Va. library might be getting a name change after community outcry over current ‘very racist president’ name

Woodrow Wilson Library in the Culmore neighborhood of Bailey’s Crossroads. It may be getting a new name soon. (Courtesy Fairfax County Government)

The Woodrow Wilson Library in Falls Church, Virginia, may be getting a new name soon.

After community feedback suggesting that the name doesn’t represent the area’s values, the Fairfax County Public Library Board of Trustees is considering the change.

In March, a committee was established to investigate the name change, according to Kevin Osborne, deputy library director for the Fairfax County Public Library.

FFX Now first reported the possible name change.

Before a name change can move forward, though, Osborne said the board still has to approve an update to its policy for naming libraries, spaces and fixtures. A previous update in November said all new or renamed branches “shall be named for the geographical area in which they are located,” according to board documents.

“Woodrow Wilson Library does not convey a location, which could cause confusion among customers who don’t already know that is in Culmore, Bailey’s Crossroads,” Osborne said.

Community members have expressed interest in a name change for different reasons, Osborne said.

As part of documents submitted for the library board’s March meeting, Susan LaRue wrote that Wilson “was a very racist president. He was responsible for overturning many of the new laws giving people of color equal rights under the law.”

Nancy Simpson, meanwhile, wrote that the local library should not “be named for ex-President Woodrow Wilson, a man who re-segregated the federal workforce and supported the (Ku Klux Klan), in addition to throwing (activist) Alice Paul and friends in jail for demanding voting rights for women.”

Anthony Tambasco wrote that Wilson’s name “should be removed from a local library in a largely immigrant neighborhood.”

At a minimum, any name change would take months, Osborne said. The county would have to get a bid for a new sign, but beyond that, “it would not be prohibitively expensive in any way to rename,” he said.

It could be renamed “Culmore Community Library,” but a report on the library’s history also looked into potential names such as Bailey’s Crossroads Library, Barcroft Library or Anne Wilkins Library, among others.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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