndon Office receive their donation of FCPL-made face masks.

7 Amusing Audiobooks That Show Why Laughter is the Best Medicine

May 11, 2020
Humor can entertain us and lift spirits during difficult life experiences. By Katherine Einspahr, Burke Centre Library Information Assistant  Funny Feels Better If you’ve seen actor John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” (SGN) series on YouTube, you probably found his positive focus and amusing take on current events makes you smile and feel a bit better during these challenging times. In the article “Laughter is the Best Medicine” — found in Gale, one of the databases accessible to Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) cardholders — author Kavita Khajuria explains how, throughout history, humor has been a form of escape. Being able to laugh despite traumatic events prepares us to endure those experiences. Laughter decreases stress hormones, increases infection-fighting antibodies, and can even temporarily relieve pain. Doctors in ancient Greece understood this phenomenon and prescribed trips to comic theatre as part of patients' recovery plans. Amusing Audiobooks What better time than now to test out the healing effects of humor? Here’s a sampling of humorous audiobooks, available for download from FCPL’s catalog. 1. Between Heaven and Mirth Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin looks at how humor can change our lives and lift our spirits. A bestselling author and a Jesuit priest, he understands how our spiritual concerns mesh with our everyday life. He reflects on scriptural passages, lives of saints and spiritual teachings of other traditions to show us how to experience joy. 2. Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America Here for It by R. Eric Thomas, award-winning playwright and creator of Elle's "Eric Reads the News,” hilariously relates how he coped with the contrasts of his formative years and went from feeling like an outsider to a participant in his life. In Entertainment Weekly, Lin-Manuel Miranda calls Thomas "laugh-out-loud funny” and one of his favorite writers. 3. How to Be a Bawse How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh, a.k.a. YouTube’s Superwoman, boldly shares her wacky tips on how to become successful. In addition to working hard, she suggests “being the dumbest” by surrounding yourself with smart people from whom you can learn. She also advises avoiding FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), which distracts you from your goals. 4. Lessons from Lucy Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry reveals how he learned (at age 70) to grow older happily by following his aging dog Lucy’s example. Lucy was adjusting to life’s changes better than he was. As the author and humor columnist began to model his life after her, such as taking on new adventures, Barry found his outlook improving. 5. Nobody Will Tell You This But Me Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb divulges generations of family secrets via the voice of her beloved grandmother, Bobby, who passed away at age 90. A formidable woman who emigrated from Belarus to America in the 1880s, Bobby shares tough-love wisdom such as, “If the earth is cracking behind you, you put one foot in front of the other.” 6. The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy is a humorous, honest account of the disparity between the author’s medical school vision of becoming the perfect doctor and the reality of his internship in a New York hospital. He discovers that his best education comes from those he treats…plus from his unexpected, first-hand experience as a patient. 7. That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy is an eBook, not audiobook, that’s too entertaining to pass up. Fahmy, the illustrator of a popular webcomic and a devout Muslim woman, tells the comical tale of how she traversed a zigzag, chaperoned course through various suitors and eventually found her husband. Move over Jane Austen! Check out these and more humorous titles in FCPL’s digital collection to help lessen your stress by listening to an amusing audiobook or reading a riotous eBook.

Foundation Directory Online Essential logo on home office background

May 6, 2020
Search the Foundation Directory Online Essential Database from Home During Library Closure By Caroline Labbe, Adult Services Librarian, Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library Nonprofits in Need If you, or someone you know, are trying to keep a nonprofit running during the pandemic, then you know that finding sources for grants is more important than ever. Fortunately, Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) is able to offer temporary, remote access to a valuable resource to support that research. Grants Research Then and Now When the library is open and operating normally, three FCPL branches host Grants Research and Training Centers (GRTC). As a Funding Information Network Partner of Candid, FCPL’s GRTC is a community resource for nonprofit organizations, students, artists and other individuals seeking foundation grant opportunities. At the Reston Regional, Sherwood Regional and Tysons-Pimmit Regional branches, patrons can access Candid’s Foundation Directory Online (FDO) Professional database using either public computers or their own laptops or tablets connected to the library’s public Wi-Fi. While branches and their GRTCs are closed to the public due to COVID-19, Candid has graciously made a scaled-down version of FDO — FDO Essential — available to remote users through FCPL’s website at On that webpage you can watch a short video for an introduction to using FDO Essential, then use the link just above the video to access the database. What Does the Database Offer? FDO Essential provides detailed information about foundations that fund nonprofits, recipients of past grants, geographical areas where grants have been awarded, typical dollar amounts for grants, grant recipients, and much more. The database also has a live chat feature and a help section. Try out FDO Essential from home now, then access the full FDO Professional version once the library and its Grants Research and Training Centers at Reston Regional, Sherwood Regional and Tysons-Pimmit Regional branches reopen.

My Perfect Read logo with photos

April 27, 2020
Discover your new favorite book with the library’s personalized recommendation service. By Kylie Sparks, FCPL My Perfect Read Advisor  There has never been a better time to read than now, when so many people are stuck at home. But an oft-raised question can continue to vex bookworms and occasional readers alike: What to read? Everyone goes through dry spells — times of wandering aimlessly through stacks of books, not sure which one to pick up next. While physically browsing libraries and bookstores is not possible right now, the digital library is always open, and librarians are here to help you find your next favorite book. A Personalized Recommendation Service Fairfax County Public Library’s My Perfect Read advisory service features more than 15 librarians ready to offer you one-on-one, online support in your search for that next page-turner. Think of My Perfect Read as your concierge to the world of books. Start by browsing the advisors’ profiles, which include links to online copies of their favorite books. When you find one with similar taste to yours, you can request personalized recommendations by filling out a short form; just share the names of a few books that you enjoyed or the types of books that you generally like or dislike. What’s Your Reading Pleasure? Do you love historical biographies, fantasy adventures or romance? Or perhaps narrative nonfiction, LGBT, audiobooks, cookbooks, mysteries, science fiction or classics is your go-to. How about books for the child who only likes books about dragons? Whichever genre you prefer, there’s a librarian who shares your taste in books and would be thrilled to help you find your next read. Even if you don’t find an exact match in the advisors’ profiles, all our librarians are skilled at finding readalikes. You can request books from multiple advisors or return to the same advisor for additional recommendations. But I’ve Lost My Library Card If your library card has expired or you have never borrowed eBooks or audiobooks online, don’t worry. You can access all of FCPL’s online resources and read or listen to books on your cell phone, tablet or even your desktop computer using a temporary digital card. We are happy to help you with online account access and card registration; just contact us through the Ask Your Library online chat service. Happy Readers, Happy Librarians If there is one thing librarians love more than reading, it is helping other people find books to read. Don’t hesitate to try My Perfect Read — we can’t wait to help find yours! During the COVID-19 closure My Perfect Read concierge advisors are still available, and all recommendations will be from our eBook and eAudiobook collections.

5 Historical Pandemic Books

April 24, 2020
Put current experiences into perspective — and find hope through stories of survival and adaptation. By Katherine Einspahr, Burke Centre Library Information Assistant Masks, gloves, social distancing and quarantine all seem both new and increasingly familiar to us now. Yet these concepts and their effects on us both physically and emotionally would be just as recognizable to the people of past centuries who suffered through epidemics. Some comfort during this difficult time can come from realizing that throughout history our ancestors survived similar mass-scale disease outbreaks. Individuals and societies were changed, often metamorphosing into a new normal. Reading about the past can help us put our current experiences into perspective, and it can show us how former generations endured, survived and sometimes even thrived on new paths. The five titles below do just that, spanning from prehistoric plagues through epidemics of the 21st century—and they’re all available as eBooks or audiobooks in Fairfax County Public Library’s digital collection. #1 - Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Panic of 1918 Author Albert Marrin tells about one of the worst pandemics in history, which infected about 500 million people worldwide and killed one-fifth of them. Discover why it was dubbed the Spanish flu, even though it is thought to have initially made its appearance on a military base in Kansas. Vivid vintage photos augment this fascinating account. #2 - Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic Three-time National Magazine Award winner David Quammen explains how animal diseases transfer to humans, detailing how a growing human population, environmental destruction, and technology all contribute to ripe conditions for these zoonotic diseases spreading quickly. #3 - The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History This New York Times Bestseller by John M. Barry goes in depth into the 1918 Spanish flu. This pandemic was the first in which science played a major role, and the book explores why the strongest weapon against pandemic is the truth. The author concludes, "The final lesson of 1918, a simple one yet one most difficult to execute, is that... those in authority must retain the public's trust. The way to do that is to distort nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one.” #4 - Outbreak: Plagues That Changed History Author Bryn Barnard delves into how past epidemics, like the black death, tuberculosis and yellow fever, altered the course of history. Explicit details along with the revelation of medical discoveries bring history to life for young adults. #5 - Pandemics: Deadly Disease Outbreaks Author Michelle Denton describes past pandemics and work that is being done to prepare for handling future ones. Full-color photographs and in-depth sidebars provide young adult readers the opportunity to hear different sides of the issue and reach their own conclusions. If you are interested in learning from history in order to consider how to move forward during and after COVID-19, search “pandemic” in FCPL’s OverDrive collection to find more digital titles on the subject. The first eBooks and audiobooks shown might be already checked out, but you can place a hold using your library card number to reserve some for future reading. Or select “Available now” in the left menu to see only items currently available for download.

Julia Child

April 22, 2020
Learn or expand baking skills with Julia Child's videos, and feel a little better. By Andrea Spira, Great Falls Library Branch Manager Benefits of Baking It has long been acknowledged that the act of baking has meditative and therapeutic effects on the mind and spirit. Measuring, mixing, kneading, monitoring progress — all take patience, require attention, and thrive in an atmosphere of calm. Bakers have to be present in the moment; they have to be mindful. Baking gives us a sense of control in times when we feel out of control. And it is a creative process usually resulting in something delicious that feeds and nourishes the people we care about, providing a sense of accomplishment and purpose. America’s National Stay-at-Home Pastime It seems today’s at-home, self-isolating America has embraced the Zen of baking. In particular, bread baking and the edible, carbohydrate comfort it affords in uncertain times. This baking surge makes perfect sense. We are home. We have time. We are stressed. We are worried. We have to feed ourselves and our loved ones. We want to feel better. Baking provides an outlet for those feelings and energy, helping center the mind and promote a sense of calm. Brag photos and videos of rustic golden-brown homemade loaves are popping up everywhere online, from Facebook and Instagram to YouTube and Twitter. Virtual communities are forming around how to make your own sourdough starter, and neighborhood supermarket yeast alerts are now a thing because, as Americans head into the kitchen, yeast is flying off the shelves almost as fast as toilet paper. What to do? People are baking and people are sharing, but that all-important yeast is hard to find! Bake with Julia Child Fortunately, baking isn’t restricted to crusty loaves. Yeast or no yeast, baking’s therapeutic benefits are only a click away. Fairfax County Public Library cardholders can join the craze by taking a master class in baking under the tutelage of America’s favorite at-home chef, Julia Child. Log in to FCPL’s online resource Access Video on Demand: Master Collection with your library card number to explore all 16 episodes of Julia’s iconic series, Baking with Julia. Stream one episode or binge them all. Episodes include: Pecan Sticky Buns and Brioche Pockets with Julia and Nancy Silverton; Sicilian X Cookies and Focaccia with Julia and Nick Malgieri; and Muffins, Scones, Soda Bread and Popovers with Julia Marion Cunningham. So get baking, Fairfax County! Join America and Julia, and let the Zen of baking help you feel just a little bit better. If you’re in need of more inspiration, instruction and recipes, turn to the digital cookbooks in the library’s collection. Access Video on Demand: Master Collection offers thousands of videos from around the world, including: Oscar, Emmy, and Peabody Award-winning documentaries; how-to programs that make life easier and richer; top-quality performances spanning the arts; biographies of history-makers past and present; and more.

Man writing in journal with camera, tablet and phone on table

April 21, 2020
Stay engaged while staying home by creating and collecting personal and historical records of the pandemic experience. By Suzanne S. LaPierre, Virginiana Specialist Librarian at the Virginia Room in City of Fairfax Regional Library We are living through an unusual time, one on which future generations will look back with wonder. What primary sources will people of the future use to understand what life was like during the COVID-19 pandemic? Primary sources include original artifacts, documents, manuscripts, images, recordings and other sources of information created during the time period studied. They are firsthand evidence of events. While stay-at-home orders are in place, creating and collecting primary source material can be an engaging activity as well as a resource for future use. Keeping a journal, taking photographs or interviewing others for an oral history project are activities that can be engaged in by people of almost any age. Here are five ideas, including some tips for involving children.  1. Journals Individuals still working in the community, whether as medical personnel or grocery store clerks, will have unique narratives to illuminate these times. Those staying home can write from their perspectives as well. It may seem dull now, but someday we’ll reminisce about which items were most in-demand at the store and what kind of community activities we engaged in to keep socially active while physically distant. What did we do to help others? Sew masks, foster pets or deliver groceries to older neighbors? What thoughts and concerns did we have? Children can start by answering these questions: How does it feel attending school remotely rather than being in a classroom? Are you playing new games, or learning to play old games differently, since staying at home? What have you learned from spending more time with family members? 2. Photographs A number of community and worldwide photography projects have emerged from the pandemic. A Facebook group called “View from my window” shares scenes from the windows of people staying home around the world. Images reveal once-crowded streets and beaches now empty and wildlife such as kangaroos and deer — emboldened by lack of traffic — lounging in people’s yards. The #FrontStepsProject involves local photographers capturing images of neighbors posing in front of their homes (at a safe distance, of course). Families may appear in pajamas, dressed up in formalwear, or even in costume. Typically, the family photographed donates to a good cause in exchange for the portrait, and photos are shared on social media to promote a sense of community.  Children might start by photographing the teddy bears on display in many neighborhoods as part of an activity inspired by the picture book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. Neighborhoods in at least thirteen countries are participating in the Bear Hunt by posing teddy bears in their windows. Children going for walks with their families spot and count the bears, and there is a Facebook group for sharing photos. 3. Participatory Archiving Local archives are busy collecting material related to this unique time. In Real Time is a project of the DC History Center. Participate in surveys and learn how your journals, videos, artwork and sound recordings can help document aspects of the pandemic. The Virginia Museum of History and Culture is also collecting Your COVID-19 Stories. Children as well as adults can contribute text or videos to these projects. At least one local elementary school class is creating journals to donate to Fairfax County Public Library’s Virginia Room. 4. Art Write a song, draw, paint or dance... There are many ways to use this emotional time as a springboard for creativity. Consider contributing creative output to one of the community archiving projects listed above. The Quarantine Family Tool Kit, created by The American Art Therapy Association, includes art project ideas for children and teens. 5. Collecting Consider which artifacts from the present might help illustrate this chapter in history. Museum professionals call this “material culture” — and objects can reveal details beyond words. Home-sewn masks, signs and cards made to cheer on first responders and medical staff, or a labeled bottle from one of the local distilleries that switched from making alcohol to hand sanitizer are some items that could be included. Children might use these items to create a scrapbook, a time capsule, or what was once called a “cabinet of curiosities.” Then seal it up and imagine looking back on the 2020 pandemic as a thing of the past! Share Your Experiences with Us Be part of the Virginia Room's historic project to collect primary source material regarding Fairfax County residents' experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to submit your stories, photographs, journal entries, short video clips, art images, or other digital files. Due to the significant interest in the project and the ongoing nature of the pandemic situation, the Virginia Room has removed the original deadline of June 10 for submissions and extended the collection period indefinitely to provide community members more time to participate. The Virginia Room is a special collection of history and genealogical resources within Fairfax County Public Library.  For more at-home activity ideas and resources, check out our Top 10 Ways to FCPL at Home and our Digital Programs and Online Activities for all ages — from early literacy storytimes for preschoolers and scavenger hunts and digital events for school-age kids and teens, to virtual book clubs and financial wellness workshops for adults. 




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