Public libraries are the great equalizers in society: all – regardless of income, birthplace, or education – are invited to expand their minds and access critical community resources. As public funding dwindles, organizations like Fairfax Library Foundation make all the difference. The Foundation supports the county’s network of 23 public libraries, providing essential funding for programs and services that benefit more than 1 million residents. Monthly early literacy activities bring volunteers into more than 120 childcare centers and Head Start programs where low-income preschoolers gain essential pre-reading skills. Changing Lives Through Literature offers first-time juvenile offenders an alternative to formal court action, building self-esteem and critical thinking skills ... and drastically reducing recidivism. Funding for new books and materials (more than $100,000 annually) ensures the largest possible selection is available. Libraries are needed more than ever.
Floor markings, disposable keyboard covers, free masks for those who need them, safe handling of returned, touched, and used materials – including quarantining – make it possible to welcome a limited number of visitors. ("Grab-and-go" is encouraged but not required.) Online literacy activities and storytime for small children, digital events for teens and adults (from Rainbow Teen Book Club, to yoga, to English Language Learning online), all say that the libraries are now "open."