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Woodrow Wilson Library’s Grand Re-Opening Slated for March 21

Kathy Young, assistant branch manager at the Woodrow Wilson Library, can’t wait to welcome visitors to the new library which has 24 computers. (Photo: Patricia Leslie/News-Press)
Kathy Young, assistant branch manager at the Woodrow Wilson Library, can’t wait to welcome visitors to the new library which has 24 computers. (Photo: Patricia Leslie/News-Press)

Leapin’ Leprechauns! It’s another green library for Fairfax County! And this one’s in Falls Church at 6101 Knollwood Drive, the newly renovated Woodrow Wilson Library Branch which will open doors again on Saturday, March 21, just a wee bit past St. Patrick’s Day.

The library has been closed about 18 months so architects and builders could remodel and turn the library into a LEED Silver certified building, meaning it meets certain environmental goals in resources used and in new practices.

“Just gorgeous,” is the way library branch coordinator, Rudy Rodela, describes it.

“I joke among my colleagues and Woodrow Wilson staff that it’s such a beautiful building, I want to quit my job and go back as a page,” Rodela beamed.

“It’s light, it’s open. The architects did such a beautiful job of bringing the outside in” with lots of glass. “You almost feel like you are outside reading,” Rodela said.
Ribbon cutting for the grand opening is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, followed at 11:30 a.m. with a lion and dragon dance and crafts, and at 3 p.m., a puppet show. Light refreshments will be served, according to Mary Mulrenan, marketing director for the county’s libraries.

The chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Penny Gross, and the Fairfax County library director, Edwin S. Clay III, will welcome guests.
Assistant Branch Manager Kathy Young who’s been at Woodrow Wilson seven years, bubbles with enthusiasm leading a tour and describing improvements, from a bumble bee carpet in the children’s section, chair designs, recycling and re-planting azaleas from the side of the building to the park next door (to remain within sight), to more classes in English As a Second Language and bettering literacy skills.

Young pointed out the architects left old brick from the previous building to blend with the natural colors of the new tables, shelves, ceiling, flooring, and outdoors.
The number of public computers has been increased by eight to total 24, and the collection will remain about the same: 50,000 items.

The renovated 14,420-square-foot is the same footprint, Mulrenan said, but architectural creativity squeezed more space on side walls for better use, according to Rodela.
“One of the big features is an expanded meeting room which can be subdivided into two,” Rodela said, and one room can even be used after hours with a specially designed exit, David Newhall, the circulation manager, pointed out.

The library charges nothing to reserve a room.

“All our services are free,” said Rodela. “We only charge for printing and copying.”

Some of the environmentally-friendly practices used in the new building include roof, faucets, lighting, ventilation, open spaces and storm water designs, and occupancy sensors to detect usage and reduce energy.

A fifth of the construction materials came from within 500 miles of the site which lowered transportation costs.

The name of the new branch manager, “green” to the Fairfax County system, will be kept a secret until he signs papers March 23, library officials said.

Officials were mum about his appearance at the library’s opening, but residents might look for a fellow wearing just a wee bit of green on opening day.
The Woodrow Wilson Library originally opened for business in 1961 in a 1,400 square feet storefront and moved to the present site in 1967.

“We certainly hope people fall in love with [the renovated library] the way we have,” Rodela said.

The library will open every day at 10 a.m. (except Thursday, at 1 p.m.) and stay open until 9 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and close at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, and 5 p.m., Saturday. The library is closed on Sunday.

Fairfax County taxpayers approved funding for the $4,100,000 project in a 2004 bond referendum.

“The community has been missing that library,” Rodela said, “and we look forward to having all the people who used to be at the old Woodrow Wilson back at the new library.”