John Marshall Library
by Carl Sell

It did not take long for residents of the new subdivision to realize that a more convenient library was needed to serve both Rose Hill and the general Franconia area. The closest library facility was on Queen Street in Alexandria. A great library, to be sure, but a long way to travel to check out a book or do some research!

Fairfax County opened a storefront library in the Rose Hill Shopping Center on April 21, 1963. The library consisted of 2,400 square feet and had room for 20,000 books. However, there were only 6,00 books available on opening day and for a while patrons were limited to check out two books per adult and one per child. By contrast, today’s library consists of almost 100,000 volumes and numerous periodicals. Not to mention the wide-ranging access via the Internet.

It did not take long for the library to outgrow its space in the shopping center.

As part of the deal for allowing the electric power lines to run through the community, the county obtained the right to construct the current library facility on the right-of-way. Funds were quickly appropriated for construction and the library opened on February 18, 1975. The cost of construction was $585,640.00.

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Today, the John Marshall Branch (named for the former Chief Justice of The Supreme Court) is a focal point for Rose Hill and all its neighbors. The last count of patrons numbered more than 163,000 for Fiscal Year 2001. The number of items checked out for reading and/or research was 327,391. And, that does not count the in-house research and the volumes accessed via the Internet.

In addition the library and its staff offer numerous programs and the facility is the host for various community meetings and forums. The Rose Hill Civic Association meets in the spacious community room the fourth Tuesday of each month except July, August and September.

The community room is named the Gladys B. Keating Meeting Room in honor of the long-time Franconia resident who served in the Virginia General Assembly from 1977 to 1999. Previously, she was a member of the Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees representing Lee District from 1972 until 1978.

RHCA is proud to be a member of Friends of the John Marshall Library, a volunteer group that supports the facility with both contributions and staff assistance. Stop by the library and pick up a brochure explaining how you can become a member and/or a volunteer.

If you have any information you would like to add to this segment, e-mail Carl Sell at clsell@hotmail.com. Any unusual or funny incidents also will qualify.

In subsequent vignettes, we will at a look at the history of our parks and shopping center.

Greendale Golf Course

Please let me know if you have any information to contribute to the history of Rose Hill. Carl Sell

Photo courtesy Jim Sapp

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