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April 23, 2018 · OPINION

Sears closing creates potential library space

Gloucester County in Tidewater and nearby Culpeper County have renovated shopping center spaces to house their public libraries.
By Dink Godfrey

With the Fauquier Now announcement that Sears will close its Warrenton store, Fauquier County and the Town of Warrenton should jump on the opportunity that may exist here to place the new Fauquier County Library at this site. The building is free-standing and separately owned from the rest of the shopping center. There is ample existing parking with more than easy access to the facility.

Fauquier County has long needed a new library space, and this could be the site that works best. In addition, the county has needed more inviting meeting space for the board of supervisors and planning commission meetings. This building could accommodate numerous needs.

I would like to respectfully ask the board of supervisors to make a serious study and inquiry into the acquisition and conversion of this space for the New Fauquier County Public Library. This site has too many advantages for the county to pass it by without serious consideration. I would also like to ask the Town of Warrenton to work with the county to accomplish this conversion as well. This site is too precious to let slip past Fauquier County and the Town of Warrenton.

This is my formal request to the county and town governments. I hope that many more citizens may see this benefit as well and contact their local government representatives to pursue this plan of action.
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Jim Griffin · May 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm
RGJLA: Agreed, but will note I am in favor of having a library and do not necessarily support a new one because that is a conclusion that requires weighing many competing priorities. If using the Sears is an acceptable middle ground, I could support that.

What I could not support is deciding to have no library or similar service at all. I do not think them obsolete, although I do think they need to innovate to keep up with the times, including digital access to materials.
RGLJA · May 6, 2018 at 5:25 pm
Jim, you're preaching to the choir about the value of reading and education, but you are not making the case for a new library at all. I used to visit the Fauquier library about twice a week 20 years ago. Our family have always been voracious readers. But none of us has visited a library even once in the last 10 years. In the old days, when the library was a good source of books to read, I saw few underpriveledged children in the library anyway. All children do have plenty of books in their schools, but most don't seem to spend their weekends trying to get more of them. In addition, it is simply counterproductive to build a fixed facility in the center of the county to house paper books that will cost residents more time and money for access. This is the same reason none of the rest of us go to the library either. It isn't just the waste of money to build the facility. It's a waste of time and money and traffic hassle just to get a book. It's too expensive. The oversaturation of all media and internet sources today makes it ridiculously easier to get anything we want without having to travel from our homes. Eleanor Roosevelt's notions about reading/learning are still relevant .. but they do NOT justify building multi-million dollar facilities which require physical travel for access to information.
Jim Griffin · May 1, 2018 at 6:12 pm
Libraries equalize access to media, enabling those with varying incomes to read books, view art, hear music, watch movies and more. Leaving those who thirst for knowledge or culture to pay Amazon obviates the basic purpose of library programs.

Recent numbers show ebook sales flat to down, print sales up, with Amazon opening retail stores that sell real books, which almost 150 million Americans report shopping for last year. Only 26% of America has even tried an eBook.

In the younger age groups, ebooks trail more substantially. Consider this: Many read a bible, and a diverse group of them. Most want a bible to hold in their hand.

These results are not unique. Vinyl record sales are up. Cassette production and sales, too.

Fundamentally, though, it bears repeating what librarians and Eleanor Roosevelt have long made clear: It's about equalizing access.

For kids, type is at first unfriendly, big colorful books an introduction to a life of reading. We should make books available in a central place for them -- and no surprise we do, along with almost every community worldwide.

Speaking of libraries, a reminder to all of a great community resource on our doorstep. The Library of Congress has in Culpeper an extraordinary theater that regularly displays first-rate movies (no charge):

Culture draws companies, too. Amazon seeks an HQ city with great libraries and museums, reasoning they are evidence of the workforce they seek. Not looking for an Amazon, but they've got the right idea.
nonewtaxes · April 28, 2018 at 8:02 am
Still obsolete. You want a book go to Amazon. Amazon has 5,000,000,000,000,000,000 books available. You can search for them in multiple ways. You can carry 10,000 books with you on your tablet, phone, laptop. It doesn't cost the county a cent. You can get to Amazon in any kind of weather.

If you think libraries are not obsolete you must still hold up the check out line writing a check.
HelenM · April 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm
What a smart idea!
MissB · April 24, 2018 at 9:22 am
Libraries are NOT obsolete
nonewtaxes · April 24, 2018 at 6:43 am
Libraries still obsolete.
Rover 530 · April 23, 2018 at 7:55 pm
Agree with this proposal. It's a great opportunity. Millions would not have to be spent by the county to construct a new building. Repurposing the store for library use would cost so much less. Even if only a portion of the Sears building is used for the new library it would be a great plus for the community. One of the main reasons for building a new library has been the lack of adequate parking. Plenty of parking at the Sears site. If the Board of Supervisors does not actively and seriously explore this possibility, it will be negligent.
BJ · April 23, 2018 at 1:19 pm
The building is already wired for internet access, has bathrooms, lots of space, lots of parking. Would definitely generate more business for the surrounding businesses such as Safeway, etc. Win, win situation! Walking distance for residents along Oak Springs and near C.M. Bradley. We do more shopping in that area then Main Street.
MissB · April 23, 2018 at 10:11 am
The shopping center there is also in the route for the Circuit Rider bus, which would make a library at that location very accessible for more residents.
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