The mission of the Mary Riley Styles Public Library is to provide and promote open access to reading, educational, recreational, cultural, intellectual and informational resources that enrich and enlighten all segments of our community.
The Library Board of Trustees and staff envision a future in which all of the community’s interests are well represented in the library’s collections, all Falls Church residents can make use of the library’s resources to enrich their own lives, and Falls Church residents turn to the Mary Riley Styles Public Library when the need for information is greater than the resources immediately at hand.
The library has started a new strategic planning process and, with the help of a consultant, will be working with staff, the Library Board, City Council, and the greater Falls Church community to develop an updated vision and mission statement, primary service goals, and a targeted 3-5 year work plan.
Commitment to Equity
Diversity, equity, and inclusivity will continue to be a priority and focus for the Board, library staff, and strategic planning.
History of the Library
The library started in 1899 as a collection of 650 books maintained by the Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS) in a structure behind the home of George W. Hawxhurst at the northeast corner of North Washington and East Columbia Streets. 14 years later (in 1913), the collection was transferred from VPIS to the Falls Church Civic League (know later as the Falls Church Women's Club) and continued to operate out of different locations throughout Falls Church until the late 1950s.
The Town of Falls Church first officially began supporting the library in 1928 and assumed full responsibility for the library in 1940. After becoming an independent City in 1948, the City of Falls Church established a formal library board in 1954 and ultimately funded construction of a new library building on land donated by the children of Mary Riley Styles, the longtime chairwoman of the Woman’s Club who passed away in 1946.
The new building opened in 1958 and has since been renovated and expanded three times: 1969, 1993, and most recently 2021. Previously known as the Falls Church Public Library, it was re-named the Mary Riley Styles Public Library in 1977.
Today, the library continues to serve City of Falls Church’s roughly 15,000 residents, as well as library users throughout the Metro DC area.
- 1899-1909: The Falls Church Village Improvement Society helps amass about 650 books for circulation among members.
- 1913: The Civic League, an organization of women, retrieves the collection and revives book lending.
- 1916: The Civic League becomes the Woman's Club of Falls Church and continues to operate a library from various locations.
- 1919: Library moves into small quarters in the Congregational Church building (222 N. Washington St.) after congregation disbands.
- 1928: Ordinance establishing the Falls Church Public Library is passed and $300 appropriated for its use.
- 1948: Town of Falls Church separates from Fairfax County to become an independent City.
- 1949: Library Board is established, the collection moves to larger quarters at 151 East Broad St., and services of a certified librarian are secured.
- 1950: Library moves to larger rented quarters at 934 West Broad Street.
- 1954-1955: City reaffirms establishment of the Falls Church Public Library overseen by a 7-member Board of Trustees. Collection moves to larger rented quarters at 201 East Broad Street.
- 1956: Bond issue passes to build a library facility on land donated by the Styles family.
- 1958: New library at 120 N. Virginia Ave opens.
- 1968-1969: First renovation and expansion of building completed.
- 1977: Library renamed in honor longtime library advocate Mary Riley Styles.
- 1980: Lower level of building opens to the public.
- 1990: Library automates catalog and circulation system.
- 1992-1993: Building undergoes 2nd renovation and expansion. Library moves to temporary quarters at 134 West Broad Street during construction.
- 2004: MRSPL Foundation established.
- 2011: Downloadable ebooks added to collection.
- 2013: Downloadable audiobooks and digital magazines added to collection.
- 2016: $8.7M bond referendum approved by City residents to complete third renovation and expansion of library building.
- 2020: Construction begins on new 6,600 sq foot expansion and renovation. Library opens temporary facility at 601 S. Oak Street in March only to close to the public one week later due to COVID-19. Curbside pickup and virtual programming started in response.
- 2021: Ribbon cutting ceremony occurs on September 10 for official opening of renovated and expanding building.
Photo Credit: David Keith Photography
Mary Riley Styles Public Library was one of only 6 public libraries in Virginia – and one of only 258 public libraries nationally – to receive a star ranking in the 2022 Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. Learn more...