Fairfax County, Virginia

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12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 324
Fairfax, VA 22035

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Virginia Library Association Awards Miriam Smolen 2020 Trustee Library Award

Miriam Smolen

The Virginia Library Association (VLA) awarded Miriam Smolen its 2020 Trustee Library Award, which recognizes distinguished service to libraries or a library in Virginia. Smolen joined the Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) Board of Trustees in 2014 and is its immediate past chair; she continues to serve on the board as the Providence District representative.

“Our libraries are a foundation of our public life, and I wanted to support this jewel of a public resource,” Smolen said.

Smolen has worked diligently, building relationships and bridging divides, to accomplish her present and future goals of both expanding ongoing funding for FCPL and expanding community access to library services by increasing branch hours.

“Trustee Smolen’s guidance and dedication the last several years has been invaluable,” said FCPL Director Jessica Hudson. “During her tenure as chair, we received support from the county’s Board of Supervisors to expand and standardize library hours. Although we won’t see that happen this year due to pandemic-related budget changes, it’s clear that our community’s assessment of FCPL’s value has grown under Trustee Smolen’s leadership.”

That advocacy is her most important contribution, Smolen said.

“I am most proud of the work our board has done in advocating for more library resources for our patrons and the whole community. Individually, and as a board, we have developed strong relationships with each supervisor, and educated them and the public on the huge variety of services provided by the library, but also the tremendous need for more access and materials,” Smolen said.

During these challenging times for library funding and support, Smolen’s work will provide a strong foundation for budget planning when it is time to request funding for the library system in future fiscal years, according to the news release from VLA.

Even during a global pandemic, FCPL continues to serve Fairfax County residents in innovative ways, Smolen said.

“Our community should know that the Fairfax County Library is filled with devoted, creative and public-minded staff.  They were, and still are, working through the COVID-19 crisis to keep providing services and books to residents stuck at home,” she said.

Miriam Smolen Read full article September 25, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/Miriam.jpg 1
12 Fascinating Facts About Fairfax County
black and white photo of women picketing for the right to vote outside the White House in 1917
Photo Associated with Occoquan Workhouse Historical Marker in Lorton

Fairfax County Public Library explores a dozen intriguing people and places from around the historic county.

By Lisa Kern, Branch Manager at Oakton Library

Formed in 1742, Fairfax County predates the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the start of the Revolutionary War by more than 30 years. Over the course of nearly 300 years, the county has been home to numerous notable residents and historic events.

The 455 historical markers that dot Fairfax County roadsides, parks, and other local sites commemorate many of those individuals and occasions. Some describe well-known people and places like Clara Barton, Manassas, Mount Vernon, the Battle of Ox Hill, Mosby’s Raiders and Lord Fairfax.

Other markers, however, tell the stories of lesser-known figures and events, providing a treasure trove of historical gems that might surprise and intrigue many a local resident. Read on to discover a dozen of the more obscure and fascinating markers of Fairfax County — selected from the Historical Marker Database — along with their descriptions. Check out the full listings at, and learn more about local and regional history by tapping into the resources of the Virginia Room, a special collection of history and genealogy within Fairfax County Public Library.

The Big Fire | Herndon

On the night of March 22, 1917, a fire that started at a nearby livery stable consumed downtown Herndon, including a portion of Station Street and much of Pine Street. Although the use of dynamite prevented further devastation, 14 buildings were lost. This fire served as the catalyst for the purchase of fire equipment and the later formation of the Herndon Volunteer Fire Department.

Ferenc Nagy | Herndon

The founding father of Hungarian democracy and a civil rights leader, Nagy lived in Herndon from 1947 to 1979. Elected in Hungary’s first democratic election, he served as prime minister of Hungary from February 1946 to May 1947, resisting attempts by the Hungarian Communist Party to become a puppet of a Soviet backed police state. In 1947 he resigned under duress (the kidnapping of his son) and gave up the premiership in return for his son and 300,000 Swiss francs. He was subsequently granted asylum in the United States.

Florence Jodzies | Oakton

In 1934, at her home Harmony Farm in Oakton, Florence Jodzies founded the Vale Home Demonstration Club, affiliated with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service. An excellent speaker and writer, Jodzies campaigned for better living conditions in rural communities, including the need for improved roads, indoor plumbing and access to recreational facilities. In 1936, as state library chairman of the Virginia Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs, she developed the Federation’s library project to bring books, magazines and literature to rural Virginians. Designed to “bring improvement of mind and refreshment of soul” to members and their communities, by 1938 the project was adopted by clubs throughout Virginia.

Hybla Valley Airport | Alexandria

Virginia’s first airport permit was granted to Elvin W. Robertson’s Hybla Valley Airport in February 1929. As president of Mount Vernon Airways, Robertson utilized the airfield as a site for barnstorming and air circuses. Robertson, Fairfax Supervisor Chairman W.F.P. Reid, and the president of Germany's Zeppelin Company envisioned the field as an ideal airport for the Hindenburg’s passenger and mail service. Additionally, the site was a contender for the Washington, D.C., regional airport. During World War II U.S. Navy pilots trained at Hybla Valley, and government surplus aircraft were sold there. Ashburn Flying Service operated the field from 1945 until its closing 1956.

Ilda | Annandale

Ilda, a community located at the intersection of Guinea Road and Little River Turnpike, came into existence after the Civil War and lasted into the first half of the twentieth century. It originated when two freedmen — Horace Gibson and Moses Parker — purchased property on the north side of the turnpike from the Gooding family and established a blacksmith shop. In time, a racially mixed community grew to include a post office. According to tradition, the name “Ilda” was a contraction of the name Matilda Gibson Parker. Descendants of Gibson and Parker were probably buried in a nearby cemetery, perhaps originally created to accommodate people enslaved by the Gooding family. Their remains were relocated in 2008.

Ira Noel Gabrielson | Oakton

Oakton resident Dr. Ira Noel Gabrielson was a pioneer conservationist, distinguished field ornithologist and renowned author. He served as the first director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was an international leader of conservation projects. Gabrielson founded and served as the first chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and first President of World Wildlife Fund-US. For his life’s work, he was inducted into the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame in 1978. His land, between Leeds Road and Difficult Run, is a Fairfax County park known as Gabrielson Gardens Park.

Laura Ratcliffe | Herndon

Confederate spy Laura Ratcliffe was born in Fairfax County in 1836. During the Civil War she met Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, who introduced her to then-Lt. John Mosby in 1862. Mosby credited her with preventing his capture early in 1863, noting, “My life as a partisan would have closed that day.” Ratcliffe and other informants provided Mosby and his Partisan Rangers (43d Battalion, Virginia Cavalry) information that helped them raid Union outposts, communications and supply lines. She married Milton Hanna in 1890. Ratcliffe died in 1923 and is buried nearby in a family cemetery.

Mystery of the Centreville Six | Centreville

In June 1994, a well-preserved male skeleton was found buried in a then-wooded area and reported to authorities. Remnants of a woolen uniform jacket with military-style brass buttons covered the upper half of the remains. Three years later, forensic anthropologists and archaeologists from the Smithsonian Institution and Fairfax County Archaeological Services explored the site further and found five additional burials, all in a row. After extensive examination of forensic data, as well as genealogical and military records, researchers concluded that the men were among the earliest casualties of the Civil War. They died during or after a fight at Blackburn’s Ford July 18, 1861, when Confederates under Gen. James Longstreet blocked a Federal column under Daniel Tyler that attempted to cross Bull Run. On June 10, 2006, the six soldiers were reinterred with full military honors in the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts.

Nike Missile Site, Fairfax
Nike Missile Site, Fairfax

Nike Missile Sites | Fairfax, Great Falls and Lorton

During the Cold War, a ring of Nike anti-aircraft missile sites defended the nation’s capital, reminiscent of the perimeter of forts that protected it during the Civil War. The launch control equipment for one of the three Nike complexes in Fairfax County was located just east of Fairfax. To the west stood the missiles, poised on above-ground launchers. The U.S. Army (1954–1959) and the Army National Guard (1959–1963) operated the battery. Built to oppose Soviet air attack, this complex and those in Great Falls and Lorton were three of 13 Nike sites that surrounded Washington and Baltimore.

Occoquan Workhouse | Lorton

In the Occoquan Workhouse, from June to December 1917, scores of women suffragists were imprisoned by the District of Columbia for picketing the White House demanding the right to vote. Their courage and dedication during harsh treatment aroused the nation to hasten the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The struggle for woman’s suffrage had taken 72 years.

Thermo-Con House | Fort Belvoir

In 1948, the Department of Defense worked with Higgins Industries to develop a standard house design to meet the Army’s housing shortage. Higgins Industries designed and mass-produced landing craft during World War II and held the patent for “Thermo-Con,” a cement material that expanded as it cured. The renowned industrial architects Albert Kahn & Associates designed the prototype in the International style, and the 410th Engineer Battalion completed the building in 1949. Due to its innovative design and construction techniques, the house was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1997. In 2000, the Army renovated and returned ‘Thermo-Con’ House to use as distinguished visitor housing.

WWII POW Camp Site | Fairfax

One of seven work camps in the commonwealth of Virginia, a state road work camp located in the vicinity of this site housed 199 German prisoners of war from July to November 1945. Prisoners worked on local farms to alleviate the labor shortage associated with the war. On November 16, 1945, following the end of the war, all work camps closed and the prisoners were sent to Camp Shanks, New York, before eventually returning to Germany. The marker can be reached from the intersection of Government Center Parkway and Ridge Top Road, across from the parking entrance to apartments and retail on Ridge Top Rd., behind the storage facility.

black and white photo of women picketing for the right to vote outside the White House in 1917 Read full article September 14, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/fairfax-facts_historical-marker_occoquan-workhouse.jpg 1
September is Library Card Sign-up Month

Library cards are more powerful than you know

celebrate library card signup month

September is the American Library Association's annual Library Card Sign-up Month! This year, Wonder Woman is the honorary chair, embarking on a new mission to champion the power of a library card.

Use the buttons below to register for a card, learn all about the benefits of your library account, search the library catalog, and discover services available during COVID-19.

Comic book-style illustration of Wonder Woman reading a book among palm trees with text: "Libraries are wonderful! Celebrate Libarary Card Sign-Up Month with Wonder Woman this September" and Libraries Transform, ALA, OverDrive logos Read full article September 2, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/Wonder%20Woman%20%28ALA%29.jpg 1
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.

5 Historical Pandemic Books Read full article April 24, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/5-historical-books-pandemics.png 1
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.
Kids Never Stop Learning Read full article March 18, 2020 /library/sites/library/files/Assets/images/news/kids-never-stop-learning-online-resources.jpg 1
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
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