In FY2017 the library’s 23 branches, including *Access Services branch and the **Virginia Room, provided $244.5 million in resources and services to county residents, including educational programs and materials, events, digital media and research databases.
For every one dollar invested in the Fairfax County Public Library, the community receives $6.51 in the form of access to resources, programming, services and technology. This figure was calculated by dividing the total value of library resources and services delivered ($244.6 million) by the FCPL FY2017 full budget of $37.6 million.
The value of library materials and services was determined using a Value Calculator based on the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Value Calculator, average estimated valuations for books and digital media by other large library systems, and by input from its staff collections experts.
Below are examples of library programs and resources that are improving the quality of life for library customers.
A Diverse, Well-Rounded Collection Available in Varied Formats and Languages
FCPL circulates more than 10 million physical items and more than 1.5 million electronic items each year with the latter number continually growing.
According to data collected for FY2017, 3.45 million adult books were borrowed at a value of $58.76 million; 395,078 young adult books borrowed ($4.74 million value); 5.53 million children’s books borrowed ($94.02 million value); 1.52 million eBooks and eAudiobooks downloaded ($22.92 million value); 197,539 audiobooks borrowed ($2.56 million value); and 5,938 Interlibrary Loan items borrowed ($148,450 value).
|Resource||Borrowed||Value to Community|
|Young Adult Books||395,078||$4,740,936|
|Audiobooks on CD||197,539||$2,568,007|
|ILL from other Library Systems||5,938||$148,450|
|eBooks and eAudiobooks||1,528,216||$22,923,240|
Among fairfax county’s nearly 1.2 million residents, almost 40 percent speak a language other than english at home. The library offers books and periodicals for adults and children in multiple languages.
The library also offers storytime programs in languages other than English as well as bi-lingual conversational classes and language learning classes.
Sensory storytimes designed for children on the autism spectrum or with sensitivity to sensory overload are also available.
Early Literacy: Springboard to Success
Early literacy is part of the library’s strategic emphasis on expanding literacy across all age groups and ethnicities. In FY 2017, 34,528 children attended early literacy programs at a $414,336 value. Early literacy outreach staff and volunteers visited approximately 169 locations (Head Start classrooms, family child care homes and child care centers/preschools) averaging 220 storytimes per month. Library staff and volunteers gave 32,090 books to children, thanks to funding from the Fairfax Library Foundation.
Technology contributes to the library’s early literacy program. Nine AWE literacy stations are installed at nine branches, featuring over 4,000 localized learning activities designed specifically for 2-8 year-old patrons.
More than 27,000 kids participated in the library’s Summer Reading Adventure in 2018.
The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten (a nationwide) program is designed to support early literacy, family bonding and school readiness. It aims to help caregivers prepare children for one of life’s big milestones: kindergarten. Studies have shown that reading to children from birth strengthens their language skills and builds their vocabulary. A child can register for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten at any library branch after reading or listening to 25 books. To date, 8,543 children have read or had read to them 25 to 1,000 books. A total of 1,229 have read 500 or more books and 636 have completed the 1,000 books milestone.
Dynamic Partnerships Maximize Impact
The library is partnering with the Fairfax County Public School system to ensure that every student in the county has a library card, and to support early literacy and the No Kid Hungry program.
The library partners with the Department of Motor Vehicles to host DMV CONNECT and DMV2Go making DMV services more accessible for county residents, while the DMV displays library posters in their offices to encourage family members to sign-up for library cards. The library is also working with Fort Belvoir to make it easier for area military families to get library cards.
Thanks to the Library of Virginia and a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the library loans free nature-themed backpacks that enable kids of all ages to enjoy the outdoors and learn about nature and science. The 32 backpacks contain a parking pass to Virginia’s 36 state parks, pocket guides to plants, a dip net and magnifying lens, a port-a-bug field observation container, star charts and other useful items.
Technology That Empowers
The library provides free access to information of all types in a wide range of formats. As mentioned, the value calculator includes figures for eBooks and eAudiobooks. In FY2017, the library provided access to 438,890 hours of computer use ($5.27 million value), 1.94 million database searches ($38.65 million value), and 19 STEAM educational kits ($760). Fairfax County Public Library is one of only 49 libraries nationwide to loan over 1 million eBooks in 2016.
Free Wi-Fi at every branch is a valuable library service, particularly since not all households in the county have internet service. Online catalogs, card-swipe payments and self-help kiosks all streamline the customer experience. Printing services are available from library workstations and personal wireless devices. Cardholders can also send print jobs from their laptop or desktop computers at home and pick them up at a local library branch. Four branches provide 3D printing.
The library provides technology to engage youth and support creativity and innovation. Two branches currently offer teen gaming stations and a third will soon join the ranks. Hands-on events with drones, Sphero-programmable robot balls, Arduinos and snap-circuits are popular. Many branches offer coding classes, maker camps and other types of tech training.
Other Library Services
Traditional reference services are also included in the value calculator. Librarians provide access to reliable information on almost any topic. Fairfax County Public Library information staff provided an estimated 731,363 hours of reference service in FY2017 ($6.58 million value).
An estimated 50,812 adults attended library programs, such as author book talks, historian-led lectures, health care seminars and financial literacy workshops ($762,180 value). Approximately 13,788 teens attended library programs on topics such as sharpening test-taking skills, resume preparation, job interviewing and book clubs ($165,456 value). 151,249 kids attended storytimes, science and math workshops and themed arts and crafts ($1.059 million value).
The library provides free meeting space to non-profit organizations and individuals for educational, cultural and informational community meetings and programs. In FY2017, meeting room use totaled 135,701 hours ($3.39 million value).
*The Access Services branch removes barriers to library services for people with disabilities. Its many services include: providing opportunities to learn about assistive technology and equipment, offering books in alternative formats to people with vision impairments and delivering books to readers who cannot visit a local library.
**The Virginia Room, located on the second floor of the City of Fairfax Regional Library, collects and preserves local history resources and provides a broad array of genealogical resources.