Honoring the Past, Building Our Future: One Hundred
Years of the Virginia Library Association
|What the VLA Does
The Virginia Library
Association provides continuing education opportunities for its
members through meetings, workshops, and annual conferences held
throughout the state. The annual conferences have increased in
length and substance as VLA members face new demands.
When the VLA met in Richmond in 1945, the conferees met at
Second Baptist Church because the Jefferson Hotel, according to
the segregation laws, refused to allow the integrated
organization to use its meeting rooms. As a result, the VLA
resolved that future conferences would be held only in hotels
that allowed interracial groups to meet in the same facilities.
Since its founding, the Virginia Library Association has
sought to build libraries and offer services to everyone in the
state. In partnership with the state library (now the Library of
Virginia), the VLA supported attempts to build public libraries
and, in 1934, was represented on the State Library Planning
Committee. In its A Library Plan for the State of Virginia,
the State Library Planning Committee stated that
The state of Virginia and its constituent localities
should maintain reasonably adequate public libraries
available for all of its population, rural and urban, white
and colored. To do less is to shirk an essential
responsibility for the educational improvement of its
citizenship, both young and old.
The number of the commonwealth’s libraries has grown from 125
to more than 1,750, including 91 public library systems, 79
academic libraries, and more than 1,600 public schools with
library media centers.
The VLA has developed three mechanisms to better serve its
- Standing committees, such as legislative,
publications, and scholarship, perform the functional work
of the organization and ensure that the mission, vision and
values of the organization are carried out.
- Forums recognize and serve specific interests and
encourage collaboration and communication in functional
areas of library services.
- Geographic regions encourage year-round
partnerships and foster relationship-building among
librarians, library staff, and their communities that are in
close geographic proximity to each other.
|To keep its membership informed about issues
facing libraries in the commonwealth and activities at other
libraries, the Virginia Library Association began publishing
Virginia Libraries in 1928. It ceased publication in 1932.
In April 1954, the VLA revived its journal as The Virginia
Librarian. It was renamed Virginia Libraries in 1996.
Virginia Library News Letter.
Modeled after an informal section of the American Library
Association for members under the age of 35, the Junior Members
Round Table (JMRT) published a newsletter that addressed
professional development. The JMRT compiled directories of
Virginia’s libraries and, in 1940, compiled a card file of
portraits in the State Library.
Annual conference brochures.
Click Image to Enlarge
Click Image to Enlarge
|By attending the annual VLA conferences, members keep up with
changing technologies in the library, literacy issues, marketing
services, and other topics that enable them to serve their
Beginning in 1996, the Virginia Library Association
Paraprofessional Forum recognized excellence among library
paraprofessionals with the Outstanding Paraprofessional Award.
VLA Paraprofessional Forum.
|The VLA was an important supporter of the Extension Division of
the State Library. Established in 1926, the Extension Division
brought books and library services to people who had no direct
access to libraries. Traveling libraries and bookmobiles reached
users who were geographically isolated by geography, by age or
infirmity, or by income.
Orange County Public Library Bookmobile, 1950s
Traveling Library, Stonewall School, Appomattox County, 1950s
||One example of the outreach
activities supported by VLA was Project Read, a 1985
photographic contest that encouraged family reading.
George D. Oberle III, multimedia and liaison
librarian at the Johnson Center Library, George Mason
University, and a member of the Virginia Library Association,
wrote the text and chose the materials for this exhibition. The
VLAPF lent materials relating to the Paraprofessional Forum.