Arlington, VA

Two Arlington County library branches are reopening for “express service” next month.

The Shirlington and Westover branches will open their doors on Tuesday, March 9 for the first time in almost exactly one year.

Patrons will be limited to 15 minutes of in-person browsing, though there’s a possibility of expanding to 30 minutes depending on “patron demand.”

While only self-service checkout will be available, several library employees will be on-site at each branch to help with way-finding and account management. Holds pick-up will also be available.

Henrik Sundqvist, spokesperson for the Arlington Public Library, says this is a step in the library’s phased approach to reopening.

“With this express library service model, we are excited to reopen and reconnect with our communities,” he said.

In November, the Arlington County Board approved spending $170,000 to bring back temporary employees and fund the reopening of these two branches for express service. However, the original plan was to reopen in January and to allow up to 30 minutes of browsing.

Anne Gable, Arlington Public Library’s deputy director, says that in November the details were still being worked out. Staff thinks shortening it to 15 minute blocks meets patron demand better.

The delay from January to March, says Gable, was due to a spike in cases after the holidays and continued community spread of the virus.

For the express service, library staff on-location will be a mix of temporary and permanent employees. Due to the county’s hiring freeze enacted last March, the library has not been able to fill vacant positions. However, the allotted $170,000 will fund bringing back a number of temporary employees that were let go in the spring.

No Arlington County library has been fully open since March 2020 due to the pandemic. Only Central Library has remained open for limited pick-up of holds placed online, a “more labor-intensive model” than normal due to health and safety protocols, including quarantining returned books for 72 hours.

Sundqvist says that library staff have heard from the public about how much they want the libraries to fully re-open, but are remaining cautious.

“It was a hard, difficult decision for us to close [back in March 2020],” says Sundqvist. “It’s important when we do re-open that it’s sustainable and we don’t have to close down again.”

The express library service at two branches is a way to re-open safely while remaining pared down, he said. There’s no timeline yet for the reopening of the other branches in the system, though six locations are currently available for book-drop off only.

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Morning Notes

VHC Cancels Vaccine Appointments — “One of the main COVID-19 vaccine providers in Arlington, Virginia had to cancel about 10,000 appointments for people scheduled to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine because there wasn’t enough supply. Virginia Hospital Center was operating a vaccine clinic at the Walter Reed Community Center for residents 75 and older, but Friday the Virginia Department of Health announced that going forward, allotments of vaccine will only go to local health districts” [NBC 4, Arlington County]

Most VHC Staff Has Been Vaccinated — “Among the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccines have been front-line medical providers, and in the first weeks of availability, almost 8,000 doses have been administered to those in the Virginia Hospital Center community. ‘The COVID vaccines have been well-received, and I would guesstimate that about 70 percent of Virginia Hospital Center employees and medical staff have received at least the first dose of the vaccine,’ said David Lee, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer at the hospital.” [InsideNova]

School Reopening Metrics Improving — From Arlington School Board Vice Chair Barbara Kanninen: “Arlington’s school metrics remain in the ‘highest risk’ category for cases but secondary metrics continue to improve. Keep it up, Arlington. We appear to be past the holiday peak, which is great news.” [Twitter]

School Opening Protest Draws Crowd — ” After more than 300 days of virtual learning, some Arlington Public Schools families are demanding a return to the classroom for their students. About 150 people came out for the Arlington Parents for Education’s rally Saturday at Quincy Park, where both parents and students spoke about the hardships they’ve faced with virtual learning.” [WUSA 9, Fox 5]

Central Library Closed Due to COVID CaseUpdated at 9:25 a.m. — “Central Library’s Holds Pickup Service will close at 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 24 and will remain closed on Monday, January 25 after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. This staff member did not have recent contact with the general public and there is no concern for exposure to library patrons.” [Facebook]

Snow Expected Tonight — “Precipitation breaks out sometime after 3 p.m., probably starting as light rain before changing to a sleet/snow mix. Mixed precipitation will continue to fall lightly through midnight, probably changing back to light rain overnight. High temperatures in the mid- to upper 30s. Accumulations in the D.C. metro area will be mostly confined to grassy surfaces.” [Capital Weather Gang]

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Morning Notes

Free T-Ball This Spring — “Arlington Babe Ruth (ABR) is now offering free T-Ball to boys and girls ages 4-6. ABR recognizes that young players will try multiple sports in order to see what sticks, so we’ve eliminated registration fees for the youngest players. The free ABR Blastball and T-Ball programs are excellent ways to introduce boys and girls to baseball, using simple drills, a soft ball and lightweight bats, and a fun-oriented approach that teaches the rules while building enjoyment for the game.” [Arlington Babe Ruth]

Most-Read Arlington Library Books — “These are the books Arlington readers turned to the most in 2020. Unsurprisingly, many top fiction titles were part of a series, and many top nonfiction titles reflect a yearning for social justice and a desire for human connection.” [Arlington Public Library]

Virtual Meetings Lead to More Participation — “The Electoral Board was actually in the midst of conducting a meeting in March when the county government began battening the hatches and closing facilities while the COVID crisis was taking hold. Its meetings since then have been conducted on an electronic platform. There is a plus side to that. ‘Attendance has certainly increased – it has more than tripled,’ county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]

GW Parkway Lane Change — “Years of side-swiping, rear-ending and near misses have prompted traffic pattern changes to crash-prone sections of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Interstate 395. Northbound traffic on the George Washington Parkway is permanently narrowed into a single lane at the crosswalk near Memorial Bridge.” [WTOP]

New Year Video from Arlington Children’s Chorus — “Watch this video of a song we wrote and performed that we did to bring some good cheer to the local community this holiday season… After all our festive activities were cancelled, writing a song trying to capture a little bit of the spirit of the season was a way to let our children’s voices be heard. It’s been amazing how much joy has blossomed from such a difficult situation!” [YouTube]

Distinction for Arlington Biotech Firm — “[Arlington-based] Kerecis is the fastest growing company in the regenerative-tissue market in the United States according to SmartTRAK Business Intelligence, which compared industry-sales and market-share data for 3Q 2020 to 3Q 2019.” [Kerecis]

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Morning Notes

Day Laborer Site Now Closed — “Although not unexpected, mid-November nonetheless brought something of an end of an era to the Shirlington Employment and Education Center, better known as SEEC. The pavilion area in Shirlington that the organization had used since 2003 to connect day-laborers with contractors and homeowners who sought their services has been fenced off in preparation for changes to Jennie Dean Park, where it is located.” [InsideNova]

Tonight: Outdoor Art in Crystal City — “Walk along Crystal Drive on December 2nd from 6-9PM to see the words of Luisa A. Igloria, Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia projected onto the facade of 2011 Crystal Drive as the opening installation of Arlington Art’s Visual Verse. Their work will be brought to life by noted artist Robin Bell.” [National Landing BID]

Beyer Blasts Proposed Metro Cuts — From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.): “The proposed WMATA budget cuts would be apocalyptic for Metro service and devastate its workforce. This catastrophe must not be allowed to happen, and Congress can prevent it by passing a new aid package. WMATA is not alone in its massive funding shortfall, which is a direct result of the pandemic. Cuts like this will hit across the country without robust aid for state and local governments and specific targeted funding for transit.” [Press Release]

ABC Store Coming to Pentagon Row — “It’s official: you will be able to buy booze in the former local Bloomberg campaign office in Pentagon City.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Tree Lighting — “Thanks @ABC7Kidd for starting the countdown at tonight’s neighborhood tree lighting!” [Twitter]

Library Director’s Xmas Playlist — “For the past 13 years, I have published a ‘Too Cool for Yule’ playlist, as my love letter to the County and the people we serve. And while (sadly) Spotify has replaced the cassette tape, making the process easier, like much of 2020, this playlist was more difficult than ever to create.” [Arlington Public Library]

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Restaurants Get Ready for Winter — “On November 6, TTT’s expansive rooftop bar unveiled a permanent structure with a retractable roof and sliding glass walls that can be heated when the air is chilly. Iricanin hopes the addition will keep the rooftop in use during the winter months. The new structure can seat up to 60 diners with social distancing. Ambar, meanwhile, is poised to open a winter garden in its rear parking lot with a similar heated structure that can accommodate 60 to 70 guests, pending final approval from the county. ” [Arlington Magazine]

Leaf Collection Update — The second pass for Arlington County’s vacuum leaf collection is set to begin Saturday and run through Dec. 19. [Arlington County]

New YouTube Channel for 55+ Programs — “The Office of 55+ Programs at the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation has launched a YouTube channel offering local presentations on everything from fitness to cooking to technology. In addition, members of the 55+ Programs staff host a bimonthly talk show on the channel.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Oldest House — “The Ball-Sellers House on Third Street South in Arlington is the oldest building in Arlington County, Va. It was built in the 1750s by farmer John Ball. Later, three generations of the Carlin family owned the house, helping save it from destruction. Today, it is owned by the Arlington Historical Society.” [Washington Post]

Library Offering Book Bundles for Kids — “The Arlington library system is offering ‘book bundles’ for young readers, part of the library system’s outreach effort as its branches remain shuttered. Bundles of 10 picture books or 10- early-reader books are available for pickup at Central Library during the hours of holds-pickup, with a limit of one per library card.” [InsideNova]

Grant to Fund Grocery Gift Cards — “A half-million-dollar grant to… Virginia Hospital Center will help struggling families with $1,200 in grocery store gift cards over the next six months. Health clinics and pediatric units on the front lines of the pandemic are finding a side-effect of the economic crisis: food insecurity and hungry children.” [WJLA]

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Morning Notes

Coronavirus Outbreak at Marymount — A COVID-19 outbreak has been reported at Marymount University in Arlington. “Initially, cases were identified over Columbus Day weekend and we’ve seen a decline in the total number of cases since October 21,” university spokesman Nicholas Munson told Patch. “To date over the more than two-week period, 31 students have tested positive.” [Patch]

New Charges Against Arlington Resident — “Prosecutors in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on Tuesday unveiled 15 felony charges against a pair of right-wing operatives over a recent robocall aimed at discouraging minority voters from casting their ballots by mail, similar to an indictment filed earlier this month by authorities in Michigan… The Ohio robocall claimed to be the work of the 1599 Project, an outfit that Burkman and Wohl run out of Burkman’s home in Arlington, Virginia.” [StateScoop]

Missing Middle Housing Event Tonight — “The Missing Middle Housing Study will explore how new housing types could help address Arlington’s shortfall in housing supply and gaps in housing choices. All members of the community are invited to virtually attend the study’s kick off” from 7-9 p.m. tonight. [Arlington County]

Home Sale Prices Still Going Up — “The housing market in Arlington County, Virginia, is not cooling off, with sales and prices showing among the biggest gains in the nation in September. The median price of what sold in Arlington County last month was $710,000. That’s the highest county-level median price in Northern Virginia, and up 21% from last September.” [WTOP]

Library Pumpkin Decorating Winners — “We are thrilled to have received 42 pumpkin submissions for our first virtual Pumpkin Decorating Contest! It was hard to choose the winners, as we adored so many. Thank you for submitting, attending the virtual decorating programs and carving out fun with the folks at the library!” [Arlington Public Library]

Local Lawyer Pens New Novel — “By day, Jim Irving is a sixty-something, buttoned-up attorney, a partner in a prestigious Northern Virginia law firm. By night, he is a writer tapping into his past experiences as a private eye and criminal lawyer. In his debut novel, Friends Like These: A Joth Proctor Fixer Mystery, the first in a planned trilogy, Irving draws heavily on his Arlington environs in crafting the adventures of his protagonist.” [Washington Independent Review of Books]

Rosslyn Outdoor Coworking Space Update — “Arlingtonians have about a month left to enjoy outdoor office space provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID). The space, dubbed O2, was created after the pandemic pushed employees out of their cubicles and into their home offices… Reservations are free of charge and can be made on the O2 website. Masks are required for entry and tables are six feet apart.” [WDVM]

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Morning Notes

Labor Day Closures — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 for Labor Day.” Trash will be collected but parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]

Library Buildings Remain Closed — “Even as neighboring Fairfax County is approaching the two-month mark for its reopened library system, Arlington officials appear in no rush to bring their library system more than marginally back to life. That means that while Arlington patrons will continue to have the chance to check out books online and pick them up at a central repository, they remain barred from visiting branches or wandering the stacks.” [InsideNova]

Bluemont BLM Protest Continues — “Father, in his red scooter, and son first rolled down the bike path to this corner in Arlington, Va., just after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. They’ve been back most weekdays since, more than 60 times so far, as demonstrators in Louisville and Atlanta marched for justice for Black Americans killed at the hands of police and protests surged following the police shooting of Jacob Blake last month in Kenosha, Wis.” [Washington Post]

Deep Dive Into New Bridge — “The preferred alternative would add a new two-track rail bridge north of the Long Bridge while retaining the existing bridge without modifications. The plan would cost approximately $1.9 billion. The existing span would retain its CSX ownership, and the new span would be Virginia’s.” [Greater Greater Washington]

MU Extends President’s Contract — “Marymount University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend the contract of President Irma Becerra by an additional five years to 2026. This action comes one year earlier than expected, as Board members felt strongly that due to Dr. Becerra’s significant accomplishments during her tenure, it was important to ensure her continued association with Marymount on a more accelerated timeline.” [Press Release]

Trump Boat Parade Planned — “A boat parade is planned in support of President Trump on Sunday on the Potomac River. According to a Facebook post from an entity known as “Liberty Rally,” boaters will gather just before 1 PM in the Wilson Bridge no-wake zone and then proceed up the Potomac.” [Washingtonian]

Kanye Booted from Ballot — “A Richmond Circuit Court Judge has ruled that rapper Kanye West will be removed from the ballot as a presidential candidate in Virginia. The decision came after an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case and Attorney General Mark Herring accused the West camp of acting fraudulently to get on the ballot.” [NBC 12]

Va. Booze Biz is Booming — “The Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority announced Wednesday retail sales of $1.2 billion in fiscal 2020 — a nearly $120 million increase from the previous year and the second year in a row the liquor monopoly surpassed $1 billion in sales.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

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Morning Notes

Evictions Halted in Virginia — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced a temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings in Virginia. The moratorium, which will begin on Monday, August 10 and remain in effect through Monday, September 7, halts all eviction proceedings related to failure to pay rent.” [Commonwealth of Virginia]

Amazon Rents More Space in Crystal City — “Amazon.com Inc. is adding more Arlington office space to its portfolio even during a pandemic that has forced most of the company’s corporate employees to work remotely… The [newly-leased] 18,700-square-foot space is part of the 272,000-square-foot 2100 Crystal Drive that Amazon agreed in December to eventually lease in full.” [Washington Business Journal]

Erroneous Library Card Renewal Email — Per Arlington Public Library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist: “About 4,000 patrons were mistakenly notified to renew their library card in person. This is not required. We are working on communicating with any affected patrons to clarify and will do so today [Friday].”

Investigation Reveals ‘Historic’ Shed Built in 1974 — “A homeowner living in the Maywood Historic District of Arlington will be able to tear down a no-longer-considered-historic shed. The 10-foot-by-12-foot wooden structure at the back of a home in the 3600 block of 21st Avenue North long had been considered a ‘contributing’ part of the local historic district, a designation that likely would have prevented its demolition as sought by the current owners. But as it turns out, the shed doesn’t come from Maywood’s historic period, defined as 1906 to 1941.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Former ‘Lost Cause’ Textbooks  — “A series of textbooks written for the fourth, seventh and 11th grades taught a generation of Virginians our state’s history. Chapter 29 of the seventh-grade edition, titled ‘How the Negroes Lived Under Slavery,’ included these sentences: ‘A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes.’ The masters ‘knew the best way to control their slaves was to win their confidence and affection.'” [Washington Post, Washington Post]

War Memorial Interpretive Project Honored — “Arlington’s Historic Preservation Program staff and Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) will be honored with a Commission Excellence Award in the category of Best Practices: Public Outreach/Advocacy from the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC) during its virtual conference on Aug. 7. The award recognizes the work of County staff and the HALRB on the Clarendon War Memorial Interpretive Project.” [Arlington County]

Former YHS Star Goes to Cleveland — “The Cleveland Browns have claimed CB M.J. Stewart off waivers on Saturday. Released by Tampa Bay, Stewart was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2018 draft (53rd overall).” [Browns Nation]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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With everything else that’s going on, Arlingtonians won’t have to worry about racking up late fees at the Arlington Public Library.

“On July 1, Arlington Public Library eliminated overdue library fines to make the library‘s collections more accessible to all Arlingtonians,” Arlington County said in a news release. “The goal is to increase access and minimize barriers for marginalized populations to use the library, particularly for youth and low-income patrons, which data shows are disproportionately impacted by overdue fines and stop using the library as a result.”

The move by the Arlington Public Library follows a similar policy implemented in D.C., and part of a growing nationwide trend. In January 2019, the American Library Association passed a resolution condemning the use of late fees as creating an unnecessary economic barrier.

“This permanent change will make the library more accessible to all,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “It has been shown that library fines mostly fall on young people whose families cannot afford library fines. And that results in making the library less accessible to families with lower incomes, which is the exact opposite result that we want. I’m delighted that we are adopting this new policy.”

The news release noted that the elimination of fines will have an impact on the library budget, but penalties for losing library materials will remain.

The elimination of fines will reduce the Library fine budget by an expected $155,000 in anticipated revenue to $10,000 in FY 2021. The $10,000 remains in the budget due to the continuation of replacement fees for lost items.

Under this new policy, any patron with a balance over $15 cannot borrow, renew, place holds on materials, or log in to premium sites, such as Consumer Reports. This would only impact patrons who are charged for losing or failing to return items to the library, since overdue fines are eliminated.

Patrons still need to pay their existing fines accrued prior to July 1, 2020.

“Every member of our community has a right to library services and library fines and fees are known barriers to use,” said Diane Kresh, Director of Arlington Public Library. “We are pleased that we can eliminate these long-standing barriers and continue our mission to reach everyone regardless of their socioeconomic background.”

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Morning Notes

Utility Pole Catches Fire in Penrose — “100 blk S Wise St, Power pole fire. Area structures may experience power disruptions as the power company addresses the issue. Initial fire crews had to wait for ⁦@DominionEnergy⁩ to arrive to take down power, after which they could extinguish the fire.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]

Robbery from Clarendon 7-Eleven — ” At approximately 4:46 a.m. on June 7, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business, approached the counter and stole a jar containing an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect attempted to flee, however, the victim ran after him and the suspect produced a knife and hammer and struck the victim. During the altercation, the jar fell and shattered. The suspect fled in a green Nissan pick-up truck.” [Arlington County]

Library Material for Confronting Racism — “We have compiled a list of books, movies, podcasts, articles, and organizations where you can learn more about structural racism in the United States, how to engage with and act against anti-black racism, and what you can do to eradicate systematic racism and fight for justice in your community.” [Arlington Public Library]

Local Mail Carrier Dies from Coronavirus — ” An Arlington community is mourning the loss of its beloved mailman who died over the weekend from COVID-19 complications. Jesus Collazos suffered a stroke about a month ago that was caused by the coronavirus. Collazos was 67-years-old and and was most looking forward to being a grandfather to his three grandchildren.” [WDVM]

Evictions in Va. Temporarily Halted — “The state’s Supreme Court issued the ban Monday following a request from Gov. Ralph Northam. It extends previous orders that had put a hold on evictions, but expired last month. Under the new rule, even renters who have been threatened with eviction but have not been served a formal notice cannot be legally removed from their homes until June 28 at the earliest.” [DCist]

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