A place to convene with neighbors, donate those dusty spy novels and show children the merits of community service comes in a package the size of an old cranberry crate.
These Little Free Libraries, neighborhood-sponsored curbside libraries with a free, “take a book, return a book,” policy, have sprouted up in Arlington since Robert Walter installed one in his neighborhood off Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive in 2012.
“It’s better than donating to Goodwill, who will sell [the books], and it’s a way to give back to the neighborhood,” said Walter, who heard about The Little Free Library organization on Facebook.
Little Free Libraries encourage communities to contribute any books — from children’s books to novels to cookbooks — as well as to enjoy the contributions made by other neighbors.
There are now seven Little Free Libraries in Arlington, located at 3900 7th Street S., 1060 N. Liberty Street, 4706 32nd Street N., 5117 N. 27th Street, 1700 S. Edgewood Street, 6328 22nd Street N. along a section of the Four Mile Run trail, and on the grounds of Washington-Lee High School.
Last week, each library was stocked with books, including comedian David Cross’ memoir and an installment of the “Berenstain Bears” children’s series.
Much like ordinary libraries, Little Free Libraries are meant to be a community hub. However, they don’t charge late fees or require library cards, just an interest in reading and paying-it-forward.
“It’s good for poor people and the [undocumented] population who might have been intimidated by the registration process at a library, or who want to avoid potential late fees,” Walter said of his Little Free Library. “It’s also more social.”
After his proposal for a Little Free Library was approved by the homeowners’ association of his eight-residence community, Walter requested a box from Little Free Library.
Walter said his homeowners’ association paid approximately $350 for their recycled cranberry crate, its post and installation, but many communities make their own libraries rather than buying them from the organization.
“I’ve seen some really elaborate, cool designs that people have done,” Walter said. The Little Free Library website includes pictures of library “stewards” like Walter, who built their libraries to look like covered bridges or old-fashioned school houses.
More than 2,000 Little Free Libraries exist across the world. Since the organization’s beginning in Wisconsin in 2009, Little Free Library owners in Vietnam, Germany and Australia have registered their libraries on the official map.
For residents interested in installing their own, all that’s needed is the approval of the neighborhood association, access to building materials or the means to purchase a library box, and registration with Little Free Library’s map. A steward to sponsor and maintain the library is also essential.
“When I was a resident, I would just keep a box of books in the house and it was like a constant reserve,” Walter said.
Although Walter has relocated to Fairfax, and will soon transfer stewardship of his library to someone in his old neighborhood, he knows his library still gets frequent business.
“I went back there to pick up some mail, and there were books there, different ones from the last time I saw it,” Walter said.
Tomorrow (August 9) marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation from office in light of the Watergate scandal, and Central Library is marking the historic anniversary with a display of memorabilia and an author visit.
The library has a temporary display of Nixon-related items that visitors can check out through the end of the month. A private, local collector allowed the library to borrow the pieces of memorabilia covering the decades from Nixon’s 1950s vice-presidential campaign through his death in 1994. The display includes a couple dozen items including newspapers, masks and even a section of carpet from the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate — the target of the 1972 break-in that sparked a larger investigation.
The collector is particularly proud of a t-shirt from the late 1970s prompting readers to “Don’t Buy Books By Crooks.” It was part of a national campaign, started in Arlington, to encourage people not to buy Nixon’s memoirs. The headquarters for that campaign was located close to where the Ballston Metro station currently exists.
“We live in this incredibly fascinating capital area, and our national history often is also our local Arlington history in a lot of ways,” said library spokesman Peter Golkin.
On Tuesday (August 12), author Elizabeth Drew will visit the library to talk about covering the events surrounding the Watergate scandal, and about the reissue of her book “Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall.” She will reflect on Nixon’s ability to make a comeback and discuss what the scandal means in the 21st century. Copies of Drew’s book will be available for sale and signing during the event, which runs from 7:00-9:00 p.m.
“It’s a rare opportunity to hear one of the major journalists to cover Watergate speak,” said Golkin. He notes that although many Americans were focused on newspaper coverage of the scandal, Drew’s reporting was a major contribution because “her coverage in The New Yorker gave it a context you can only get from that kind of long-form journalism.”
Early last month, Arlington Public Library rolled out seven STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) kits — one for each branch — to encourage children to get hands-on experience with science in conjunction with its science-themed “Fizz, Boom, Read” summer reading program.
“The kids can come in, they can play with the kits, they can read books that correspond with the themes,” Anne Womack, the library’s youth collections librarian, said. “We saw other libraries doing this, and STEM is really important, so we thought we should do it, too. The kits are something to make kids see that science can be fun and hands on.”
The kits are for engineering (as pictured above), earth science, the human body, insects, plants, a “snap circuit” for basic electronics and weather. Each one is designed so children can play independently.
“The girl who built the bridge in that picture, she did it on her own,” Womack said. “She read the instructions and just did it. It’s just hands-on science activities for the kids, not something that has to be parent or teacher-led.”
Each kit has components for young children and late-elementary schoolers. They were paid for and partly designed by Dan Cross-Cole, a retired engineer. Womack was sitting in her office early this spring when she was told “there is a guy in the lobby looking for you.”
It was Cross-Cole, who told her he “wanted to design some science projects for kids,” Womack said. Library staff had already been discussing building the kits because they had seen them at other library systems, so Womack instantly agreed. Cross-Cole arranged to have the project paid for by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
“[Cross-Cole] was a miracle,” Womack said. “He just came to us out of the blue… [IEEE] paid for everything, and they’ve been really helpful in this process.”
The kits will rotate throughout the library system for the rest of the summer. After the summer reading program is finished, Womack said they plan to circulate them among the different branches of the library.
Photo (top) courtesy Arlington Public Library. Bottom photo courtesy Anne Womack
Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn — It’s Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn. Today commemorates the 30th anniversary of the park, which is designed to cast shadows that align with the art installation once a year, on Aug. 1. Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette is expected to speak at a celebration at the park, at 1655 Fort Myer Drive, starting at 9:00 a.m. [Rosslyn BID, Ode Street Tribune]
Roads to Close for Signature Open House — Part of Campbell Avenue in Shirlington will be closed from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday for the annual Signature Theatre open house. The event runs from noon to 10:00 p.m. and features numerous singing and theater performances, including a “Signature Idol competition.” [Signature Theatre, Arlington County]
Finding Love on Metro — Metro is D.C.’s most popular location for missed romantic connections. “There seems to be quite a lot of flirting, or at least furtive glancing, taking place on public transportation,” states the county’s Mobility Lab blog. As evidence of that, the blog interviewed Mary Rouleau, executive director of the Arlington-based Alliance for Housing Solutions, who met her husband while waiting for an Orange Line train. [Mobility Lab]
Library Seeks LEGO Creations — Arlington Public Library is seeking original creations for its 2nd annual LEGO exhibit. The exhibit is open to LEGO builders age 18 and under, and teams featuring at least one under 18 member. [Arlington Public Library]
Arlington Parkmobile Video — Arlington County has created a video showcasing its new partnership with Parkmobile, the smartphone app that allows you to pay for parking without feeding a meter. The service is currently available in Crystal City and Shirlington, and will be expanding to other parts of the county over the next 9 months or so. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
State Dept. Office Consolidation — The GSA is working with the State Department on a plan for consolidating its two offices in Rosslyn into one office in either Rosslyn, Ballston, Pentagon City or Crystal City. [Washington Business Journal]
Ohio Woman Charged in Arlington Boy’s Death — A 62-year-old woman has been charged in the death of 8-year-old Ashlawn Elementary student Eli Sachar. Police in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, have charged Christine Gregory with aggravated vehicular homicide, reckless operation and failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, after she struck Eli and his family with her car as they were crossing a street while visiting the town. [WKYC]
ACFD Training for Active Shooter at the Pentagon – The Arlington County Fire Department is training with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency on active shooter scenarios at the Pentagon. During an actual active shooter situation, under newly-updated plans, armed Pentagon Force Protection officers would escort unarmed Arlington medics into the area where the shooting was happening so they can begin medically treating the victims. [Washington Times]
Library Sends Erroneous Overdue Emails — Arlington Public Library sent erroneous emails yesterday incorrectly stating that patrons had overdue books. “We apologize for the inconvenience, and are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,” the library said on its website. “If you have any questions about what materials are actually checked out to you, you can check by logging in to your account online or at any Library location.” [Arlington Public Library]
Metro: Eight-Car Trains More Effective Than I-66 Widening — Metro says adding all-eight-car trains to the Orange Line is the capacity equivalent of widening I-66 by two lanes. “Plus, it’d likely be cheaper and faster for commuters, too,” Metro planners say. [PlanItMetro]
Fireball Seen Across Mid-Atlantic — Arlington residents and those across the mid-Atlantic saw a fireball streak across the sky last night around 10:15 p.m. Wrote one reader to ARLnow.com: “Was out on my back porch [in Lyon Park] looking west and at exactly 10:15 p.m. I saw a crazy, bright shooting star fall from North Arlington over Columbia Pike and towards the ground near Shirlington. Totally time from sighting to out of sight behind the trees was 4 seconds tops.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
A new event, “Late Night Recess,” will give Arlington residents in their 20s and 30s a free opportunity to romp around Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) in “play clothes” after closing time later this month.
The event will take place on Thursday, July 31, starting at 9:00 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to “bring their friends and inner child” to the event, which will include Nerf tag, capture the flag, Twister and homemade cookies and milk from gourmet cookie bakery Noshy.
Following the event, participants can continue to O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon, where Late Night Recess ticket-holders will get a free appetizer with a $10 purchase. The event is intended to help the library engage with the young professional set.
“The library in the 21st century goes well beyond a stack of books on the shelves,” said library spokesman Peter Golkin. “If people are looking for something that’s built around a social gathering as opposed to a book-centered gathering, then that’s what we do.”
As one of the events in the Arlington Public Library’s “Lit Up” series, Late Night Recess is aimed at young adults who want to socialize and have fun in a unique setting. However, there is no age limit for the event. Attendees should use “common sense,” and respect the library in this unique after-hours setting, Golkin said.
Current, ongoing events in the Lit Up series include the Commuter Book Club, a book club for short books that make “Metro stops or miles fly by,” and Shut Up and Write, a discussion series with a panel of authors.
Registration for Late Night Recess is currently open, and the first 50 registrants will receive a “special prize.”
Library to Host World Cup Viewing — For most of those going out in Arlington to watch this afternoon’s USA-Belgium World Cup match, a bar (or a movie theater) is the preferred venue. But if you don’t need a beer to watch the game, Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) has a free option for soccer viewing. The game, which starts at 4:00 p.m., will be projected on the big screen on the library’s first floor. Cheering and non-alcoholic drinks will be allowed in the library during the game. [Arlington Public Library]
List of 48th District Candidates Grows — More than a half dozen candidates have now tossed their hat in the ring to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48). Local Democrats are holding firehouse primaries in the race this weekend in Arlington and McLean. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington’s Traffic Paradox — Despite large gains in population and density, traffic on Arlington roads has actually decreased over the past couple of decades. How is that possible? “Virtually all the growth has happened in Arlington’s Metrorail corridors, where using transit, biking, and walking are the norm.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Another Flash Flood Watch — It’s Friday the 13th and Arlington is under another Flash Flood Watch today. The watch is in effect from noon through 10:00 p.m. Forecasters say an approaching cold front will spawn scattered showers and thunderstorms, some of which will be strong and result in very heavy rain. [National Weather Service]
Library to Launch Tool Lending – Arlington residents will soon be able to use their library cards to borrow garden tools from Arlington Central Library. The library is currently looking for volunteers to run and maintain its new “tool library,” which was established after being set as a priority by the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force last year. [Arlington Public Library]
Va. Lawmakers Pass Budget After Impasse — Republicans in the Virginia Senate passed a budget Thursday night that thwarts an expansion of Medicaid, which had been sought by Democrats. Republicans were able to pass the budget after a Democratic lawmaker resigned and shifted the balance of power in the Senate to the GOP. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
‘KidicalMass’ Bike Ride Sunday — For Father’s Day, a group of parents and their kids will be taking part in a “KidicalMass” bike ride from Hayes Park to Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream in Clarendon Sunday evening. [Blogspot]
Blues Fest Road Closures — The annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival will be held Saturday and several road closures, including the closure of Walter Reed Drive north of Columbia Pike, are planned as a result. The road closures will be in effect from about 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Police Locate Autistic Man With Lojack — The Arlington County Police Department’s Lojack-powered Project Lifesaver has helped locate another missing man. A 29-year-old autistic man who wandered away from his group home was located by police Wednesday morning, less than an hour after he was reported missing. [Arlington County]
APS Receives Award — Arlington Public Schools has received “the prestigious Medallion of Excellence Award presented by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Awards for Virginia and the District of Columbia (SPQA).” APS is the ninth Virginia school division to be recognized since the award was established in 1983. [Arlington Public Schools]
W-L Advances to State Tourney — Washington-Lee High School’s boys soccer team defeated West Potomac 4-2 Tuesday night to advance to the 6A North Region title game and to the Virginia High School League state tournament. [InsideNova]
Library Digitizing Local Newspapers — Arlington Public Library is digitizing its microfilm archive of the Northern Virginia Sun newspaper, originally named the Arlington Sun. The new digital archives will be text searchable, “a boon for researchers, history buffs and anyone searching for specific moments in Arlington’s 20th century story.” The archives cover 1935 to 1978. [Arlington Public Library]
County Bureau Runs ‘Like a Startup’ – Arlington County Commuter Services, which is charged with getting more Arlington residents and workers to bike, walk or take transit rather than drive, “looks and operates more like a start-up tech company than a government agency.” [Mobility Lab]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
County Releases Development Report — Arlington County has issued its Development Tracking Report for the first quarter of 2014. In Q1, the County Board approved 170,834 square feet of office space, 4,280 square feet of retail, 387 apartment units, and 161 hotel rooms. [Arlington County]
Library Honors Outstanding Volunteers — Arlington Public Library has presented its annual Outstanding Volunteer of the Year awards. The awards went to Deborah Jones, who helps to manage nine book clubs, and to the Talking Books and Homebound Services team. [Arlington Public Library]
Pot Group Releases Video for Ebbin – NORML PAC, which is working to legalize marijuana in the U.S., has released a video in support of state Sen. Adam Ebbin’s run for Congress. Ebbin is one of seven candidates campaigning for the Democratic primary on June 10. In addition to marijuana advocates, Ebbin has received endorsements from County Board Chair Jay Fisette, three Arlington School Board members, and the local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Laborers’ International Union of North America. [YouTube]
Today’s National Security Agency is housed in a sprawling complex in Fort Meade, Md., but, according to a recent lecturer at Arlington Public Library, domestic surveillance by the NSA was perhaps born in Arlington.
Arlington Hall — located off Route 50 between S. Glebe Road and George Mason Drive — was the site of the U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Service (SIS), which became part of the newly-formed National Security Agency in the early 1950s, Robarge said. The Army bought Arlington Hall, which was formerly the site of the Arlington Hall Junior College for Women, in 1943.
Arlington Hall was where the SIS launched a top-secret project called VENONA (which was declassified in the mid-1990s), helmed by Col. Carter Clark.
Clark realized “after World War II was over and we were done fighting the Germans, the Japanese, the Italians and others, we’d eventually be fighting the Russians,” Robarge said. “So he said ‘let’s start watching them very closely, looking at their intelligence communications to see what they’re up to inside the United States.’”
Robarge said Clark assembled a team of linguists and mathematicians in Arlington Hall to break Russian codes. In total, VENONA uncovered more than 300 operatives of the Soviet Union in the federal government, working in the White House, Justice Department and the Manhattan Project.
“If it was involved in national security and the war effort,” Robarge said, “the Soviets had some kind of penetration inside there.”
VENONA uncovered the spying of alleged traitors Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and several others, none of whom could be convicted of treason because VENONA evidence was classified and “couldn’t be used to arrest anyone,” Robarge said.
VENONA was infiltrated by Soviet spies in the late 1940s and officially went dark in 1949, Robarge said. By then, however, the Army’s intelligence service was firmly established at Arlington Hall, which would one day also launch the Defense Intelligence Agency, which departed the facility in 1984 and for Bolling Air Force Base.
The Department of Defense transferred a portion of the facility to the Department of State, and in 1993 the National Foreign Affairs Training Center opened at Arlington Hall.
Photo (bottom) courtesy Arlington Public Library
Shuttleworth Drops Out of Congressional Race — Arlington resident Bruce Shuttleworth has dropped out of the still-crowded race for Congress. There are now 7 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. Jim Moran. Of those, 6 are from Alexandria and only Del. Patrick Hope is from Arlington. [Blue Virginia]
Garvey Phones It In, Literally — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey, who was injured on Friday in a bicycle accident, voted and participated in Tuesday’s County Board meeting via phone. It’s the first time that has been done in Arlington — Virginia law only recently changed to allow board members to participate in meetings via phone in certain circumstances. [InsideNova]
Clarendon Church Turns 105 — The Church at Clarendon (1210 N. Highland Street) will celebrate its 105th anniversary on Sunday. The church will hold a special anniversary worship service at 11:00 a.m. Originally formed as Clarendon Baptist Church in 1909, the church has seen many changes in its 105 years. One recent change was the new sanctuary that was completed in 2012, as part of a controversial deal that added an 8-story affordable apartment complex above the church.
High Streetcar Ridership Projected — While critics bash the combined $585 million estimated cost of the Crystal City and Columbia Pike streetcar lines, streetcar proponents are calling attention to ridership projections. With 37,100 daily riders by 2035, the combined streetcar system is projected to serve more riders than MARC, VRE and the light rail systems in Baltimore, San Jose, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Houston, Seattle and Norfolk. [Greater Greater Washington]
Truck Day at the Library on Saturday – Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) is again inviting children “to get up-close and personal with a menagerie of trucks and buses” in the library parking lot. Truck Day will take place from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Saturday. There will also be transportation-related crafts inside the library auditorium. The library is warning nearby residents to expect to hear some noise from the trucks and the kids during the event. [Arlington Public Library]
Two Drop Out of Congressional Race — Del. Charniele Herring and entrepreneur Satish Korpe have dropped out of the race to replace the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) in Congress. There are now eight candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in the June 10 primary. [Washington Post]
Bike ‘Fix-It’ Stands Being Installed in Arlington — Arlington County has been installing stations where bicyclists can change a flat tire, add air, or adjust brakes and derailleurs free of charge. The stands have been installed in Clarendon and Ballston and one is coming soon to Pentagon City. [Greater Greater Washington]
School Officials Worry About Debt Ceiling — Arlington’s student body is growing by 700 students per year, but Arlington Public Schools is in danger of hitting its legal debt ceiling as it continues to build more schools and school additions to keep up with rising enrollment. Going forward, at least one School Board member is publicly hoping for more money from the county government. [InsideNova]
GMU Students Make Transportation Recommendations – In an 80 page report, graduate students from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy say that Arlington County should continue investing in transportation in order to “stay ahead of the curve.” Arlington, the students say, should “follow more of the international urban-planning trends rather than just those that are happening in other U.S. cities.” [Mobility Lab]
Fourth Grader Makes Case for Libraries — In a hand-written letter to Arlington library staff, an Arlington Traditional School fourth grader by the name of Lillian said she loves books and libraries. Despite talk of younger generations only being interested in iPads, smartphones and other electronics — instead of old-fashioned print — Lillian says she “can’t even list” all the reasons why she likes Arlington Central Library. [Arlington Public Library]
Free People to Open Next Week — The “bohemian” women’s clothing store Free People will open next Friday (May 16) at the Pentagon City mall. The 3,200 square foot boutique is the company’s 94th retail store and the fourth in the D.C. area. [PRWeb]
Bike and Walk to School Day — Today is Bike and Walk to School Day for Arlington Public Schools. Children and parents were encouraged to seek people-powered transportation to school to teach students “about the health and environmental benefits of biking and walking.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Make-A-Wish Star’s Video Released – Addy, the 5-year-old who shot part of a music video in Rosslyn after her wish to become a pop star was granted by Make-A-Wish, has had her video released on YouTube. The video is a cover of the Katy Perry song “Roar.” Addy is suffering from a Wilms Tumor, a form of kidney cancer. [YouTube]
Entrepreneurial Author to Speak at Library – U.S. News & World Report senior money editor Kimberly Palmer will discuss her book “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life” tonight at 7:00 at Arlington Central Library. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
Advice for Vihstadt — Dave Foster, a Republican elected to two full terms on the Arlington School Board starting in 1999, has some advice for the newly-elected County Board member John Vihstadt. In order for Vihstadt to win re-election and a full term in November, he will need to practice “thoughtful and independent decision-making, hard work and constant community outreach,” Foster said. [InsideNoVa]
‘Brave’ Moran Loses Two Votes — Retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D) is taking some bold but symbolic stances in his last term. Moran was one of “two brave Democrats” who voted for a doomed interpretation of President Obama’s budget, as floated by House Republicans for the express purpose of getting Democrats to vote against it. Moran also lost his bid to raise pay for members of Congress; the proposal died in committee. [Washington Times, Associated Press]
Road Closures for Parade — Parts of Walter Reed Drive, Four Mile Run and George Mason Drive will be closed Sunday morning and afternoon for the Carnival de Oruro Parade. [Arlington County]
Library Extends DVD Renewals – Arlington Public Library is now letting patrons renew DVDs twice, meaning the maximum rental period is now 21 days. [Arlington Public Library]
Del. Brink Finds 13 to Be Unlucky – Was it a coincidence? Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) was 13th in seniority in the Virginia House of Delegates this year. And as he was putting his “13″ specialty license plate on his car (such plates are issued to lawmakers annually by the state), his pliers slipped and gouged a deep cut in his finger. One fellow lawmaker, however, opined that the bad luck was actually because Brink had just, by virtue of timing, introduced House Bill 666. [InsideNoVa]