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Editor: As the Arlington County Board considers delaying Glencarlyn Library’s reopening until July 2022, the Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association (GCA) contend the reasons to reopen the library now are more compelling than ever, and a comprehensive view of Glencarlyn Library services is needed to understand and evaluate this library’s community contribution.
The county manager’s statistics show that, before the pandemic; program attendance at Glencarlyn Library had increased from 3,788 in fiscal 2019 to 5,644 in fiscal 2020, an astounding 49-percent growth due in large part to the children’s-services librarian.
With Glencarlyn Library use growing, its influence expanding, its necessity is even more obvious.
All of our children have suffered during this time of remote learning. As they return to the classroom, and over the summer, they will need additional resources to catch up – some students more than others.
Carlin Springs Elementary School has 68-percent English-learners, the highest in the county. And 81 percent of the student body receives free and reduced-price lunches, more than at nine schools in North Arlington combined. Kenmore Middle School is in a similar circumstance.
We cannot ignore these numbers. There is no doubt about the important role Glencarlyn Library plays for Carlin Springs Elementary, Campbell Elementary and Kenmore Middle School, the three schools within short walking distance.
The library is a beneficial and necessary after-school destination, heavily utilized by students from these schools. Many of these students do not have access to these resources at home, and reside in neighborhoods other than Glencarlyn.
The library’s proximity to these schools promotes collaboration with the school libraries and programs.
All three schools have provided GCA with statements explaining their utilization of the library and expressing strong support for maintaining this important resource in its current location.
Two years ago, the county manager incorrectly described Glencarlyn Library as “the most geographically isolated library branch in the system, primarily servicing a relatively small number of nearby residents while other more populated areas of Arlington are underserved.” We believe that rather than being isolated, Glencarlyn Library is a resource used well beyond the immediate Glencarlyn neighborhood. The library is pivotal to communities that need it.
The GCA strongly objects to delaying the availability of services that are highly valued, well-utilized and desperately needed. We urge the County Board to make this critical community resource available as soon as possible to the Arlington residents who need it most, and fund the full reopening of Glencarlyn Library at the same time other libraries are reopened.
Julie Lee, Arlington
Lee is president of the Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association.