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ArlingtonCelebration to mark rebirth of Columbia Pike library

Celebration to mark rebirth of Columbia Pike library

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Arlington officials will celebrate a library milestone today with the reopening of a renovated Columbia Pike Library.

The event is slated for Thursday, July 8 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the library, located adjacent to the Arlington Career Center at 816 South Walter Reed Drive. The community is invited.

(Because of expected weather conditions, much of the planned outdoor celebration could be moved indoors.)

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Renovation of the Columbia Pike branch had been in the works since before the pandemic. A partnership between the county government and school system, the revamped library has room for 20,000 items in its collection, 20 computer stations and four meeting rooms.

“The renovated Columbia Pike library will resume its role as a community anchor, welcoming of everyone,” library director Diane Kresh said.

The reopening celebration will include music and other performances, giveaways and more. It is sponsored by Friends of the Arlington Library.

A proposal for a major renovation of the Columbia Pike branch had been in the works for more than a decade. At one point, there was consideration of moving library services from the eastern to the western ends of Columbia Pike, but Arlington leaders ultimately opted against it.

County officials announced June 7 that Central Library and Aurora Hills and Columbia Pike branch libraries would reopen July 6 after being closed for more than a year. A decision on operating days and hours, and the exact level of services that will be available to patrons, is slated to be announced July 1.

They will be the third through fifth libraries to reopen nearly 16 months after the onset of the pandemic sent the Arlington government into lockdown mode.

While Shirlington and Westover branch libraries have been reopened (in reduced capacities) for several months, all other facilities have been locked up tight, with county officials first blaming health conditions and then pivoting to say the local government (with a $1.4 billion annual budget) was too broke and lacked the staff to bring library services back.

Arlington’s efforts stand in contrast to neighboring Fairfax, where libraries have been open since last summer (although they did close for a period during a spike in COVID cases over the winter) and most restrictions on library use are in the rear-view mirror.

Two more Arlington branch libraries – Cherrydale and Glencarlyn – will remain closed until the fall. The Courthouse Plaza branch remains closed, but that is unrelated to COVID as there are plans in the works for expansion and renovation of the facilities.

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