The Library of Virginia Newsletter
June 2009

Participants Judge Broadband Summit a Success

Fran Freimarck, director of the Pamunkey Regional Library, and Delegate Chris Peace
Fran Freimarck, director of the Pamunkey Regional Library, and Delegate Chris Peace.

The Virginia Opportunity Online Broadband Summit held last month brought together representatives from the 17 libraries eligible for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant opportunity with local partners and state leaders. The group quickly became engaged in the summit content, participating in fruitful conversations that began at the opening reception and continued through the summit’s closing.

At the summit's conclusion, the local partner that had accompanied the Essex County Public Library's director announced that he now clearly understood what the library contributed to the community and that he was returning home prepared to support the director's wish for a new library branch. The county administrator has formed a committee to begin discussions on a branch library, with a first meeting planned for June 3. Another library director has scheduled one of the Library of Virginia's library development consultants to make a presentation to the county's board of supervisors to amplify the points made at the summit. The Virginia Employment Commission's representative at the summit was so impressed with what he heard that he has called to set up a meeting with his agency head, key staff members, and the Library of Virginia to explore how the VEC and public libraries might forge a more effective partnership to meet citizens' workforce transition needs.

The Library of Virginia is communicating with each of the eligible libraries, local partners, and regional leaders to determine each library's broadband situation and which of the Gates grant categories for funding will be most beneficial to them. The Summit Advisory Group met on May 27 with representatives from the Library of Virginia and the Office of Information Policy at the American Library Association to set a vision for the grant process and sustainability plan. One of the key ideas engendered by the summit was the need to pursue and foster partnerships, collaborations, and cooperative ventures between public libraries and economic development organizations within their communities. The Library of Virginia and public librarians are being encouraged to seek new partnerships and venues to spread the word about library activities and needs, especially in the area of high-speed Internet connectivity.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to improving public library connectivity—specifically the foundation wants to bring every public library that has a connectivity speed of less than 1.5 megabytes up to at least that minimum level. The goal is increased Internet connectivity speed for public libraries in Virginia and the creation of a secure and sustainable funding stream for connectivity.

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Poe Young Writers' Competition The People's Pick

The results are in! The response to the Poe Young Writers’ Competition, sponsored by the Library of Virginia and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, was wonderful. We received dozens of inspired works of poetry and prose, ranging from mysterious to murderous. Hats off to all who submitted their work for consideration. Poe would be proud!

Our contest judges did the tough work of narrowing the field to six finalists for each category. Now you have an opportunity to let us know which of them is your favorite. Read the poetry and short story entries, and vote for your favorite at The winners of this “People’s Pick” competition will be recognized at the opening reception for the Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster exhibition at the Library of Virginia on July 17, 2009.

The People's Pick Poll will end on June 30, 2009.

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New Library Sign a Community Effort

The Halifax Public Library is displaying an attractive new sign. After most of the letters had worn off the old metal sign that was attached to the building, the library went in search of a new way to identify the library.

Cheryl Watts, owner of the Sign Design, sketched out a proportioned diagram of the sign and library logo and ordered the lettering. The Friends of the Library paid for the letters and logo with money collected through the Friend’s semiannual book sales. Mr. Espy, Halifax's town manager, approved the plans and explained the town’s guidelines for signage. Bill Wolfe, the county’s director of General Properties and Maintenance, provided supplies and allotted time for county employees to attach the logo and lettering by drilling holes in the brick and centering the letters.

The sign itself was constructed by F. Eily’s masonry class from Halifax High School. The students, who worked diligently laying brick and mortar as they built the sign, include: Kaleb Long, Robert Featherston, Michael Freitas, LeAndré Robertson, Terrell Miller, Chris Hunt, Marcus Talley, Jamal Traynham, Darrin Crawley, Lemal Adams, and Demetrick Jones.

Now that the work on the sign is complete, a group called the Master Gardeners has agreed to landscape an area surrounding the sign. Bill McCaleb, Doris Koch, Amiel Cavanaugh, and Sonya Post are some of the gardeners involved creating a beautiful area in front of the library.

"This was truly a joint effort. The sign beautifully brings attention to the front of the library," said Rhonda Griffin, library director. "Everyone pulled together and worked hard to create this eye-catching entrance. It is amazing what can be done when a community comes together."

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Fifty Years of Quality Service to Virginia's Libraries

Many public libraries in Virginia that got their start in the period from the 1950s through the 1990s owe their success to the efforts and expertise of one unassuming woman—Ida Patton. Of the 91 public library systems in Virginia, Patton worked with nearly half of them as demonstration or establishment projects funded with federal money.

In 1995 Patton retired from the Library of Virginia and began work as a public services consultant for the Washington County Public Library. At the time, she planned to work a few years and retire permanently. This June, 14 years later, Patton will retire from the Washington County Public Library, having enriched that library immensely by her service.

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Obamas to be Honorary Chairs of National Book Festival

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will serve as honorary chairs of the 2009 National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress. Now in its ninth year, this popular daylong celebration of the joys of reading and lifelong literacy will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2009, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public.

Former first lady Laura Bush, a retired teacher and public school librarian, started the festival in 2001, modeling it after events she held as first lady of Texas.

The 2009 National Book Festival will feature about 70 award-winning authors, poets, and illustrators. Festival-goers can meet and hear firsthand from their favorite authors, get books signed, have photos taken with PBS storybook characters, and participate in a variety of learning activities.

The Pavilion of the States will represent reading- and library-promotion programs and literary events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. trusts and territories.

The popular Let's Read America pavilion will offer reading activities that are fun for the whole family. The Library of Congress Pavilion will showcase the cultural treasures to be found in its vast online collections and offer information about its popular programs.

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Virginia Poetry Champion Wins National Poetry Out Loud Contest

William Farley, Virginia's Poetry Out Loud champion, won the national competition on April 27 at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Farley was among 12 finalists and 53 state champions from around the country who participated in the fourth national poetry recitation contest, sponsored by the National Arts Endowment and the Poetry Foundation.

Farley, of Arlington, captivated both judges and audience with his poetry recitations to gain the title of 2009 Poetry Out Loud National Champion. Farley receives a $20,000 award and his high school, Washington-Lee High School, will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. He plans to attend Bucknell University next year.

The state finals for the Poetry Out Loud competition were held in March at the Library of Virginia. The competition in Virginia was organized by SPARC in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Library of Virginia, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. More than 7,000 Virginia students participated in this year’s Poetry Out Loud program. The Library has partnered with the Virginia Commission for the Arts on Poetry Out Loud since program’s inception in 2005.

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by building on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the popularity of rap music among youth. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Now in its fourth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud has inspired thousands of high school students to discover classic and contemporary poetry. To find out how to get involved in the 2010 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, visit

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Staunton Library Friends Receive Extra Support

The National Home Library Foundation has made a grant to the Friends of the Staunton Library to enhance adult literacy. The grant will be used to purchase additional books.

Ruth Arnold, director of the Staunton Public Library, said, “Patrons who are learning to read as adults use the Staunton Public Library for books and as a place to work with their tutors. In addition people come to us for help learning English as a second language and, in due course, finding out how to apply for U.S. citizenship.”

Books to be purchased with this grant will include guides to practical subjects like home budgeting, renting an apartment, and health and nutrition. Other book purchases will be made to motivate adults to read more. Current guides to naturalization and citizenship will also be purchased for public use. These new books will be on the shelves later this summer.

The National Home Library Foundation has a long history of helping libraries improve literacy. The Foundation was established in 1932 and rededicated in 1963. Its board is currently led by Lynda Johnson Robb, former first lady of Virginia and a longtime advocate of the importance of reading and books. In making this grant, the trustees of the National Home Library Foundation have noted that “literacy lifts us all up.”

The Staunton Public Library serves the residents of Staunton and surrounding communities with information resources that help fulfill the intellectual, educational, social, and recreational needs of all people in the city. The Friends of the Staunton Library is a nonprofit group of patrons and volunteers who work with the library staff to identify needs and strengthen the library's programs. Securing and administering a grant like this is one way the Friends make the Staunton Public Library stronger.

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$1,000 Grant Sparked Young Adult Club

The Halifax County–South Boston Regional Library received a $1,000 grant from the National Home Library Foundation to be used toward the purchase of young adult books.

Flyers were posted in the library and announcements were made at the middle and high schools requesting that teenagers meet at the South Boston Library and bring suggestions for “appropriate” young adult books. Several young adults attended the first meeting and brought lists of books to recommend. After a couple of hours of discussion and debate, the young adult advisory board agreed upon a list predominantly of manga books to include in the library’s collection.

Manga is roughly translated from the Japanese as “comic books,” but really covers a wide range of genres. These books have a very distinctive art style and have been hugely popular with all ages in Japan for years.

A total of 120 books were selected. In addition to the manga books, several books were selected from a list of books recommended by the American Library Association for “reluctant readers.”

The grant that sparked this initial meeting was just the beginning. The group of young adults, age 15–21, has now formed a Young Adult Club that meets at the South Boston Library every Thursday at 4:00 PM.

In addition to discussing books, the group members bring PlayStation II games and watch anime videos projected on a screen hanging on the wall. Other activities have included local author Ron Miller discussing some of his books and presenting pieces of his remarkable artwork. Japan Outreach Initiative coordinator Kazuko Yamasaki also joined the group to teach the teens some basics about Japanese language and culture. The Young Adult Club is also making plans to provide a Web page for the library that would be especially designed for young adults.

The Friends of the Library is contributing to the club as well. In addition to providing money for summer reading, the Friends of the Library have agreed to purchase a Wii video game console for the Young Adult Club. In exchange for the support of the Friends, the Young Adult Club has offered to help move books and set up for the Friends of the Library June Book Sale.

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