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Friday, September 28, 2007

A Grand Opening!

If you are in the neighborhood, stop by the new Oakton Library between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 29 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a classical music concert, storytelling, tours and more to celebrate the opening of the Fairfax County Public Library’s 22nd branch. The branch is located at 10304 Lynnhaven Place near its intersection with Hunter Mill Road.

The new building is the first library branch in the Providence District and a “green building,” registered for certification according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The branch has all the amenities of a 21st-century library with self-check-out and wireless access, as well as 70,000 items, a meeting room, conference room, quiet study area, group study area and a professional staff ready to help you locate the information you need.

So, even if you can’t make it for Saturday’s festivities, make a point of stopping in soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Few Thoughts

When we began our weekly All Fairfax Reads musings on our first president, library staff wondered if there would be enough material to sustain a column. Reading His Excellency: George Washington, the 2007 All Fairfax Reads
selection by Joseph J. Ellis, convinced us otherwise.

Over the weeks, we’ve discussed the myths surrounding the man, Washington’s military expertise; his attitude toward slavery; his relationship with the Indians; his hands-off approach to the Constitutional Convention; his refusal to be named “king”; and his close relationships with other founding fathers such as Alexander Hamilton and companions, such as Billy Lee, a slave he freed at his death. And more.

In Ellis’ introduction to the biography, the author writes:

“It seemed to me that Benjamin Franklin was wiser than Washington; Alexander Hamilton was more brilliant; John Adams was better read; Thomas Jefferson was more intellectually sophisticated; James Madison was more intellectually astute. Yet each and all of these prominent figures acknowledged that Washington was their unquestioned superior.”

You can hear Ellis explain why at the final All Fairfax Reads event on Thursday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall at the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University. We hope to see you there.

And, if you have any suggestions for the 2008 All Fairfax Reads selection, let us know.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fall for the Book Festival

All you bibliophiles out there, don’t miss the annual Fall for the Book Festival held on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University from Sunday, September 23 – Friday, September 28. The festival is sponsored by GMU in collaboration with the Fairfax County Public Library and other organizations. Special events not to miss include:

Monday, September 24, 8 p.m. Harris Theater. National-Book Award-winner Alice McDermott, author of Charming Billy and After This discusses the art of fiction.

Tuesday, September 25, 8 p.m. Dewberry Hall, Johnson Center. Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays With Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day accepts the Fairfax Prize for Literary Achievement in the Literary Arts sponsored by the Fairfax Library Foundation.

Wednesday, September 26, 8 p.m. Concert Hall, Center for the Arts.
Elizabeth Berg, author of the recent novel, Dream When You’re Feeling Blue, is presented by the Friends of the Reston Regional Library and the Friends of the Fairfax City Regional Library.

Thursday, September 27, 7:30 p.m. Concert Hall, Center for the Arts.
Joseph J. Ellis, author of His Excellency: George Washington, the 2007 All Fairfax Reads selection discusses the biography.

Friday, September 28, 8 p.m. Harris Theater. Jonathan Lethem, award-winning author of Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and You Don’t Love Me Yet accepts the Mason Award celebrating an author whose body of work has made extraordinary contributions to bringing literature to a wide reading public.

There’s much, much more, including events morning, noon and night for all ages and everything is free! For details, see the Fall for the Book schedule of events.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Washington’s Descendants

George Washington had no children, so although there is a National Society of Washington Family Descendants, it takes some digging to prove a relationship with our first president. Determining who these descendants are is not a simple task. According to a Washington Times article ("Stubborn Washington Spurned Kingdom,"), in 2000, there were 8,000 Washington descendants scattered across the country, but only 200 with the Washington name.

James C. Roberts, who authored the article, wondered what might have happened if Washington had accepted the title of “king” as some of his supporters urged him to do. Who would be sitting on the throne 200 years later? To be considered a descendant, one has to be related to Washington’s siblings, but it becomes complex, because he had two older half brothers, three younger full brothers and one sister who survived to adulthood.

You are allowed to join the above-mentioned society of Washington family descendents, if you can prove your lineage to: Colonel John Washington, George Washington’s great-grand-father who immigrated from England; as well as seven other descendants.

Most of us don’t have such lofty origins, but if you are an amateur genealogist, you may want to check out the Fairfax County Public Library’s Virginia Room, which offers a variety of research resources. You can also do genealogical research online with Ancestry Library Edition, available from home, work, library branches or anywhere, as well as HeritageQuest Online, available only at all library branches.

All Fairfax Reads Events:

September 18 (Tonight!) at 7 p.m., Kings Park Library. Patricia Brady discusses her book, Martha Washington: An American Life. Books for sale and signing, courtesy of Borders-Tysons Corner.

September 20 at 7:30 p.m. Reston Regional Library. Actor Brian Hilton portrays George Washington and describes his life from 1732-1760.

September 27 at 7:30 p.m. Joseph Ellis, author of His Excellency: George Washington. Center for the Arts -- Fairfax campus of George Mason University. The author of the 2007 All Fairfax Reads selection will discuss his biography. Books will be available for sale and signing courtesy of Barnes & Noble - GMU. Free; first come first served; no registration required.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Remembering Madeleine L’Engle

When the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux announced the death of 88-year-old Madeleine L’Engle last week, generations of readers fondly recalled her 1962 children’s classic A Wrinkle in Time, which has sold eight million copies and is in its 69th printing.

L’Engle explained once that she took concepts from Einstein’s theory of relativity and Planck’s quantum theory to create the story of Meg Murry and her psychic brother, who use time travel and extra-sensory perception to save their father. The book spawned a series which includes A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.

According to a September 8, 2007 New York Times obituary, L’Engle once said of writing:

“Why does anyone tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with
faith – faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose to say or do matters, matters cosmically.”

If you are interested in sampling L’Engle’s books, browse the library’s catalog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Washington: Genius With Judgment

In a time when there were neither Democrats nor Republicans and in fact, political parties were just beginning to rear their heads, it’s interesting to look at Washington’s leadership style.

According to Joseph J. Ellis, author of His Excellency: George Washington, our first president’s “genius was his judgment.” Ellis believes that Washington was a central figure in two distinct creative moments in U.S. history – winning independence and the invention of the American nation.

The author of the library’s All Fairfax Reads selection continues by saying he believes that Washington’s skills may rest in part because he was a self-educated man. “Though it might seem sacrilegious to suggest, Washington’s powers of judgment derived in part from the fact that his mind was uncluttered with sophisticated intellectual preconceptions.”

He was, in summary, a pragmatist who believed that “men and nations were driven by interests rather than ideals, and that surrendering control to another was invariably harmful, often fatal.”

Ellis believes Washington’s decision to resign as commander-in-chief of the Continental army, as well as his wish to step down after his first term as president ended, also are mirrors into his character.

Ellis suggests: “He knew himself well enough to resist the illusion that he transcended his human nature. Unlike Julius Caesar and Oliver Cromwell before him and Napoleon, Lenin, and Mao after him, he understood that the greater glory resided in posterity’s judgment.”

You can learn more about Washington’s character at a special appearance by Ellis on September 27 at 7:30 p.m. Center for the Arts -- Fairfax campus of George Mason University. The author of the 2007 All Fairfax Reads selection, His Excellency: George Washington, will discuss his biography. Books will be available for sale and signing courtesy of Barnes & Noble - GMU. Free; first come first served; no registration required.

Other All Fairfax Reads events include:

September 18 at 7 p.m., Kings Park Library. Patricia Brady discusses her book, Martha Washington: An American Life. Books for sale and signing, courtesy of Borders-Tysons Corner.

September 20 at 7:30 p.m. Reston Regional Library. Actor Brian Hilton portrays George Washington and describes his life from 1732-1760.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Reader’s Advisor Online Blog

Looking for some good reading? Here’s some news from our favorite library blog:

“Check out The Reader's Advisor Online Blog. Looks like it was launched in June, and already there are lots of interesting stories for readers (Nonfiction Reading . . . Without All That Pesky Nonfiction Reading), writers (Where Has the Mystery Mid-List Gone?), and other book lovers.

Besides the feature articles, there's also a Bestseller Mashup of Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction (the kind of non-fiction that feels more like fiction), and a list of books coming out this week. Diana Tixier Herald, of the well-known readers' advisory tool Genreflecting, is one of the contributors.” (August 16, 2007)

h2o lib blog
Waterloo Public Library
Waterloo, ME

P.S.
Don’t forget to check out Good Reading on the Fairfax County Public Library Web site. There’s some great stuff there, as well.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Colonial Medicine

If antibiotics had existed in colonial Virginia, George Washington might not have succumbed to the infection that ended his life on December 14, 1799.
According to Joseph Ellis in His Excellency: George Washington, the former president rode the rounds of his estate for five hours during a snow, sleet and hail storm two days before his death. He then chose not to change out of his wet clothes because dinner was ready when he returned and he didn’t want to inconvenience his guests. The next day, although hoarse, he again went out in bad weather to mark some trees for cutting.

That night, he woke complaining of shortness of breath and pain in his throat.
His personal physician was called. He diagnosed Washington’s condition as serious and consulted two other physicians.

They bled him four times; blistered him around the neck; and gave him laxatives to try to eradicate the infection – common, but misguided treatments at the time.

Modern medical experts believe Washington may have suffered from an infection of the epiglottis, which is located at the entrance to the larynx .
It is quite uncomfortable, since the epiglottis blocks the windpipe. Breathing and swallowing become difficult.

Finally, Washington asked his doctors to stop their efforts. “I die hard,” he said, “but I am not afraid to go.” His last words were “Tis well.” Washington was 67 years old.

Save This Date:
September 27
at 7:30 p.m. Center for the Arts -- Fairfax campus of George Mason University. Joseph J. Ellis, author of the 2007 All Fairfax Reads selection, His Excellency: George Washington discusses his biography. Books will be available for sale and signing courtesy of Barnes & Noble - GMU. Free; first come first served; no registration required.

Upcoming All Fairfax Reads Event:
September 10
at 7:30 p.m., Sherwood Regional Library. James Rees, executive director of Mount Vernon: George Washington’s Estate & Gardens, discusses his book, George Washington’s Leadership Lessons: What the Father of Our Country Can Teach Us About Effective Leadership and Character.