Fairfax County, Virginia

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Fairfax, VA 22035

Jessica Hudson,

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12 LGBTQ+ Books for Tweens

Love Looks Better in Color

Celebrate Pride Month with Recommended Reads for Ages 10-14 Available in Fairfax County Public Library’s Digital Collection.

By Rebecca Takacs, FCPL Youth Services Librarian

As tweens in grades five through eight approach young adulthood, many seek good reads with fresh and relevant stories. For kids reaching that age today, queer characters are showing up more and more in award winning books. One reason for the popularity of these LGBTQ+ books is that they include a diverse range of individuals, providing tweens and teens the chance to see themselves in the pages of a book — or to experience lives different from their own.

Reading experts say it is critical that teens, tweens and children of all ages be exposed to "mirror" books — books that reflect something familiar to them. Reading about characters who look, sound or act the way they do feeds a sense of self-worth. To understand the world around them, kids should also read "window" books — books that show them people, places or perspectives they might not otherwise encounter or learn about. Beyond providing a "mirror" or "window," a good book must also offer an entertaining story.

This list features 12 titles that are fun, new, critically acclaimed, and centered on LGBTQ+ characters. All of these fiction books are recommended for ages 10-14, published in 2019-2020, and available as eBooks in Fairfax County Public Library's digital collections.

1. The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy

Rahul, a gay indian-american boy, wants to be the best at something. In this charming story he navigates middle school and the search to discover who he is.

2. Hazel's Theory of Evolution by Jisa Jenn Bigelow

Hazel is a book-lover who has to look outside of books for the answers to life's big questions.

3. A Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor

In the midst of upheaval, Lydia is paired with with a stinky, misbehaving pup with a mysterious past. Who is the one being rescued?

4. Martin McLean Middle School Queen by Alyssa Zaczek

Martin is a math whiz with a fabulous drag queen alter-ego. Life is complicated. Can he be brave enough to bring his two worlds together?

5. The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake

Sunny receives a new heart and makes herself a "New Life Plan." Then, as with most good plans, life gets in the way.

6. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Fletcher brothers have a wacky year and come to discover that sometimes what you least expect turns out to be most important.

7. The Moon Within by Aida Salazar

Celi's life is changing along with her body as she looks for the courage to be who she wants to be.

8. Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt

Kate and Tam are a cheerleader and a jock who see beyond the stereotypes to find each other and themselves.

9. Rick by Alex Gino

Rick is a new middle schooler who finds himself questioning old choices and looking for self-worth and acceptance.

10. Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway

Cady has had an unsteady life, but now she's in a place where she wants to belong. When trouble appears, she has to gather herself and her new friends to try to save the day.

11. To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

Will Bett and Avery figure out how to become family? This laugh-out-loud funny story is written by two excellent authors and told completely via emails and letters.

12. The Whispers by Greg Howard

Riley's life is sad. His mother is missing, and he has a secret that others whisper about. This book weaves magic, mystery and the power of wishes into a story about finding your "heart's desires."

More LQBTQIA+ Reads for All Ages

Use these FCPL catalog record sets and OverDrive collection to find more titles featuring LGBTQIA+ characters, subjects and creators:

Mirrors and Windows

To learn more about what the reading experts have to say about "mirrors" and "windows," visit, read Violet J. Harris’ “In Praise of a Scholarly Force: Rudine Sims Bishop” journal article, and take a look at this Diversity in Children’s Books infographic.

Love look better in Color rainbow book covers Read full article June 17, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/Pride%20Month%20Hero.png 1
7 Amusing Audiobooks, Because Laughter is the Best Medicine

7 Amusing Audiobooks That Show Why Laughter is the Best Medicine

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.

7 Amusing Audiobooks That Show Why Laughter is the Best Medicine Read full article May 11, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/audiobooks-laughter-best-medicine.png 1
Find Grants for Nonprofits During the Pandemic

Foundation Directory Online Essential

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.

FDO Essential Website

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.

FDO Essential Demo

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.

Foundation Directory Online Essential logo on home office background Read full article May 6, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/fdo-essential.png 1
The Answer to Your “What do I read next?” Question

My Perfect Read advisors

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

My Perfect Read logoFairfax 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.

My Perfect Read logo with photos Read full article April 27, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/My%20perfect%20read.png 1
5 Historical Pandemic Books You Can Read for Free (Without Leaving Home)

5 Historical Pandemic Books

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

Very, Very, Very Dreadful book cover

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

Spillover book cover

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

The Great Influenza book cover

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

Outbreak book cover

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

Pandemics book cover

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.

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Fairfax County Public Library: Remote Access to Learning Resources

Kids Never Stop Learning

Keep kids and teens engaged with online educational tools and activities while schools are closed.

In this time of school closures, expanded online learning and social distancing, your library is here to provide essential resources and online support. We have tons to offer, and it can all be accessed without even leaving your couch.

The library provides access to dozens of online resources to help school-age kids — and adults — stay in the know, research for remote-learning classes, seek homework help, or just engage in fun and educational activities while at home.

Of course, we also have extensive collections of eBooks and eAudiobooks available through Overdrive, Libby and RBdigital. Right now that includes 130 popular titles we’ve added to a special OverDrive list of eBooks and audiobooks available with no holds and no waits (limit 1 per customer at a time, maximum 2-week checkout, no renewals).

Don't have a library card yet? That's okay. Apply here for access to our digital resources.

Magazines & Newspapers

Online Educational Resources

With Fairfax County Public Schools closed, caretakers and students may want to keep up with learning and incorporate education into their days at home. The public library gives you online access to research materials to complete virtual coursework, support independent studies or simply provide engaging reading content to supplement eBook and audiobook options. Begin with the Education category in our Research Databases list, and dig deeper starting with the examples below — they're just the tip of the iceberg. 

Homework Help

Grades K-6

  • Kid's InfoBits meets the research needs of students in Kindergarten through Grade 5 through a graphic interface, a subject search, and full-text, age-appropriate magazines and newspapers on current events, the arts, science, health, people, government, history, sports and more.
  • NovelList K-8 Plus is a trusted source of read-alike recommendations specifically for younger readers. It helps kids find books that are just right for their reading level and interests.
  • Scholastic Go! provides credible, accurate, reliable content on almost every core-curricula subject with endless resources for research in a multitude of media. Explore nonfiction texts, world newspapers, videos and more with this easy-to-navigate digital resource designed to strengthen content knowledge, vocabulary, and core proficiency skills.

Middle School and High School

  • CQ Researcher offers in-depth, non-biased coverage of current issues. Topics range from social and teen issues to the environment, health, education and science and technology. CQ Researcher explores a single "hot" issue each week.
  • eBook High School Collection (EBSCOhost) offers full text titles with unlimited access designed specifically to support a quality learning experience for High School students across all academic subjects from History, to Language and Literature, to Science & Technology. Also includes ACT and SAT test preparation guides.
  • Gale In Context: High School is an engaging online experience that merges Gale's authoritative and continuously updated reference content with full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites organized into a user-friendly portal experience.
  • Read It! offers a collection of short informative articles on a variety of topics designed for English Language Learners. Text can be translated into more than 25 different languages or read out loud in English.
  • Science in Context, U.S. History in Context, and World History in Context provide contextualized information on hundreds of the most significant subject matter topics.

Homework Related Websites

  • Visit our collection of Homework-Related Websites for even more on subjects from general reference, international information and statistics to biographies, current events, economics, personal finance, government, history, languages, literature, math, science, speeches, Virginia and writing.

Tutoring and Test Prep

Other Learning Resources for Your Family

Enhanced Gale Resources

Gale is currently offering expanded free access to its interdisciplinary, curriculum-aligned resources for pre-K through undergraduate students. You may be prompted to enter these databases with a password. The password for all is "open." 

  • Miss Humblebee's Academy is an interactive kindergarten-readiness program that introduces children ages three to six to key concepts in math, science, social studies, language and literacy, art, and music. 
  • Gale In Context: Middle School combines reference content with age-appropriate videos, newspapers, magazines, primary sources, and more.
  • Gale In Context: College offers interdisciplinary content that reinforces the development of skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation.
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Celebrate the Season of Renewal: Read the Spring Issue of Branch Out Magazine
Please Note: All Fairfax County Public Library branches are closed until further notice, and all library-sponsored events and programs are cancelled through April 12. In the meantime, we still have tons of digital resources available, including the online version of Branch Out magazine! For more information about library services during the closure, visit

photo of Branch Out spring issue with page turning to Teens section on Renewal

Have You Explored Branch Out Magazine?

Branch Out Spring 2020 CoverAvailable in library branches and other public Fairfax County Government locations throughout the county, the library’s quarterly publication is designed to help community members make the most of Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) resources and services. Each quarter features a unique theme through which library events, technology, collections, databases, activities and more can be discovered and explored. Full listings of branch events are available online and in each branch.

The spring 2020 issue of Branch Out magazine — covering March-May — focuses on the many ways people can find inspiration and information for refreshing, rejuvenating and restoring their mind, body and environment using the library’s resources, services and programs.

Keep reading for an introduction to the Branch Out: Renewal content, then view the entire issue online or visit a library branch to pick up a copy of the magazine.

Let Springtime Inspire Renewal in All Facets of Life

Explore self-renewal, renewable resources, seasonal family activities and more with your library.

Spring Sunshine and Science

With added daylight giving us time to get more things done, warmer temperatures encouraging outdoor pursuits, stronger sunlight to help us soak up vitamin D for healthy bones and immune and nervous systems, and blooming flowers offering proven happiness-boosting benefits, it’s no wonder we feel revitalized, re-energized and rejuvenated in the spring. Even though we can pursue renewal, growth and development at any time throughout the year, the earth’s season of rebirth seems to give us extra energy and motivation to get active, take action and create change.

photo collage of spring flowers, gardening, reading, outdoors activitiesStudies have shown that the longer the sun is up during the day and the more time we spend outdoors, the less mental distress and the more creativity we experience. Plus, if your new year’s resolution involved fitness goals, research indicates that people who work out outdoors enjoy the experience more and therefore are more likely to repeat it — so springing into some fresh air activity might help you stick with your exercise regimen. And while taking walks in nature at any time of the year has proven to slow the heart rate and promote relaxation, some research suggests that spring has an even greater effect on the brain. A 2005 study from the University of Michigan linked spending 30 minutes or more outside in warm, sunny spring weather to higher mood and better memory.

Renew More Than Books

Capitalize on this springtime surge of energy and optimism; don’t limit your renewal to only checked-out materials or typical “spring cleaning.” Reengage your mind with self-improvement, mental health, career-oriented and educational resources at the library. Refresh your home and garden with our books on decluttering, framed art lending library and Master Gardener workshops. Recommit to eco-friendly living through upcycling events and zero-waste ideas. Reactivate your body and reach health and fitness goals with StoryWalks, workout DVDs and in-branch classes.

Whichever facets of your life you’re inspired to renew this spring, let the library help you learn the why’s and how’s of pursuing those goals — or help you discover new ideas to explore. Read through this issue of Branch Out to learn about the clubs, programs, materials and other opportunities available to support renewal of your mind, body, environment and more, now and in all seasons of life.

quote about spring cleaning by Margarita Tartakovsky, M. S., Psych Central

Renewal Resources

Throughout the magazine we share many ways you can renew passions, find new ones, jump start creativity, discover new perspectives, learn new skills and more using library resources — starting with the options listed here.


Replenish your news and current events awareness. The library’s US Major Dailies database provides free access to the five most respected U.S. national and regional newspapers, including The New York Times and Washington Post, co-exclusive access to The Wall Street Journal and exclusive access to the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Visit to start reading.

Career and Business

If your 2020 goals include career growth or business projects, the library’s research guides are a great place to start your planning and preparation:

  • Visit the Job Seekers and Business guides to find collections of resources for job-hunting, skill development, test prep, industry insights, market research, grant opportunities and more.
  • The Tax Information guide will help you navigate that process and ensure you can focus more time and energy elsewhere this spring.

Home and Auto

Got renovations or repairs on your to do list? Do it yourself with the help of the library’s Home Improvement Reference Center and AutoMate databases. Home Improvement Reference Center offers information and instructions — including how-to videos and full-text selections from books and magazines — on home improvement and repair projects including plumbing, wiring, painting and decorating. AutoMate provides DIY car repair info on most makes and models as far back as 1954, including manuals, service bulletins and diagrams.

photo of Branch Out magazine with page turning to the Teens section on Renewal Read full article February 26, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/branch-out-spring-renewal-spread.jpg 1
Fairfax County Public Library Launches “Common Ground” Campaign

Common Ground Logo

Throughout 2020 Fairfax County Public Library’s “Common Ground” campaign will explore the concepts of community, civic engagement and American politics to help county residents rediscover that we have more in common with each other than we realize.

“The country is currently focused on ideological differences rather than the many values that we share. The library is for the entire community and encourages civil discussion on tough topics,” said Library Director Jessica Hudson. “We invite the entire Fairfax community to join us to remember how to listen to differing viewpoints and look for the common ground, which is almost always there.”

Four system-wide events are the core of the campaign, with library branches planning localized lectures and workshops. Selected books, articles, databases and websites will be shared throughout the year to enhance the exploration of issues on which community members and Americans in general can find common ground. Registration is appreciated for all events.

  1. Making Sense of the Census (postponed) Chris Martin, historian at the U.S. Census Bureau, will share surprising stories of the census’ past, from the impact of the Civil War to the challenges of early computer systems. Count on a revealing look at the why’s and how’s of accounting for the nation’s population.
  2. A Political Party (postponed) Bill Schneider, a U.S. political analyst dubbed “the nation’s electionmeister” by The Washington Times, will provide an overview of the major U.S. political parties. No cakes or lampshades required.
  3. The Electoral College: Necessity or Nuisance? Thursday, May 14, 7 p.m. at Kings Park Library. Dr. Jeremy Mayer, associate professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, will demystify the electoral college and explain its role in U.S. elections.
  4. Redistricting, or Why is My Congressional District Shaped Like a Seahorse? June (date and location TBD) This workshop will focus on the complexities of redistricting: What is it? Who draws the lines? When does it happen? Why is it such a big deal? 

To find more Common Ground events filter by the “Common Ground” category in the library calendar.

Common Ground Logo Read full article February 24, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/common%20ground.png 1
Celebrating Black History at the Library

Black History Month header graphic featuring influential African Americans

Honor and explore the pasts, presents and futures of African Americans with free library programs and events.

During Black History Month, which is celebrated in February, and beyond, Fairfax County Public Library branches are hosting free events and programs for all ages that highlight and explore the deep and diverse history and invaluable contributions and achievements of African Americans. From author talks and history lectures to movies, performances and more, a wide range of programs are taking place throughout the next few months. Plus, February's Outstanding Reads recommendations from our Collections staff focus on Black authors and stories — read them on

Check out the highlights of the schedule below. Asterisk (*) indicates registration required. For a full list of events, view the library’s online calendar.

Consider the Census

As the 2020 census approaches, the library is focusing on the importance of census records not only to determining funding for our public institutions, but also to tracing family histories — including those of African Americans. Visit the library’s Virginia Room, located in the City of Fairfax Regional Library, to discover historic photographs and census records of African American residents of the county.

James M. Goins photo and census from Virginia Room records

The Virginia Room maintains a collection—including maps, an extensive photographic archive, local newspapers and yearbooks, manuscript collections and rare books—documenting the historical record of the people, associations, events and places of Fairfax County, Virginia. Researchers can also use print holdings and online databases to research genealogy from all 50 states.

Find booklists for African American family and cultural history in our genealogy research guide.

Join Us for Events All Month and Beyond

  • Celebrate Black History Month
    February during open hours at Patrick Henry Library
    Drop into Patrick Henry's children's area all month long for coloring sheets, word searches, crossword puzzles and other activities celebrating Black History Month, also referred to as African American History Month. Grades K-6.
  • Adventures in History: Civil Rights Movement
    Tuesday, February 11, 4:30 p.m. at Dolley Madison Library
    Step back in the time to learn about the Civil Rights Movement. Learn history through art, games, stories and skill building exercises. Costumes encouraged. Space is limited. Ages 6-12.
  • Black History Month Movie: The ExpressThe Express: The Ernie Davis Story book cover
    Friday, February 14, 1 p.m. at Martha Washington Library
    Watch the fact-based saga of college football star Ernie Davis (Rob Brown), the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. Rated PG. Teens and adults.
  • Bright Star Theatre Presents: African Folktales
    Saturday, February 15, 2 p.m. at Oakton Library
    From the desert lands of the Sahara to the plains of the Serengeti to Mount Kilimanjaro and beyond—join a variety of characters from a wide range of cultures in stories that celebrate the various folk tale traditions of the continent of Africa. African music helps to set the stage for these energetic stories which include Anansi, porquoi tales and many facts and figures about this incredible continent. Grades K-6.
  • Podcast Club: Historically Black
    Wednesday, February 19, 6:30 p.m. at Reston Regional Library
    If you enjoy bite-size stories that you can listen to, join the Podcast Club to discuss a monthly selection of podcasts. With selections of fiction and non-fiction, politics and poetry, there is much to talk about. This month's podcast is “Historically Black: The Washington Post's coverage of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture." You can listen on a computer or a mobile device through any of several free apps. Every month listen to at least four episodes of your choosing of the podcast. Adults.
  • Researching Enslaved Ancestors & Finding Calvin: A Case Study
    Saturday, February 22, 10:30 a.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
    Explore resources to locate and learn about the lives of enslaved people with genealogist Renate Sanders. Researching Enslaved Ancestors, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Finding Calvin: A Case Study, 12-1 p.m. Learn tools and strategies from the general to the specific for identifying and documenting the lives of enslaved people. Adults and teens.
  • Burke Historical Society Presents: Enslaved Women and Midwifery in Early America
    Sunday, February 23, 3:30 p.m. at Pohick Regional Library
    Sara Collini, a doctoral candidate in history at GMU, shares her research on enslaved women’s role as midwives in Fairfax County and the Chesapeake from 1750 to 1820. Adults.
  • I Am Ali: A Documentary Film
    Monday, February 24, 7 p.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
    Join us for the first in a two-part documentary movie series in recognition of African American History Month. "I Am Ali" tells the story of Mohammed Ali's life through voice recordings and interviews from Ali's personal archives. PG. 1 hr 52 mins. Teens and adults
  • Civil Rights in Alexandria: Audrey P. Davis
    Tuesday, February 25, 7 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library
    Audrey P. Davis, director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, addresses the local history of civil rights in Alexandria. Sponsored by Vienna AAUW. Adults.
  • Thunder Soul: A Documentary Film
    Wednesday, February 26, 7 p.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
    Join us for the second in a two-part documentary movie series in recognition of African American History Month. "Thunder Soul" is a tribute to the man who turned Houston's Kashmere High School Stage Band into a funk powerhouse in the early 1970s. "Prof" Johnson's students gather 35 years later to celebrate the man who taught them about honor and pride. PG. 1 hr. 23 mins. Teens and adults
  • Black History Month Movie: Harriet
    Friday, February 28, 1 p.m. at Martha Washington Library
    Watch the incredible true story of Harriet Tubman and her quest to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Rated PG-13. Teens and adults.
  • Nikki Giovanni: An Afternoon of Poetry, Love and Enlightenment*Nikki Giovanni
    Sunday, March 1, 2 p.m. at The Alden, McLean Community Center
    Acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni shares her eloquent words of wisdom, spanning topics from the civil rights movement and politics to love, art and more. Discussing the ideals of equality in her dramatic oratory, she shares the experiences and thoughtful poetry that embody her activism and legacy of passion for the arts. Cosponsored by The Alden. Books available for sale and signing. Adults. Tickets for the pre-event VIP reception at Dolley Madison Library and for VIP seating at The Alden are available at
  • Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home
    Saturday, March 7, 10:30 a.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
     is the true story of five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and of their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice. Join us for a talk on this award winning book by author Richard Bell, Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland.   
  • African American Genealogy Study/Special Interest Group*
    Monday, March 16, 7 p.m. at Centreville Regional Library
    Join fellow genealogists researching African American ancestors in this facilitated study/special interest group. Share your brick wall challenges and research success stories. We'll learn from each other. A Centreville Regional Library, Virginia Room and Fairfax Genealogical Society program. Adults.
  • History of the African American Spirituals
    Tuesday, March 31, 1 p.m. at Reston Community Center
    Calvin Earl, spokesman for African American Spirituals as a National Treasure, will share stories and songs of how enslaved ancestors embedded their oral history into spirituals for safekeeping. Cosponsored by Reston Regional Library and Reston Community Center. Adults.
  • Cemeteries Tell No Lies: Finding Living Relatives in the Cemetery
    Saturday, April 18, 10:30 a.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
    A cemetery is a place where we bury our loved ones. It is a place that we visit our loved ones on special occasions, but it is also a place we can find living relatives. Join us for a lecture by award winning researcher of African American history and genealogy Char McCargo Bah. Adults and teens.
Black History Month header graphic featuring influential African Americans Read full article January 30, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/BHM-graphic%20copy.jpg 1
Start the Decade Making Cultural Connections at the Library

World Map in Watercolor

Free Library Events Begin the '20s with Celebrations and Observations of Culture and Community.

With a new year and a new decade underway, what better time is there to embrace new opportunities to expand ourselves and our communities, explore the lives and perspectives of others and emphasize the values and experiences we have in common?

Through holiday celebrations, guided conversations, educational lectures, social gatherings and more, events at Fairfax County Public Library this January-March do just that. Join us to start 2020 off on the right foot… and maybe learn something new by stepping into someone else’s shoes.

All are welcome at the library, and all our programs are free. Find highlights of events offering a wide variety of cultural engagement and enrichment below and visit the online calendar for a full list. Asterisk (*) indicates registration required.

Chinese Lunar New Year

  • Lunar New Year Festival
    Saturday, January 25, 3 p.m. at Dolley Madison Library
    Join the Dolley Madison Teen Advisory Board for a celebration of the Lunar New Year. All ages.
  • Chinese New Year: The Year of the Rat
    Saturday, January 25, 10 a.m. at Patrick Henry Library
    Enjoy crafts, foods and fun for all ages in celebration of the Lunar New Year. Join the library and the Northern Virginia Experimental Chinese School for special performances and games, including guzheng music, folk dances, tai chi and yo-yo.
  • Celebrate the Chinese New Year
    Saturday, January 25, 1 p.m. at Richard Byrd Library
    Welcome the Year of the Rat with crafts and activities. All ages.
  • Chinese Lion Dance

    Saturday, February 12020 Year of the Rat Happy New Year
    10:30 a.m. at Burke Centre Library
    1 p.m. at Chantilly Regional Library
    3 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Library

    Saturday, February 8
    10:30 a.m. at Lorton Library
    1 p.m. at Kings Park Library
    3 p.m. at Oakton Library

    Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Lion Dance performances that will demonstrate emotions such as fright, anger, grace and joy through movement in rhythm to the music of a drum, gong and cymbals. All ages.

American Past, Present and Future

  • World War I: Lessons and Legacies | Posters from the Smithsonian*
    Through February 25 at Patrick Henry Library
    In honor of America's entry into "The War to End All Wars" in 1917, the Smithsonian’s poster exhibition World War I: Lessons and Legacies explores The Great War and its lasting impact and far-reaching influence on American life. The war led to pivotal changes in America's culture, technology, economy and role in the world. It redefined how we saw ourselves as Americans, and its legacy continues today. The posters displayed in the branch’s meeting room are available for viewing when the room is not in active use for another program. Call the branch or check at the information desk for times. Adults.

World War I Lessons and Legacies SI historical image

  • American Creed Community Conversation
    Sunday, February 16, 2 p.m. at Pohick Regional Library
    American Creed Community Conversations center around the PBS documentary “AMERICAN CREED” featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice coming together from different points of view to explore ideals of freedom, fairness and opportunity. The film screening will be accompanied by scholar-facilitated discussion designed to foster respectful dialogue about American ideals and identity across all types of deepening divides. Supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Adults and teens.
  • Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbor
    Saturday, February 29, 11 a.m. at Reston Regional Library
    Meet new friends, celebrate diversity and learn about the culture and history of this community with discussions and a poster exhibit, Forgotten History: Muslims & Early America. Plus, enjoy hands-on activities, including calligraphy and henna, and sample international delicacies with a cup of coffee. All ages.
  • Citizenship Classes and Ceremonies
    See calendar for dates and times at various branches
    Classes focus on topics such as American history, government and culture using library, USCIS and other resources.

Exploring Religion

  • International Hijab Day
    Saturday, February 1, 11 a.m. at Reston Regional Library
    Learn about the symbolism of the hijab and why Muslim women wear it. Then try one on, try your hand at Arabic calligraphy and enjoy snacks. Presented in partnership with the Islamic Circle of North America. All ages.
  • PJ Library Book Buddies Storytime*
    Thursdays, monthly, 10:30 a.m. at Chantilly Regional Library
    All moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers and children who love books are invited for stories and fun that relate to Jewish culture traditions and holidays. Enjoy movement and crafts along with stories. Ages 2 1/2 - 5 years with caregiver. Siblings welcome.
  • PJ Library Book Buddies*
    Wednesdays, monthly, 10:30 a.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
    Enjoy storybooks and crafts about Jewish holidays and values. Cosponsored by PJ Library and Growing Jewish Families of the JCC of Northern Virginia. Age 6 months - 5 years with adult.

Person in red robe with hands in prayer

  • The World's Religions: Seven-Part Series
    Sundays, February 16-March 29, 2:30 p.m. at Centreville Regional Library
    Learn about the beliefs, values and practices of major world religions. Laura Shulman, Professor of Religion at Northern Virginia Community College, will present this seven-part series. Each session will include a lecture, Q&A and additional resources. Sessions: Judaism (1 of 7), Christianity (2 of 7), Islam (3 of 7), Hinduism (4 of 7), Buddhism (5 of 7), Sikhism (6 of 7) and Baha'i Faith (7 of 7). Adults and teens.

A World of Perspectives

  • Passport to Fun*
    Fridays, monthly, 4:30 p.m. at Chantilly Regional Library
    Travel the world exploring different languages and cultures through crafts and games with the Chantilly High School Language Honor Societies. For students in grades 1-6.
  • Meet Henry Brinton, Author of City of Peace
    Saturday, February 29, 2 p.m. at Oakton Library
    City of Peace
    is a gripping murder mystery about a Methodist minister who is forced to confront his own demons and help his followers overcome today’s prejudices that divide people of differing cultures and faiths. Adults.
  • Women in Jazz*
    Tuesday, March 3, 7 p.m. at Reston Regional Library
    Experience the history of women in jazz through lecture, trivia and live performance. Presented by master flutist Galen Abdur-Razzaq. Adults.
  • Autodidactics Discussion Group: Collaborative Self-teaching on Diverse Topics
    Thursday, March 5, 1 p.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library
    Join a group of curious learners in a wide-ranging discussion of themed topics. Quarterly themes are the chosen, with specific topics explored in depth each month in a friendly, collaborative learning group. March's discussion will focus on “family” and the meaning of family across cultures and time. Adults.
  • Meet Shabnam Curtis, Author of My Persian Paradox
    Tuesday, March 24, 7:30 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library
    Shabnam Curtis’s My Persian Paradox: Memories of an Iranian Girl opens in 1978 when the Iranian Revolution began and ends in 2004 when the author left Iran for America. It is the story of an ordinary Iranian girl who, like millions of other girls, was confused but tried to make sense of the oppression of the regime and the rigid structure of the male-dominant culture and still pursued the dream of freedom. Books available for sale and signing. Adults.

Book cover My Persian Paradox and photos of author Shabnam Curtis

World Map in Watercolor Read full article January 22, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/Cultural_watercolour.jpg 1
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