The Fairwood area was settled in the late 1880s with coal mining, farming and ranching as the major activities. Along the Maple Valley Highway, the Aqua Barn and the Elliot Farm buildings stood as reminders of the early days when the HOA was started. In those times, transportation was limited, especially in the winter. There were several lakeside resorts used by Seattle area residents for fishing and day trips.

The area as it is recognized today was developed in the early 1950s. Cascade Vista was developed in 1957, and the Cascade Shopping Center in 1959. Fairwood Greens followed in 1967. Growth in population and housing continues, with many new developments along SE 140th and along Petrovitsky Road.

The Fairwood Library service area is an unincorporated bedroom community with a variety of single-family housing developments, and some multi-family dwellings interspersed with rural and undeveloped areas. The King County Plan indicates that the area is to remain a suburban residential community.

The population within the area increased by 30% from 1980 to 1990, with most growth in the North Meridian neighborhood. Since 1990, the population has increased by 7%, with the North Meridian and Benson neighborhoods experiencing the most growth.

The median income for the residents of the area is higher than that of King County, while the median home value is less than that of the County. A majority of homes are owner-occupied. The household size is greater than the County average, due to the fact that 29% of the population is under the age of 18.

The Fairwood Library area is served by three school districts: Kent, Renton, and Tahoma. As growth continues, two elementary, one junior high, and one high school have been built since 1996.

The area includes two distinct business areas serving the local population. The area surrounding the library has the most developed businesses (retail, personal and professional services), generally located in major shopping centers anchored by chain grocery stores.

More than half of the employed persons in the study area commute to south King County areas for employment.

Fairwood residents have an independent spirit and, while eschewing a city government, are aware of and concerned about local, state and national issues. The primary interests of residents are centered around home life, recreation, and quality of life issues such as crime and education.

Since its opening day, Fairwood Library has been one of the busiest branches in the King County Library System. It serves as a community center, providing meeting rooms, programs and general information.