Arlington officials say it is no longer public-health concerns, but budget issues, that are keeping most of the county’s libraries locked up tight.
And it’s likely most of them will stay that way for months to come.
“Community health metrics are not the driving factor in regard to opening additional locations and services,” library officials said in an e-mail to patrons last week. “The county [government] has been under a hiring freeze for more than one year. Libraries cannot open additional locations or services with current staffing levels.”
The missive notes that County MaCounty: nager Mark Schwartz has provided exceptions to the hiring freeze, “with a goal” to restart more library operations at the beginning of the county’s new fiscal year in July.
Currently, only Shirlington and Westover libraries are open to patrons for limited services during reduced hours and with restricted occupancy, and Central Library is open only for book pickup. All other branches are closed, as they have been for 13 months.
Neighboring Fairfax County, which presumably has roughly the same health and government-budget considerations as Arlington, reopened all its branches last summer, and after a brief re-closure over the winter when COVID cases spiked in the region, they are again all open.