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Jessika Conway stacks reserved books at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library branch on Caroline Street.
Computers draw visitors, like Terell Anderson, 13, to the library, which had 2 million visits last year.
Members of the Hall family (from left) Kim, 11, Robert, 7, and Russell, 9, read at the library with their mother, Starla. The CRRL system had 7.3 million circulation last year.
In addition to the headquarters in Fredericksburg, CRRL has branches in Stafford, Spotsylvania and Westmoreland.
Charles Mock walks about a mile to the Rappahannock Regional Library's headquarters in Fredericksburg at least twice a week.
He said he used to buy books, but stopped after his house became crowded with paperbacks and hardcovers. So he donated about 200 books to the library and has been coming ever since.
"Now my house is less cluttered, and I get to read what I want to read," Mock said.
The Central Rappahannock Regional Library, which has branches in Stafford, Spotsylvania and Westmoreland counties, is the best library in Virginia that serves 250,000 to 500,000 people, according to Hennen's American Public Library Rankings.
The CRRL ranked fourth nationwide in the same category. In 2001, the library ranked eighth nationally.
The recently released ratings focus on a library's circulation, checkouts, visits, staffing levels, funding and reference desk questions. The CRRL received 814 out of 1,000 possible points.
"The recognition is given for the cost-effective delivery of library services," said Director Donna Cote.
The library conducts an internal customer-satisfaction survey twice a year, but that doesn't impact its rating.
"I think we have a bright staff," Cote said. " They work hard and they're committed. I think our jurisdictions have been very generous in supporting us. I think it all works together in the end."
Mock says his wife, Juli, often goes to the help desk to find a series of books written by the same author.
"We're in the customer-service business," said Caroline Parr, the library's youth services coordinator. "So having our staff connect with people is really important to us."
Mock said he checks out up to seven books monthly, including audio books for traveling. Often, he said, the main branch won't have a selection but another will.
The library sends him an e-mail after his book is delivered to the Fredericksburg location, he said.
"I realized almost every book I buy [is available at] the library eventually," Mock said.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
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