Arlington VA Public Library

Arlington VA Public Library The Arlington Public Library provides free access to information, creates connections among people and promotes reading and culture. Arlington County's Social Media General Terms of Use:

In 1936 Arlington County - population 40,000 - had 74 farms, 25 businesses, two ten-cent stores, one theater, one post office, and five community libraries. Four of the libraries - Aurora Hills, Cherrydale, Clarendon (which closed when Central was built) and Columbia Pike - had been established by citizen groups, while Glencarlyn had been built as the result of a bequest. All housed collections of mostly donated books and were operated by volunteers. Realizing the advantages of combining their forces, the groups organized the Arlington County Library Association in 1936. The County Board appropriated $3,000 for the new library association in July of 1936, so each library could buy at least two encyclopedias and an unabridged dictionary. The following year, the Department of Libraries was established as part of the county government, and the first librarian was hired. In 1944, the Holmes branch was added for the benefit of the African American citizens of Arlington. It was located within the George Washington Carver housing project at 13th and South Queen. It closed in 1950 when the project was razed to make way for new housing. In response to the Library's need for more space, work began on the Arlington Central Library in 1960 - this was Arlington County's first publicly financed library construction. Central Library opened in 1961, and additions were added to the 1st floor in 1967 and the second floor in 1968. The most recent renovation took place from 1990-1994, resulting in the present layout.

Mission: The Arlington Public Library provides free access to information, creates connections among people and promotes reading and culture--for every Arlingtonian and other patrons. Please read Arlington County's Social Media General Terms of Use:


Lumber on over for Bear Storytime with Miss Cindy today!

Live From Diane's Living Room, Episode 3 Promo

The Arlingtunes are back with an all new cover of "This Little Light of Mine," reminding us all to let it "shine, shine shine."

And tune in next week for Diane's interview with the marvelous Kitty Clark Stevenson.

Book Covers featuring Carly Harvey

Join us for a music and literary-infused watch party on August 20, at 7:30 p.m.

Musician Carly Harvey will take viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour talking about her musical roots ranging from Blues, Jazz, Soul and Americana. She touches upon what it means to be of afro-indigenous heritage, talks about her favorite Native American authors and performs a lovely new song.

Harvey will be present to take audience questions during the presentation.

Book Covers showcases artists and their creative processes, alongside the books and stories that inspired them. This a collaboration between Arlington Arts and Arlington Public Library, the intersection where people, art and ideas meet.

The Early History of Arlington’s LibrariesArlington’s Libraries have been a mainstay of the county landscape for generat...

The Early History of Arlington’s Libraries

Arlington’s Libraries have been a mainstay of the county landscape for generations – but how did the library system as we know it come to be?

Before the year 1936, Arlington County had been served by five independent libraries: Glencarlyn, Cherrydale, Clarendon, Aurora Hills, and Arlington/Columbia Pike. These were volunteer-led efforts run independently rather than as a unilateral system, and that individually received limited financial support from the County. These locations were largely established and managed by women members of the Arlington community.

In 1936 however, the Public Library system changed forever. A group of citizens and representatives from those five libraries joined together to form a collective Countywide system and to appeal for increased County financial support. Four delegates from each branch as well as four delegates at large met to discuss the possibility of a cohesive, singular library system and what that would entail.

A year later, in 1937, the newly formed Arlington County Library Association began work to establish Arlington’s first library system. In its early days, the Association completed a survey of the County’s libraries, population, and resources to help guide their planning process. The group also conducted an “educate-your-county-officials” campaign, and eventually won their support. The County Manager at the time, Frank Hanrahan, agreed to their proposal under the condition that the proposed branches would need to meet ALA standards.

The group also voted unanimously to hire a professional librarian to oversee the formation of the library system. The County government later designated $3,500 to the libraries', $3,000 of which was for operational costs and $500 to pay the salary of the hired librarian.

In July of 1937, Eleanor Leonard was hired for the librarian position. Among her efforts to standardize and streamline the library system, she discarded damaged material, cataloged the library’s holdings, and trained volunteers in all aspects of library work. By the fall of 1939, the five libraries had been standardized, while the daily work of running the libraries continued to be done by volunteers. By July 1938, 11,328 books had been reclassified and cataloged according to American Library Association standards.

About a decade later, in 1949, eight branches were in operation, among them: Aurora Hills, Cherrydale, Clarendon, Columbia Pike, Glen Carlyn, Holmes, Shirlington (formerly Fairlington), and Westover branches.

The Holmes branch closed in 1949, and the Clarendon location became the Central Library, while the rest of the branches continue to stand where they are today, ready to serve their respective local communities again once the pandemic is over.

The weather outside may be frightful, but Oscar keeps the shelving on track.

The weather outside may be frightful, but Oscar keeps the shelving on track.


Worried about the incoming weather? Stop by Central Library to pick up your holds today until 7 p.m - we’ll be happy to see you!
(And don’t forget to drop off your returns in the book drop before entering the Auditorium.)

It's a Summer Book Sale Surprise!The Friends of the Arlington Public Library, Arlington Virginia  are holding a mini boo...

It's a Summer Book Sale Surprise!

The Friends of the Arlington Public Library, Arlington Virginia are holding a mini book sale tomorrow - Saturday, August 1 - at the Courthouse Farmer’s Market, starting at 8 a.m. This pop-up will feature recent popular titles, cookbooks, kids’ reading and more. Hardbacks - $2 / Softcovers - $1

Out of respect for the all-volunteer team and other shoppers, the Friends ask that you wear a face covering and maintain a safe social distance while browsing the sale.

BIG NEWS! FOAL is holding a SURPRISE mini book sale, this Saturday at the Courthouse Farmer’s Market! This pop-up will feature an amazing collection of recent titles, cookbooks, kids’ reading, and more. Simple pricing: hardbacks are $2 and softcovers are just $1! Donations welcome and t-shirts/market bags will also be for sale. All proceeds will go to our beloved Arlington VA Public Library! Please come out to support.

Note: out of respect for our all-volunteer team and other patrons, please maintain distance and wear a face covering while shopping.

Live From Diane's Living Room, Episode 2

Live from Diane's Living Room: Episode 2 is finally here!

We were so lucky to be joined by Liane Rozzell from #RestorativeArlington. If you would like to learn more about Restorative Justice and find ways to particpate, visit

And you voted - the Live from Diane's Living Room house band will now be called the Arlingtunes. Come back right here next week to hear the Arlingtunes' new song!

Celebrating Dark Star ParkEmbedded between the office buildings, businesses, and roadways of Rosslyn is a unique piece o...

Celebrating Dark Star Park

Embedded between the office buildings, businesses, and roadways of Rosslyn is a unique piece of public art - Dark Star Park. Each summer, at approximately 9:30 a.m. on August 1, morning light strikes the objects that make up the sculpture to create an eclipse-like effect, which lasts - much like a real eclipse - only for a few minutes.

How did this unusual public sculpture come to be?

[Watch: Dark Star Park 35th Anniversary Celebration – this Arlington TV feature showcases the August 1st, 2019, alignment of light and shadow at the park, and is accompanied by an original score from local artists Janel and Anthony. ]

Built in 1984, Dark Star Park is placed at the entry to the Rosslyn neighborhood, in 0.4 acre triangle formed by the intersection of North Fort Myer Drive, North Lynn Street, and N. Meade Street. It was constructed on the site of a former gas station and was designed to commemorate the anniversary of the purchase by William Henry Ross of land that would later become Rosslyn (Ross served as the neighborhood's namesake).

Artist Nancy Holt (1938-2014), who was chosen to helm the project in 1979, was somewhat apprehensive about the project upon entering Rosslyn, in part because the site was a vacant lot overrun with trash. In a 1988 documentary she said, “I was overwhelmed with how cold and distant a place Rosslyn was … It’s a concrete network here with very little thought about human beings, human scale, human maneuverability.”

Dark Star Park combines elements of landscape architecture, sculpture, and astronomy. The piece is comprised of five gunite (air-placed concrete) spheres resembling fallen, extinguished stars, as well as two pools, four steel poles, and two tunnels.

Dark Star Park was commissioned by Arlington County during a transitional time in Rosslyn - the Metro had recently arrived in Arlington, and development was still on the rise. The County funded the project with $200,000 from public and private sources, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts grant. (DCist, July 30, 2019)

Holt oversaw every aspect of the park’s design and development, and also served as a contractor on the project. She was a preeminent member of the land art movement, which rose to recognition in the 1970s. While practitioners of this style mainly concentrated in open natural spaces – places that could easily accommodate the monumental scale of the works associated with the movement – Holt’s work in Dark Star Park was unique due to its urban setting. In terms of her design approach, Holt said:

“I feel that the need to look at the sky—at the moon and the stars—is very basic, and it is inside all of us. So when I say my work is an exteriorization of my own inner reality, I mean I am giving back to people through art what they already have in them.”

The creation of Dark Star Park marked a significant first for the Arlington area: it was the first work of public art produced by the County. This was prior to the establishment of the County’s formal public art program that was inaugurated with the adoption of a Public Art Policy – nearly 16 years after the creation of Dark Star Park.

In the decades since, Arlington’s public art program has become a robust part of the County landscape.

Dark Star Park itself is also one of the first national examples of “integrated public art,” meaning that the art in the public site is inseparable from its setting and is a total environment to be experienced holistically.

Holt planned the design of Dark Star Park using miniature clay models. She worked with astrophysicists to determine the placement of the spheres and poles to align with the light at exactly 9:32 a.m. on the August 1 anniversary – a time of day chosen simply because Holt enjoyed the way the light hit at that moment. The need for exactness in alignment was in part why the park underwent a renovation in 2002, allowing Holt to reorient the spheres that had shifted over the years due to the changes in the Earth’s axis.

One common mistake about Dark Star Park Day is that the August 1 alignment is meant to celebrate the birthday of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. This assumption is compounded by the coincidence of the band’s song titled “Dark Star.”

[Watch: NewsMakers: Dark Star Park – an Arlington TV feature on Dark Star Park from 2009, including a speech from Nancy Holt. ]


Librarians During COVID-19 - Jennifer O.

Everyone Counts! A Census Storytime from Arlington County

I count, you count, Miss Anne counts too! Everyone counts in the 2020 Census. Have you been counted yet? Getting counted is directly correlated to determining a fair number of congressional seats and allocating federal and state funding for programs in Arlington County such as housing, education, and human services.

Is your household counted? If not, take 10 minutes and fill out the Census TODAY at If you’ve already completed your form, make sure to tell a friend, family member, or neighbor. Remember, EVERYONE COUNTS!

"Live From Diane's Living Room" Episode 2 - Promo

Help us name our "Live From Diane's Living Room" house band!

Introducing our new house band! React with an emoji to cast your vote and help us name them. Have a better name? Post your suggestion in the comments below.

👍 = The Arlingtunes
❤️ = Diane and the Speed Readers
😆 = The TriTunz

The name will be announced next Friday during the new episode of "Live From Diane's Living Room" featuring Liane Rozzell from #RestorativeArlington.

Fun in the Sun: Summer’s of Arlington’s PastArlington may not come to mind when you think of a beachy oasis, but in the ...

Fun in the Sun: Summer’s of Arlington’s Past

Arlington may not come to mind when you think of a beachy oasis, but in the 1920s, we had one of the region’s premier beaches right here.

The Arlington Beach and Amusement Park opened on May 30, 1923, on the Potomac River in the area near the Fourteenth Street Bridge (then known as Long Bridge). For nearly a decade, this was a go-to spot on a hot Arlington day.

The beach was an immensely popular Arlington spot, with crowds of up to 12,000 during the most sweltering days, according to Arlington Magazine. The location featured both a sandy beach on the shores of the Potomac as well as bathhouses and the accompaniments of a full-scale amusement park: a merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, aerial swings, a rollercoaster called “The Whip,” and a ride called “The Dodgem.” Swimmers could use the beach’s diving board and swim at night under searchlights.

The park’s dance pavilion was also one of its major draws in its opening season, providing a spot for people of all ages to spend summer evenings – the Washington Jazz Orchestra even performed here. In line with the rising car culture of the early 20th century, the park also advertised extensive parking facilities – important to draw customers from all around the region.

It’s notable that as popular as the Arlington Beach was, it was among the many segregated recreational areas in the County. Even though it was located near predominantly African American neighborhoods, including East Arlington and Queen City, the beach and amusement park were segregated for the duration of their existence.

According to a research project on segregation in Arlington conducted by Lindsey Bestebreurtje at George Mason University: “County resident James ‘Jimmy’ Taylor recalled that Black children swam ‘in a creek on Route 50 called Blue Man Junction.’” African American Arlingtonians were also not permitted to use public pools, and the county’s first pool to allow African American children wouldn’t open up until the 1960s.

Interview with Ruth Jones

In a 1999 oral history interview with Ingrid Kauffman, Ruth Jones described going to the beach as a teenager. Born in March of 1913, Ruth began to visit Arlington Beach around 1927.

Narrator: Ruth Jones
Interviewer: Ingrid Kauffman
Date: March 23, 1999

Ingrid Kaufman: And so can you tell us about Arlington Beach?

Ruth Jones: Well, I was just a young girl, 14 or 15 years old and I met my husband, well, he eventually was my husband.

IK: What was his name?

RJ: Raymond Jones. And he lived in Washington. And we started going to Glen Echo and to Arlington Beach and just having a good time for kids, you know. And so they had a roller coaster, a carousel.

IK: How much did that roller coaster cost?

RJ: Ten cents. A ride at your own risk. That’s the truth, too. It was rickety. After I came to Washington, it was only there for 2 years, 2 or 3 years, then they tore it down.

IK: They tore down the roller coaster?

RJ: Everything. And shut the beach down and all, to put the airport there.

As Jones describes, the location was eventually compromised by the construction of the nearby Hoover Airport. The traffic at the airfield grew to include both passenger and mail air service, which provided disruptive to the festivities of the beachgoers and park attendees. The Hoover airfield was also notoriously dangerous – and the aviation industry notoriously unregulated at this point – so the proximity of the beach and park also became a safety issue.

In 1929, the Washington Air Corporation bought the beach property in order to expand the Washington Airport, which later merged with the Hoover Airport as the Washington-Hoover Airport. However, with the construction of the Washington National Airport (now Ronald Reagan), the Washington-Hoover Airport closed. The former beach grounds were then purchased by the U.S. Department of War and became part of the Pentagon.

This article was expanded from previous articles on Arlington Beach from 2008 and 2017.

Since the library re-opened, many of you have been asking questions about library services and how we are operating in t...

Since the library re-opened, many of you have been asking questions about library services and how we are operating in this new normal.

To pick up your materials on hold, come to the 10th street parking lot at Central Library and follow the signs to the auditorium.

Summer Reading Photo Challenge: Dress Like Your Favorite Book CharacterSometimes a story is so good you feel like you’re...

Summer Reading Photo Challenge: Dress Like Your Favorite Book Character

Sometimes a story is so good you feel like you’re living in it... Share your best impression of a favorite book characters - like librarian Emily's kiddo, dressed here as Kiki, from "Kiki's Delivery Service" - and you could win a Barnes & Noble gift card!
Learn more and submit your entry on the Library website:


1015 N Quincy St
Arlington, VA


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Our Story

Arlington Public Library promises to:

• inspire and quench your thirst to know. • encourage you to ask why and why not? • embrace inclusion and diverse points of view. • be a wellspring for ideas, for conversation, for disagreement, for enlightenment. • create opportunities for an increased understanding: of our world, of our community and of each other.

We will do all of this with good will, humor and kindness. Through books and community programs. Within our walls and outside in the community.

We are here for you.