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New Fairfield Area Library opens to fanfare

Addition to ‘Laburnum Gateway’ is nearly double size of original Fairfield library

Henrico County on Oct. 6 celebrated the opening of a new Fairfield Area Library, a spacious, modern facility that offers expanded library services, hours and amenities, including a digital media lab and a video display honoring cultural and historic trailblazers.

“I am excited for the promise this library holds to inspire people, to build community, to promote reading and learning and to teach valuable life skills,” Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton said. “I am proud to have been a part of this project, as it leaves a lasting legacy to my community.”

With 44,803 square feet over its two levels and massive glass windows, the library is nearly twice the size of the original Fairfield Area Library, which opened in 1976 at 1001 N. Laburnum Ave.

The new building, at 1401 N. Laburnum Ave., features about 54,000 books and other materials for adults, children and teens, 100 public computers, a large meeting room, two conference rooms and a variety of study rooms available for reservation.

Other amenities include a drive-up service window, a digital media lab, a recording studio and a multimedia Trailblazers Wall, highlighting individuals who have made significant contributions to the history and culture of Henrico, Virginia and the United States.

The $29 million library was funded through Henrico’s 2016 bond referendum, receiving 75% support countywide as the only library facility on the ballot. The building features an environmentally friendly design and construction that meets silver standards of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, program.

County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said the library would not have been possible without the community’s backing and input into the design.

“Henrico residents truly appreciate their libraries and expressed their enthusiasm for this project through their votes and engagement,” he said. “This is what makes this beautiful, new library so special. It reflects Henrico as a community, including our values and aspirations.”

When the library was being designed, Thornton said he envisioned something that would embody the educational philosophies of both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.

“Where Washington saw learning life skills and trades as the roadmap to advancement, DuBois emphasized academic learning,” he said. “I think both of those approaches have value, but, together, they are unstoppable. The library represents a place where both types of learning are supported, and communities can be lifted up.”

As a result, the Fairfield Area Library was designed in the shape of an X to reflect “the intersection of those two philosophies in the physical space of the building,” Thornton said.

The library stands in the southeastern quadrant of North Laburnum and Watts Lane in an area known as the “Laburnum Gateway,” which also includes the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, the Health Department East Clinic and the soon-to-open Henrico Aquatics Center. As part of the library project, a crosswalk with a traffic light has been added at Laburnum and Watts.

The Fairfield Area Library will be open seven days per week, including from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The Board of Supervisors included funding in the fiscal 2019-20 budget to offer Sunday hours at two locations – Fairfield Area Library and Libbie Mill Library.

Henrico County Public Library Director Barbara Weedman said the library will be a welcoming place that promotes learning, engagement and a bright future for everyone.

“This building has spaces for community meetings and activities, because we are at our best when we are an engaged community that comes together,” she said. “It also features state-of-the-art technology and an environmentally-friendly design, because we intentionally invest in today for Henrico’s tomorrow. Most importantly, this library is accessible and welcoming to all.”

The new Fairfield Area Library opened Oct. 6. Like the Libbie Mill Library, the Fairfield Area Library will be open seven days per week, including from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Henrico officials, elected leaders and other guests participate in a ribbon-cutting to mark the opening of the new Fairfield Area Library.
Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton addresses the crowd gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The library features about 54,000 books and other materials for adults, children and teens, 100 public computers, a large meeting room, two conference rooms and a variety of study rooms available for reservation.
With 44,803 square feet over its two levels and massive glass windows, the library is nearly twice the size of the original Fairfield Area Library.

Fairfield Area Library
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Address: 1401 N. Laburnum Ave., Henrico, VA 23223
Phone: (804) 501-1930
More information: henricolibrary.org/Fairfield

 
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