Fauquier County Public Library

Library Updates

Reading Riot: Kudos to our Homework Helpers

Posted by librarystaff on

For several years now, Liberty High School National Honor Society students and the Bealeton branch library have had a happily synergistic Teen volunteer helping student with homeworkrelationship. To meet their community service requirement, NHS members offer Homework Help (formerly entitled Tutoring) to school-age children. In return, the library promotes the program and provides the space for the students to work.

As word has spread to local elementary and middle schools, the program has grown and thrived. Often seven to ten families drop in for the sessions and a half dozen tutors eagerly wait to assist. Students are encouraged to bring specific school work that they need help with and in they march with math sheets, language arts assignments and history projects in hand. The tutors always give excellent one-on-one assistance to the younger students with kindness and skill. Some of the tutors are even proficient in Spanish and have been invaluable helping our Hispanic patrons.

Volunteer homework helper with student

It is so gratifying to see this much-needed service being taken advantage of. And it’s great that NHS tutors not only gain the satisfaction of helping their community but also earn volunteer hours that boost their job and college applications. So here’s a shout out to our wonderful NHS volunteer tutors – past, present and future – for the great work they do for the patrons of the Bealeton library!

Homework Help is offered 5-7 p.m. each Tuesday at the Bealeton branch library throughout the school year when school is in session. Free; drop-in.

Ann McDuffie, Youth Services Librarian, Bealeton branch library

For book lists, program highlights and staff suggestions for young adult readers published prior to January 2015, visit Reading Riot, our blog about the best books, events and websites for teen.

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Homework Help: Science Fair Madness Begins!

Posted by alison on

kids with test tubesDo you (or does your child) have a science fair project due? Or are you a parent, teacher or home schooler looking for some practice guides for hands-on science learning? Recommended online sources for project ideas, tips and guides include:

  • Access Science – All you need is your library card number and you can access supporting articles and research for your science fair projects and research papers. Award-winning materials include encyclopedia articles, videos, news and more.
  • Discovery Education’s Science Fair Central – Includes hundreds of project ideas, advice from judges and previous winners and display tips.
  • Scholastic.com’s Science Explorations – With the help of audio, text, photos, and video, students thoroughly explore six science topics, from the Galapagos Islands to giant squid.
  • Kids.gov – Here you’ll find science fair projects, ideas and experiments from various government agencies; broken down by age and includes a special section for teachers/parents.
  • ScienceBob.com – Hosted by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder, this site is aimed at elementary and middle school students and includes videos and printable directions.
  • ScienceBuddies.org – K-12 students, parents, and teachers can quickly and easily find free project ideas and help in all areas of science from physics to food science and music to microbiology

For offline resources, search the library’s online catalog (or browse in the 507.8 and J.507.8 nonfiction section — sort by “reverse year” to see the most recent titles) to place holds/check out books for science project ideas, including:

Best of luck!

Alison, Electronic Resources Librarian, Warrenton central library

For tech tools and tips published prior to January 2015, visit eResource News, our blog filled with news and information about Fauquier County Public Library’s electronic resources.

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Kiddosphere: 2014 Favorites – Picture Books and Predictions!

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I thought we would never get here; it’s the Friday before the Newbery/Caldecott announcements! Time to wind down my favorites from 2014 by discussing my favorite picture books, and going on record with my picks for Monday’s Youth Media Awards.

I don’t have an accurate count for the number of picture books I read. I only counted 68 picture books/easy readers, which isn’t that much. However, I really only kept track of the picture books/easy reader titles that made an impression. Eight were especially awesome:

I adore this West African Beauty and the Beast a ton, and hope that it’s recognized on Monday. H. Chuku Lee’s illustrations are divine.

A Book of BabiesIf you want picture books so cute you want to pinch them, you need to keep tabs on Il Sung Na. Just LOOK at that baby duckie. ALL of Na’s illustrations are like that. Full of pep, personality, and adorable-ness. A Book of Babies features a baby duck observing other baby animals. The text is sparse but simply poetic.

Little Green rolls into town and only knows one word: “Go!” Everyone goes, goes, goes…and goes.Luckily, a new friend, Stop, shows up. Go! Go! Go! Stop! is hilarious, but it also has a well-crafted message about cooperation (without laying it on too thick).

Gus and Me was definitely the surprise (for me) of 2014. I certainly wasn’t expecting a tender and wonderfully crafted picture book memoir about Keith Richards’s relationship with his grandfather. It’s a deeply heartfelt story about the importance of grandparents, mentoring, and music. Richards’s daughter, Theodora (named after Gus, whose formal name was Theodore), created wistful and endearing illustrations that match the gentle tone of the story. I appreciated the simple biographical note about Keith Richards in the back matter (“Keith later began playing in a band with a group of friends, including Mick Jagger. They called themselves the Rolling Stones.”) and an overview of Theodora Richards’s research and technique for her renderings of post-war London.

HYSTERICAL. Absolutely hysterical. Here Comes the Easter Cat is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. Cat is jealous and wants to replace the Easter Bunny, but pretty much falls apart when he realizes what a strenuous job it is to be the Easter Bunny. Its sequel, Here Comes Santa Cat, is just as funny.

I realize that a story about a girl whose favorite playmate is a maple tree is rather out there, but Maple is such a tender and darling story about the arrival of a baby sister that it immediately became one of my year’s favorite picture books. I prefer books that present the arrival of a sibling in a positive manner rather one that is is strongly negative (until the very end), so this one is on my recommendation list when people ask for “new baby books.”

My BusI’m a fan of everything Byron Barton creates, but his transportation-themed picture books (which make for great board books as well) are my favorites. My Bus is ideal for the youngest transportation-obsessed listeners. There’s also a little bit of addition and subtraction going on throughout the story, which adds a great touch.

Remember the game “Telephone”? Perhaps you played it in Scouts/youth group or at summer camp. It starts when someone whispers a phrase into his/her neighbor’s ear, who then does the same; this continues until the last person in the circle has to say the phrase out loud. Of course, it’s usually completely different from the original phrase! I play this with my Tween Scene group in the summer, and it’s always a hit. Telephone stars a mama bird who asks another bird to pass on an important message for baby bird Peter. As you can imagine, the birds add their own interpretations to the original message. Mac Barnett’s picture books are wildly inventive and funny; this is fabulous.

And now, for my probably wildly off-the-wall predictions for Monday’s big announcements!

Newbery: Brown Girl Dreaming
Honors: Rain Reign, Revolution, El Deafo (some are naming El Deafo for the Newbery; will be interesting to see if the committee can name a graphic novel according to the Newbery criteria)

Caldecott: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
Honors: Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems, Beauty and the Beast (please?)

Want to catch the announcements of the Youth Media Awards live? You have several options:

Watch the live webcast.
Follow I Love Libraries on Twitter or Facebook.
The official hashtag for the announcements is #ALAyma. If you follow this hashtag, be prepared for an avalanche of tweets!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

For book lists, reviews and staff suggestions for children published prior to January 2015, visit Kiddosphere, our blog about children/young adult fiction and non-fiction.

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Get Assistance with Health Insurance Sign Up and Income Tax Filing

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The February 15 deadline for signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is fast approaching. If you need assistanctaxtimee getting signed up, representatives from Enroll Virginia! will be available at the Warrenton central library and the Bealeton branch library from January 26 to February 13. To make an appointment call (703) 216-5262.

Right behind ACA is income tax season with assistance available at all Fauquier County Public Library locations between February 1 and April 9. To make an appointment with a representative from the Foundation for Tax Assistance, call (540) 422-8465.

With cuts to the IRS budget, only limited tax forms will be available for pick up at public libraries. The Commonwealth of Virginia ceased distribution of forms to libraries several years ago, as well. However, the library will have master copies for photocopying or staff can assist you with printing copies from the IRS or Virginia state website. Copies and printouts are .15 cents per page.

Dawn, Public Services Manager, Warrenton central library 


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Staff Picks: Library Staff Shares Their Favorite Reads

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Book ClubsAs you can imagine, everyone who works at the library counts reading as one of their favorite activities, so it’s not unusual for us to share books we’ve enjoyed with one another. Now, we’d like to share a few with you too, from the people you don’t always see out in the library, but who are working hard to provide Fauquier residents with a wonderful library experience—the Fauquier County Public Library administrative team.

Us: A Novel by David Nicholls.  A romantic comedy that uses angst and humor to illuminate the resilience of the human heart. Douglas Peterson’s efforts to preserve his disintegrating family take him on another kind of journey — from despair to unexpected joy. This tender novel will further cement Nicholls’ reputation as a master of romantic comedy.  Maria, Library Director, Warrenton central library

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. Written by one of my favorite authors, the love story that Hoffman weaves between main characters Coralie and Eddie is, like most of her books, a bit magical. Set in New York City during the first decades of the twentieth century, the changes taking place in society are the perfect backdrop for the changes that occur in the main characters lives. Dawn, Public Services Manager, Warrenton central library

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  Full disclosure – I originally read Outlander several years ago and went on to read several others in the series. I enjoyed it the first time around and decided to re-read it when Outlander debuted as an original series on STARZ in 2014 (it has gone on to win a 2015 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Cable Sci fi/Fantasy TV Show). Outlander is rich with history of Scotland in the mid-1700’s and characters that generated strong reactions. I quickly found myself rooting for Jamie Fraser and gritting my teeth over Jonathan Randall (aka Black Jack Randall). Lisa, Public Information Coordinator, Warrenton central library

The Cat Sitter’s Cradle by Blaize & John Clement.  Part of a popular mystery series initiated by Blaize Clement and continued by her son, John, this title features the pet sitter Dixie Hemingway in yet another fast-paced and entertaining story, this time set in the Florida Keys.  Linda, Support Services Manager, Warrenton central library

Day After Night by Anita Diamant.  This was a new author for me – recommended by Dawn S. I liked this book because it was based on a true story and I thought it very well-written and a good read all around. In fact,  I liked it so much that I have already read another book by the same author.  Based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred Jewish prisoners from the Atlit internment camp outside Haifa, this is the story of four young women, haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, who find hope and salvation in the bonds of friendship even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country. Terri, Administrative Specialist, Warrenton central library

61 Hours by Lee Child.  This book is set in a South Dakota winter that happens to be the cause of a bus crash that leaves the main character, Jack Reacher, stranded in a small town. He finds himself tasked with protecting an elderly woman that has been witness to a crime. Jack must keep her alive until she can give her testimony. The book contains some unexpected plot twists and turns and, like all of the Lee Child books, was very exciting. Kim, Accounting Clerk, Warrenton central library

Looking for more book lists and staff suggestions? Stop by the reference desk at your local library. For online book lists published prior to January 2015, visit Book Notes, our blog all about books.

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Reading Roundup: Bealeton Book Club Enjoys The Snow Child

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In January, the Bealeton Book Club’s reading selection was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. This was a great selection to “cozy up with” during the recent cold weather!

The Snow Child book cover - small girl and fox playing in the snow between trees

The Snow Child is a tale set in 1920s Alaska, where the main characters Jack and Mabel face their first winter while homesteading. They are a childless couple desiring isolation, yet experiencing alienation from one another. They are unprepared for the difficulties of an Alaskan winter.

During the first snowfall, they spontaneously create a child out of the snow. The following morning, the “snow child” has disappeared, but they see a young girl wearing the scarf and mittens with which they dressed the snow child. Her name is Faina and she seems to be a child of the wilderness. She gradually begins to trust them and they open their hearts to her. Meanwhile, Jack and Mabel begin to develop friendships with local neighbors George and Esther, and their son Garrett.

The author, Eowyn Ivey, is a native Alaskan, so the story feels authentic, yet magical at the same time. Interwoven throughout the novel are actual poems and Russian fairy tales about a “snow child” who magically appears to a childless couple. I particularly enjoyed the selection at the beginning of the book, which is a basis for the story:

“Let us go into the yard behind
and make a little snow girl;
and perhaps she will come alive,
and be a little daughter to us.”

Little Daughter of the Snow by Arthur Ransome

Most of our book club readers enjoyed the book, particularly the mystery surrounding the “snow child.” There was a lively discussion about the ending. Read the book and see what you think!

If this story interests you, try these (please note that some of these are children’s books):

Winds of Skilak by Bonnie Rose Ward
In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Russia by Virginia Haviland
The Little Snow Girl by Carolyn Croll

 The Bealeton Book Clubs meet once per month. If you would like to join us, please check our schedule for dates, times, and reading selections:

Bealeton Evening Book Club,  Monday, 7:30 p.m.
Bealeton Afternoon Book Club, Thursday 2:30 p.m.

 Happy Reading!

Mary Sue, Adult Reference, Bealeton branch library

Keep up-to-date on library news and events! Subscribe to bookmarks, our monthly eNewsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.


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Comic Books for Grownups

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Starting January 27, comics for adult readers are on display at the Warrenton central library. We have something for every reader, from graphic novels to classic comic strips.

If you’re interested in comics but not sure where to start, here are five recommendations for adult readers.

Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes

book cover of Ice Haven

Daniel Clowes is best known for his wonderfully dark coming-of-age graphic novel, Ghost World. Here I’m going to highlight one of his lesser-known works, “Ice Haven.”

Through deceptively simple comic strips, Clowes weaves a profound tale of love and murder. The storytelling is quirky but accessible and will appear to fans of literary fiction and black comedy.

Graphic memoirs by Lucy Knisley

Knisley’s four slice-of-life memoirs (including the forthcoming Displacement) follow the author’s experiences with travel, food, and relationships.

My favorite is probably An Age of License, a narrative about finding independence as a maturing adult, set during Knisley’s travels in Europe. There’s a lot of humor here, as well as illuminating small details of food, travel, and love.

The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert et al.

book cover for The Photographer

I’m a huge fan of European comics, with their large format art and varied subject matter. It’s no surprise that this flourishing comics scene produced “The Photographer.”

This work of nonfiction follows a photojournalist who traveled in war-torn Afghanistan in the 1980s. The book incorporates Didier Lefèvre’s stunning black-and-white photographs. It’s a dark but moving portrait of a tragic moment in history.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

If you’re interested in learning more about how comics creators produce their works, “Understanding Comics” is a must read.

This smart book gets into the nuts and bolts of how comics creators use art, panels, and words to tell stories. If you enjoy this volume, McCloud’s follow-up Making Comics is equally brilliant.

Six Novels in Woodcut by Lynd Ward

These two masterful volumes from an early graphic novelist push the boundaries of comics as a medium.

Beautiful woodcuts without words tell six dramatic stories about art and the American spirit. Lynd movingly tackles the political and spiritual questions of the twentieth century. These volumes also include Ward’s essays on his artform and an introduction by master comics creator Art Spiegelman.

Becky, Adult Reference, Warrenton central library 

Looking for more book lists and staff suggestions? Stop by the reference desk at your local library.  For online book lists published prior to Jan. 2015, visit Book Notes, our blog all about books.

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Kiddosphere: 2014 Favorites – Children’s Novels and Poetry

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We are so close to the 2015 Youth Media Awards announcements (just over two weeks away)! Today, I’ll tell you about my favorite children’s novels and poetry. I read 69 chapter books; here are my favorites!

I am so very tired of easy chapter books getting ignored in “Best of 2014” book lists. Writing a great read for beginning chapter book readers is difficult, and it’s a shame that they get overlooked for the 300+ paged novels. Claudia Mills has created some of the finest easy chapter books, and she continues her awesomeness in her Franklin School Friends series. Annika Riz, Math Whiz (#2 in the series) loves math, but her friends just don’t see how fun math can be! In between preparing for the library’s Sudoku competition and the school carnival, she discovers that a serious math mistake could harm the carnival festivities. Super big thumbs up for portraying enthusiasm and aptitude for math as something normal and achievable for everyone, not to mention the humor and realistic portrayals of elementary school kids. 2015 will bring two additions to this delightful series, featuring Annika’s friends, running star Izzy and spelling champ Simon.

I cannot tell you how much I adore the Bad Kitty series. Tons of humor, liberally sprinkled with illustrations to interest reluctant readers of chapter books, and educational matter seamlessly presented in inventive ways throughout the story. Bad Kitty Drawn to Trouble is quite meta, in that Bad Kitty finally goes head to head with her creator, Nick Bruel. Bad Kitty is not at all happy with how the plot progresses in her story (especially since it involves turnips). Each Bad Kitty novel includes information about the subject at hand; this one introduces children to the process of writing and illustrating books. We just received the latest Bad Kitty chapter book (2015 publication!), featuring Bad Kitty’s nemesis, Poor Puppy (this one features information about dog behavior and dog care!).

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond is a sweet, heartfelt, and believable story about a biracial girl who bridges the gap between her Caucasian mother and her African-American grandmother. Stories about children “discovering their heritage” can be preachy and boring to young readers; this has plenty of captivating characters and enough drama (but not overly so) to keep readers turning the pages.

I love, love, love Cynthia Lord (luckily, she has a forthcoming 2015 novel! squee!). Half a Chance takes place in Lord’s beloved Maine and features the importance of friendship, family, community, adventures and hobbies, as is common in Lord’s novels. Lucy’s father is an accomplished photographer, so it’s no surprise that she is a budding talented photographer. Lucy spends her summer making friends with the children in her new lakeside community (a story line involving tension with a local girl adds realistic drama) and taking photos for a nationwide photography contest. Although the conclusion stretches credulity a tad (for me), it’s a beautifully created coming of age story (and a great summertime read!).

Not only did Cynthia Lord publish the fabulous Half a Chance in 2014, but she also released a new easy chapter book series! Jelly Bean (Shelter Pet Squad #1) introduces readers to animal-loving Suzannah, who unfortunately cannot have pets due to restrictions at her apartment complex. Luckily, a community service project gives her the chance to volunteer at the local animal shelter with her friends. Lord is doing serious research for this series (she recently posted updates on her Facebook page for Shelter Pet Squad #2), and it shows. Most notably is that the children are restricted in what they can or cannot do at the shelter due to their age (i.e. no walking or feeding dogs). The financial strains in Suzannah’s life are realistically depicted, but in an age-appropriate manner. Suzannah meets a devastated little girl forced to surrender her guinea pig when her family moves and promises that she will find Jelly Bean (another adorable animal character from the creator of Hot Rod Hamster) a home; due to the issues presented in this story, it’s more mature than other easy chapter book series, but they don’t overburden the story.

Although The Lion Who Stole My Arm is a short novel (under 100 pages), don’t let its length deceive you into thinking that this is a light read. (2014 for me was all about the short novels, apparently.) Pedru’s ambitions to be a great hunter like his father are dashed when he loses an arm in a lion attack. Pedru vows to find the lion and take revenge, but will he change his mind when he finally gets the opportunity to confront the lion? Davies balances the need for the community and their livestock to be protected from the lions and the concern about encroachment upon the lions’ natural habitat. Western conservationists and community members work together and educate each other, which is the preferred working arrangement in some areas of conservation.

I love Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, and it’s really too bad that it’s not eligible for the Newbery (Karen Foxlee lives in Australia). Ophelia is a scientifically-minded eleven year old who cannot abide anything that smacks of the supernatural; finding a boy locked in the museum at which her father works turns everything upside down. I am not a huge fantasy fan, but I was bowled over by this book. (And it’s under 300 pages! It’s not a bloated fantasy novel!)

Revolution (and Deborah Wiles) may have its detractors, but I think, in spite of its flaws, it is an incredible achievement. Although I don’t think it is as strong as Countdown (the secondary material needs to be cut back), Wiles’s depiction of a young girl whose worldview is challenged by the arrival of Freedom Riders in her hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi, is authentic and incredible. Her relationship with her stepmother is one of the best depictions of a stepchild-stepparent relationship I have read in a long time. I don’t know when the conclusion of the Sixties Trilogy will be published, but I cannot wait to read it. The final pages of Revolution point to the final book taking place on the West Coast and focusing on the emerging peace movement (the trilogy started on the East Coast in New Jersey, so it makes sense that it ends on the West Coast in California).

Saving Kabul Corner is a companion novel to Shooting Kabul, but it’s not necessary to read them in order. American-born Ariana does not see eye-to-eye with cousin Laila, who recently arrived from Afghanistan. When Ariana’s family-owned Afghani grocery store faces competition from a rival store, the cousins band together to save the store. This is a richly imagined story about family and heritage, but there’s also a mystery subplot that will keep readers on edge.


I probably should have put Brown Girl Dreaming in the nonfiction post, but I needed more titles in my poetry section!  Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir in verse is an astonishing achievement in a distinguished writing career. Her memories of growing up in both rural South Carolina and urban New York City is an eye-opening account of the segregation era. Her relationships with her family, especially her grandparents, are complex and ever-changing.  This won the Young People’s Literature division of the National Book Awards, and deservedly so.

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems has won acclaim for Melissa Sweet’s vibrant illustrations; this is a Caldecott favorite for many, and it’s definitely on my short list!  This very attractive volume includes selections from classic poets such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson,  and Carl Sandburg, but also creations by modern children’s authors such as Charlotte Zolotow and Joyce Sidman.

Joyce Sidman’s poetry collections are extraordinary; not only are the poems joyous to read, but the illustrations are amazingly intricate and the short informational notes that accompany each poem are fascinating.  Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold follows animals as they prepare and endure the winter.

Next week, I’ll highlight my favorite young adult reads and graphic novels (children, young adult, and adult).

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

For book lists, reviews and staff suggestions for children published prior to January 2015, visit Kiddosphere, our blog about children/young adult fiction and non-fiction.

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Reading Riot: More Opportunities for Teen Fitness

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Teens exercising in fitness class

Last week Bealeton branch library TAG members enjoyed an energetic Teen Fitness class. If you missed that opportunity, it’s not too late to come in out of the cold and shape up! Certified fitness instructor Beth Howser is offering two more exercise and nutrition classes at our other library branches. You will learn about healthy choices and great fitness techniques you can do on your own without fancy equipment. Hosted by TAG for 6th grade and above.

Warrenton – 4:30 p.m., Monday, January 26
Marshall – 5 p.m., Tuesday, January 27

Ann, Youth Services Librarian, Bealeton branch library

For book lists, program highlights and staff suggestions for young adult readers published prior to January 2015, visit Reading Riot, our blog about the best books, events and websites for teen.

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Library Launches Redesigned Website

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Welcome to the redesigned Fauquier County Public Library website!

What’s different? The new website is mobile friendly, fully searchable and easier to navigate.  You can browse the various areas using the navigation menu located at the top of the screen (About, Events, Reading, Research, E-Media, Services, Support Us). Click on the “My account” link located at the top right corner of every page to go right to your library account. Of course, if you get stuck, you can always use the “Search our catalog/Search our website” widget at the top right corner of every page, below the “My account” link.

This redesign would not be possible without your participation in our surveys, focus groups and usability testing. We appreciate your input and look forward to your help to tweak our new site. Tell us what you think of the new design by completing a very short survey.  If you’d like to be contacted by a library staff member, please indicate in your comments and include your contact information.

We will continue to work on ways we can make the website faster and easier for library patrons and visitors. This may result in small changes to the site from time to time. We hope you enjoy the new look and look forward to ongoing improvements to our site.

Happy reading,

Fauquier County Public Library

Keep up-to-date on library news and events! Subscribe to bookmarks, our monthly eNewsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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