Patrick Henry Library’s new design set to be unveiled next week

Patrick Henry Library entrance design concept from September 2022 (via DPWES/Town of Vienna)

Vienna residents can get a look at their library’s past and future next week at a book talk that will double as a reveal of the planned design for the new facility.

Design plans for the upcoming Patrick Henry Library renovation will be unveiled to the public for the first time at a “Liberty and Libraries” event at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street SE) on Wednesday, June 28, according to the event page.

Fairfax County Public Library Director Jessica Hudson and a member of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services’ Capital Improvement Program (CIP) team will be in attendance.

In addition to the design unveiling, the event will feature a talk by local librarians Chris Barbuschak and Suzanne LaPierre about their book “Desegregation in Northern Virginia Libraries,” which delves into the racist practices deployed by FCPL and other public library systems when they emerged in the 1930s and the subsequent fight to integrate them.

“The [authors] will speak about the major civil rights activists who successfully desegregated local public libraries during the Jim Crow era,” the event page says. “The talk will highlight parts of the story that include the Vienna community and the establishment of the Patrick Henry Library.”

Set to run from 6:30-8 p.m., the event is free, but registration is encouraged.

“Liberty and Libraries” is part of Vienna’s Liberty Amendments Month festivities, which kicked off on Saturday (June 17) with a Juneteenth Celebration. Dubbed “Library Week,” the week of June 25 to July 1 will focus on the 14th Amendment that granted citizenship to everyone born or naturalized in the U.S., overturning the Dred Scott decision that denied citizenship to Black people.

Fairfax County’s proposed concept for the renovated Patrick Henry Library, as of September 2022 (via DPWES/Town of Vienna)

While this will be the first public presentation of the new Patrick Henry Library designs, earlier concepts were reviewed by the Vienna Town Council last year.

The county has proposed replacing the existing 13,817-square-foot community library at 101 Maple Avenue East with a roughly 18,000-square-foot facility accompanied by a parking garage. Planned features of the new library include a larger children’s section, technology upgrades and an outdoor plaza.

When presented with a concept last summer, the council feared the garage will dwarf the actual library, questioning whether a garage level could be moved underground or a second story could be added to the library to allow more open space on the 1.4-acre lot.

A more detailed concept presented in September appeared to allay those concerns, revising the parking garage from four levels to three with an open top deck featuring solar panels. The garage will have 209 spaces: 125 dedicated to the library and 84 available to the Town of Vienna for general use.

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