The Library of Virginia Newsletter
September 2013

Library of Virginia Announces Finalists for the 16th Annual Literary Awards

Nine authors are the finalists for the Library of Virginia's 16th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards honoring Virginia authors or, in the case of nonfiction, works on a Virginia subject.
The finalists were chosen by an independent panel of judges from 180 books nominated for the awards. The winners in each category will be selected from among these finalists.


  • Claudia Emerson                              Secure the Shadow
  • David Huddle                                    Blacksnake at the Family Reunion
  • LuAnn Keener-Mikenas                                Homeland


  • Clifford Garstang What the Zhang Boys Know
  • Kevin Powers                                    The Yellow Birds
  • Christopher Tilghman                    The Right-Hand Shore  


  • Scott W. Berg                                     38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the                                                               Frontier's End
  • Cynthia A. Kierner                           Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her                                                             Life and Times
  • Heather Andrea Williams            Help Me to Find My People: The African American                                                                            Search for Family Lost in Slavery

The Library of Virginia's annual literary awards were first given in 1998 to recognize the best books published the previous year by Virginia authors or on a Virginia theme. The winners in each of the three categories receive a monetary prize.

This year's finalists include David Huddle, who won the Library's 2012 award for fiction, and Claudia Emerson, two-time Library of Virginia poetry award finalist, former Poet Laureate of Virginia, and winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Kevin Powers, another of this year's finalists, was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2012 National Book Award for Fiction, and won the 2013 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction.

R. T. Smith, writer-in-residence at Washington and Lee University, editor of W & L's literary journal, Shenandoah, and author of 13 books of poetry, is the recipient of the 2013 Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry. Internationally acclaimed poet Charles Wright will be honored this year as the recipient of the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award. The first Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award will be presented to Turkish novelist, screenwriter, and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature Orhan Pamuk. This award is presented in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The winners of the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry awards will be announced on Saturday, October 19, 2013, at the 16th Annual Library of Virginia Awards Celebration Honoring Virginia Authors and Friends. This gala event, sponsored by Dominion, attracts authors, publishers, and those who enjoy the written word. Award-winning author Adriana Trigiani will again serve as host for the evening.

For ticket information, please call 804-356-1928.

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Tell Us Your Story

Have you found something special in the Library of Virginia’s collections? An ancestor’s birth record, a missing family photo, the house your grandparents lived in, or the story of a long-lost relative? Something deeply important to you or to the history and culture of the commonwealth?

Celebrate your story and help everyone realize how the Library of Virginia’s collections can touch their lives. Tell us about it! If it has meaning to you, it has meaning to us and we want to recognize your big find! Tell us what you found, how you found it, and why it means so much to you by documenting your find. Tell Us Your Story forms are available in the reading rooms. You can post your big find on our “Discoveries” boards there—or post your story online at

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Flora of Virginia on display March 17–September 13, 2014

People have been collecting, describing, and drawing Virginia’s flora since the colonial period. Flora of Virginia—an exhibition on view March 17–September 13, 2014, at the Library of Virginia—highlights botanical exploration from that era through 2012’s publication of Flora of Virginia, the first statewide flora published since the 1762 Flora Virginica by Johannes Gronovius. This visually engaging exhibition is presented by the Library and the Flora of Virginia Project, Inc.

The 2012 book identifies nearly 3,200 plant species native to or naturalized in the commonwealth and includes original illustrations of key features for 1,400 plants. The product of an 11-year effort, it contains innovative keys for identification, cutting-edge taxonomy, detailed habitat and status information, and an exhaustive description of each plant.

The Flora of Virginia exhibition examines the history of botanical description and illustration, with fun facts about Virginia’s native plants interspersed throughout. Offering a comfortable mixture of science and art, the exhibition presents the important connection between the two—how science informs art and vice versa.

The exhibition will focus on questions such as:

  • What is the Flora of Virginia? Discover how the Flora book was created and how it is used by scientists and the general public to preserve habitats and gauge the health of the commonwealth’s biota (the flora and fauna of the region).
  • Who collects Virginia’s flora? Discover the personalities associated with botanical collection and description in the commonwealth, such as John Clayton, Mark Catesby, Merritt Lyndon Fernald, and others.
  • How and why do we describe plants? Explore the development of taxonomic classification (Linnaeus) and description using specimen sheets and the botanical illustrations of Virginia flora.

A drawing station will encourage visitors to try their hand at sketching a specimen, which can be submitted for viewing on the Library’s Facebook page.

—submitted by Barbara Batson, Education and Outreach Services

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Banned Books Week Set for September 22–28

Banned Books Week, the national book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read, will be held September 22–28 in libraries across Virginia and the nation. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community–-librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types–-in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Over the years thousands of books have been challenged across the nation. Among them are classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Call of the Wild by Jack London, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, and the PEN American Center. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

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Database Spotlight: Virginia Chronicle

Virginia Chronicle, an exciting new digital newspaper database provided by the Library of Virginia, offers more than 300,000 pages from nearly 60 titles and is one of the collections included on the Virginia Memory website. The majority of the content consists of late 19th- to early 20th-century newspapers, with new issues being added on a continuous basis. Virginia Chronicle includes all of the Virginia newspaper titles that are available from the Library of Congress's Chronicling America website, as well as additional titles considered to be of special interest to Virginians, such as the Farm Bureau News and Our Church Paper.

The user-friendly interface enables browsing of the collection by title or date, and offers keyword searching with optional publication title or date-range search filters. Search results are sorted by publication title, decade, and article word count. The database also provides an online text-correction feature, which allows users to help make Virginia Chronicle a better resource by correcting text errors that have been missed by character-recognition software.

A library card is not needed to access this excellent resource. Check out Virginia Chronicle today!

–submitted by Lisa Wehrmann, Public Services and Outreach

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2013 Public Library Directors' Meeting at VLA

Virginia’s public library directors will gather in Williamsburg on September 25 in advance of the annual Virginia Library Association meeting to hear updates from Librarian of Virginia Sandra G. Treadway and Library of Virginia staff. Brian Mathews, associate dean for learning and outreach at Virginia Tech University, will challenge librarians to think like a start-up. His premise is that libraries need new models, new metrics, and a new mindset in order to help their users thrive.

The afternoon session features Ed Sheary, library director with the Asheville/Buncombe Library System, and David Singleton, director of libraries at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. The duo will offer strategies for surviving and thriving through challenging times. Kendra Morgan with Webjunction will address the group about Webjunction’s partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services to help library staff prepare for the Affordable Care Act.

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Home Grown: A Celebration of Virginia's History and Culture

October is Archives Month in Virginia, a time to celebrate Virginia’s history and culture and the people responsible for preserving and making accessible the archival records of our state, communities, and people. The 2013 Archives Month theme is "Home Grown: A Celebration of Virginia’s History and Culture."

October is also a great time to explore your Virginia history by delving into an archives collection near you. Virginia is home to more than 75 archives and special collections repositories that preserve and make available Virginia’s history, and many will hold their own events to celebrate Archives Month. Here at the Library of Virginia we have more than 116 million archival items ranging from court records and diaries to photographs, newspapers, and tax lists that tell the story of Virginia and its people. We have the records of farmers and planters, indentured servants, slaves, and free blacks. Records found here—from individuals, business and social organizations, government agencies, and boards and commissions dedicated to everything from apples to wine—attest to the truth of Captain John Smith’s description of the “fruitfull and delightsome land” that was Virginia.

To celebrate Archives Month, Library of Virginia archivists will offer behind-the-scenes tours highlighting some of our archival treasures on October 2 and 16 at 10:00 AM. The hour-long tours are free, but space is limited. Call 804-692-3605 to register.

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Proposals Sought for 2014 Virginia Forum

Sponsors of the 2014 Virginia Forum, to be held at George Mason University March 13–15, 2014, are seeking paper and panel proposals for the ninth annual Virginia Forum. The Forum is an interdisciplinary conference that brings together academics, teachers, writers, archivists, museum curators, historic site interpreters, librarians, and others engaged in the study and interpretation of Virginia history and culture to share their knowledge, research, and experience. The Forum welcomes proposals from scholars, teachers, students, and professionals in all fields. The Forum is hosted by different universities and historical organizations around the state.

This year’s theme is “Traffic.” From familiar modern concerns with transportation to more general processes of commerce—both licit and illicit—to historic modes of exchange and interaction between people, issues of “Traffic” have pervaded Virginia's history.

Please submit proposals by September 30, 2013, to Additional information is available online at Direct further inquiries to

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Legislative Collections Shed Light on Virginia's Political Process

What do the following lawmakers have in common?
James H. Dillard
Frank Hall
Brian J. Moran
R. Edward Houck
Watkins Abbitt Jr.
Mary Margaret Whipple
Robert Tata

All are retired members of the General Assembly who have donated their legislative papers and, in some cases, their campaign papers to the Library of Virginia.

The Library maintains an active program to acquire the papers of members of the Virginia General Assembly. Legislative collections document the work of government and shed light on issues that were important to the citizens of the commonwealth at a particular time.

Members of the General Assembly from the 18th century to the present are represented in the collections of the Library of Virginia. Among those earlier legislators whose papers enrich our understanding of our past are Zachariah Johnston, who as chair of the House committee on religion helped to pass the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee, who served in the Continental Congress, as governor of Virginia, as a member of the House of Delegates, and as a U.S. congressman.

As the official archives of the commonwealth and the reference library at the seat of government, the Library houses the most comprehensive collection of materials on Virginia government, history, and culture available anywhere. The papers of these state legislators document the political history of Virginia by providing evidence of changes in laws, politics, and society through the years. They enrich our understanding of the political process.

Finding aids exist for the processed collections of legislative papers and offer researchers biographical information, an overview of the scope and content of the collection, and sometimes a list of names appearing in correspondence.

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Only Four Spaces Left on the Library of Virginia’s Literary Tour of England!

The Library of Virginia and the Woman's Club present A LITERARY TOUR OF ENGLAND, April 20–27, 2014, an 8-day, 7-night excursion through England with special behind-the-scenes tours and events such as Chawton House Library (one of Jane Austen’s homes); Winchester Cathedral (resting place of Jane Austen); Stourhead House Gardens and a Walking Tour of Bath; Thomas Hardy’s Dorset; the British Library at Windsor Castle; the British Museum Library; and a private tea reception and special-access tour of Highclere Castle, filming location for Downton Abbey! For more information call Kat Spears at 804-692-3813.

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