By Kate Anderson
Prince William Public Libraries is forging headlong into the future with constant growth and modernization. The modern library is not just about hard-copy books anymore (though some really great ones live there). Bright airy buildings with computers to access e-books, journals, movies and music, peaceful workstations, welcoming and knowledgeable staff, community gatherings and programs, and rooms specifically devoted to things like art and ancestry, show how libraries are much more relevant, important and necessary to the community than ever before.
Connecting with Community Programming
“Prince William Public Libraries’ mission is to bring together people, information and ideas to enrich lives and build community in a welcoming, inclusive environment,” says Rachel Johnson, Communication Services Division Chief, PWPL Office of Community Engagement. “There’s no better way to do that than
to open our doors — both physical and virtual. [We] have always been an active, engaged member of the greater Prince William community. Our vision to be the hub connecting people to the transforming power of information has always included traditional library services as well as innovative approaches to provide a true experience when visiting our libraries.”
Before COVID-19, Prince William Public Libraries were bustling places with more than 100 programs taking place every month. Before the pandemic, in-person programs were thriving with every age group: story times, Music and Motion, Teen Advisory Groups, book clubs of all genres and even craft programs. In addition to the outstanding programming, the libraries “are a hub to keep people connected, quite literally,” says Johnson. Each of the 11 libraries has computers available, offers free mobile WiFi, printing, copying and faxing (the last three for a minor fee). A main goal is “to expand our services to provide patrons with more resources and information each time they come into the library,” says Johnson.
Johnson notes that, “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all programs are currently virtual at Prince William Public Libraries. One may think this prevents us from doing quality programming, but quite the contrary! We offer all the same programs, just online, which — for many people who may not have been able to join us for in-person programs in the past — we’re seeing more views and engagement through our virtual programs. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of how we do things at our libraries, but
— fortunately — not whether or not we’re able to.”
The Virtual Expanse of the Digital Library
The Prince William Public Libraries’ Digital Library is available online. Particularly important during COVID-19, this opens a digital world to library patrons from wherever they are. Patrons use the Digital Library to support virtual learning, for entertainment and enjoyment. Your Digital Library provides free access to
thousands of online and digital resources including e-books, audiobooks, newspapers and premium websites.
For those who don’t currently have a library card, Prince William County and City of Manassas residents can access all of the library’s digital services by signing up online for a digital library card. Visit pwcgov.org/library and select the blue “Sign Up for a Library Card Today” banner.
Makerspace, RELIC and MAGIC
In late 2020, Central Library’s Studio 8601 Makerspace opened and took what it means to be a library to another level. The Makerspace has something for all ages, including 3-D Printers; Cricut machines; 3-D laser cutters; sewing, embroidery machines, and even a loom; virtual reality headsets; AV recording equipment; scanners and Media Conversion Technology; various art supplies, textiles, and jewelry crafting; tech and coding toys. It truly is a remarkable space where your imagination can run wild. For hours of operation and
more information on Makerspace, call 703-792-8361.
After more than 25 years at Bull Run Library, the RELIC genealogy and local history department has relocated to Central Library into a new and larger space. There are books, microfilm archival material
and databases for patrons interested in family history, or the history of their local property. RELIC also offers live and prerecorded programs every month. For more information, email email@example.com or call 703-792-8380.
MAGIC, Prince William Public Libraries’ Management and Government Information Center, is another resource available to patrons. As Johnson explains, “MAGIC is a special collection and information service located at Chinn Park Library. MAGIC’s collection focuses on local and state government information and
publications. MAGIC has specialized staff and resources to assist members of the community, including local government agencies and area businesses and nonprofits, to start or grow a business, retrieve industry information, seek grant funding, and access laws and regulations.” If you would like assistance with government, business or legal information, please contact MAGIC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-792-4880.
Exciting Changes in 2021
One of the most exciting changes in 2021 is the newest library branch, the Manassas City Library at Wellington Station Shopping Center. Manassas City Library will be the 12th branch in the library
system and will be a coordinated effort with the City of Manassas. This new library will continue the tradition of providing resources and programming for all ages. Featuring an open floorplan, there
will be inviting spaces to enjoy an expansive collection of books, resources, meeting rooms, comfortable seating, public computers and free Wi-Fi access.
In fall 2020, a new initiative was announced: Career Online High School. Prince William Public Libraries is offering qualified community members the opportunity to earn an accredited high school diploma and credentialed career certificate through Career Online High School, a program brought to public libraries by Gale, a Cengage company. Part of the world’s first accredited, private online school districts, Career Online High School is specifically designed to re-engage adults into the education system and prepare them for entry into post-secondary career education or the workforce. In Prince William County, it is estimated that 40,000 adults — more than 10% of the County’s population — do not have a high school diploma. Learn more at pwcgov.org/cohs.
Visit and Learn More
Prince William Public Libraries is constantly evolving and innovating to provide you with new services and resources. During the COVID-19 pandemic, hours of operation, services and branch openings are frequently changing. For the latest information, please visit pwcgov.org/library.
Kate Anderson is a contributing writer for Prince William Living. She can be reached at email@example.com.