The Library of Virginia Newsletter
November 2013



The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the winners of the 16th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards, sponsored by Dominion. The October 19 awards celebration was hosted by award-winning Virginia author David Baldacci. Award categories were fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and literary lifetime achievement. Winners of the Library of Virginia’s Annual Literary Awards receive a monetary prize and a handsome engraved crystal book

Clifford Garstang is the recipient of the 2013 Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction for What the Zhang Boys Know, which the judges felt was a seamless tale of an immigrant seeking a new wife and mother for his sons. The novel is an enticing collection of interconnected stories about characters who live in a condominium in Washington, D.C.

Clifford Garstang began writing fiction after a career in international law with one of the world’s largest law firms and with the World Bank in Washington, D.C. His first book, the story collection In an Uncharted Country (2009), has been described as “impeccably written, sumptuously imagined, and completely enchanting,” and his second book, the novel in stories What the Zhang Boys Know (2012), was called “a wonderful and haunting book.” In addition todegrees in philosophy, English, law, and public administration, he holds an MFA from QueensUniversity of Charlotte. He is the co-founder and editor of Prime Number Magazine and currentlylives near Staunton, Virginia.

The other finalists for the fiction prize were: The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers and The Right Hand Shore by Christopher Tilghman.

The winner of the 2012 Literary Award for Nonfiction is Scott W. Berg for 38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's End. The judges felt that Berg’s vivid account of the 1862 the Dakota War in Minnesota—which began with a broken treaty, ended with the largest mass execution in American history, and ushered in a pattern of tragedy from Little Bighorn to Wounded Knee—offers important insight on a little-known but vitally important episode in American history.

Born and raised in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Berg received a BA in architecture from the University of Minnesota, an MA in English from Miami University of Ohio, and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University, where he now teaches nonfiction writing and literature. Since 1999, he has also been a contributor to the Washington Post and other publications. Berg lives in Reston, Virginia, with his wife and their two sons.

The other nonfiction finalists were: Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times by Cynthia A. Kierner and Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery by Heather Andrea Williams.

Luann Keener-Mikenas won the 2013 Literary Award for Poetry for Homeland. Homeland explores a variety of subjects from the wonder of American nature to the brutality and horror of modernity in poems replete with masterful lyricism that sing of a “many-corridored memory” in art, science, and history, according to the judges.

LuAnn Keener-Mikenas’s work has appeared in Poetry, Shenandoah, Quarterly West, Chelsea, New Orleans Review, Louisiana Literature, and many other publications. She earned an MFA from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and taught English at Virginia Tech before making a career change. She is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice, a counselor at Randolph College, and a provider for Centra Hospice.

The other poetry prize finalists were Secure the Shadow: Poems by Claudia Emersonand Blacksnake at the Family Reunion: Poems by David Huddle.

The winners of the People’s Choice Awards are Come August, Come Freedom by Gigi Amateau in the fiction category and Whispers of Rebellion: Narrating Gabriel’s Conspiracyby Dr. Michael Nicholls in the nonfiction category. Winners are chosen by readers voting online and in libraries. Winners of the People’s Choice Awards receive a monetary prize and an engraved crystal book.

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. Among Smith’s works are Messenger and Outlaw Style, both recipients of the Library of Virginia's Literary Award for Poetry. The Weinstein Prize recognizes significant recent contributions to the art of poetry and is awarded on the basis of a range of achievement in the field of poetry. There is no formal application process or competition. Selection and notification of the annual prize is made by a three-member board of curators.

The recipient of the 2013 Library of Virginia Literary Lifetime Achievement Award is Charles Wright. Wright received one of the Library of Virginia’s inaugural literary awards in 1998 for Black Zodiac and won again in 2003 for A Short History of the Shadow. The author of more than 21 books, his many honors include the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award in Poetry, the PEN Translation Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, Wright retired in 2010 after serving as the Souder Family Professor of English there since 1983.

The first Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award went 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.

Next year’s Literary Awards Celebration will be held on October 18, 2014.

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Save the Dates for the 19th Holiday Shoppers Fair: Nov. 8 & 9

The 2013 Museum Stores of Richmond Holiday Shoppers Fair will be held at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen on Friday and Saturday, November 8 and 9, 2013, from 9:30 AM until 5:00 PM. The Virginia Shop at the Library of Virginia and the Virginia State Capitol will be there, along with more than a dozen Richmond-area museum gift shops, selling its wares, including many unique and unusual items. Proceeds benefit the museums. The Cultural Arts Center is located at 2880 Mountain Road in Glen Allen. Admission is free.

A special members-only preview and reception will be held on Thursday, November 7, from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. All museums will extend a 10 percent discount to members at the preview.

The Virginia Shops will have author sales and signings by Dale M. Brumfield and Patricia Cecil Hass on Thursday, by Bill Lohman and Mary Miley Theobald on Friday, and by Clay McLeod Chapman and Beth Thomas on Saturday.

Other participating museum stores include Agecroft Hall Museum and Gardens, American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Preservation Virginia, Richmond Railway Museum, Science Museum of Virginia, Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Virginia Historical Society, Virginia Holocaust Museum, and the Virginia War Memorial.

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2013 Jefferson Cup Awards for Children’s and Young Adult Literature Announced

The 2013 Jefferson Cup Committee is pleased to announce its selections for this year’s awards. The 2013 Jefferson Cup Award for Older Readers went to Steve Sheinkin for Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. The 2013 Jefferson Cup Award for Younger Readers went to Henry Cole for Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad.

The 2013 Honor Books for Older Readers are Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel by Gigi Amateau and The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure by Martin W. Sandler.

The Honor Books for Younger Readers are Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim and Barnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World by Tracey Fern.

The Jefferson Cup Committee reviewed almost 150 books this year in order to select the winning titles. The committee has ten members: a chairperson and vice chairperson (selected by the previous year’s committee), one person from each Virginia Library Association region (total of six persons) selected by the current chair, the past chair of the previous year’s Jefferson Cup Committee, and the outgoing chairperson of the Youth Services Forum. All committee members are members of VLA.

–submitted by Carol Farmer, Chair, Jefferson Cup Committee

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Library of Virginia Provides National Geographic Kids to Public Libraries and Public Schools

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the launch of National Geographic Kids through Find It Virginia and through public libraries and K–12 public schools. National Geographic Kids provides reputable, authoritative, and appropriate online content that brings children the world in a way they have never seen it before. Geared for children between ages 6 and 14, the website features educational games, videos, and other activities, centered mostly on animals and the natural world. Fun and substantive, National Geographic Kids will take visitors on amazing adventures in science, nature, culture, archaeology, and space.

National Geographic Kids includes

  • National Geographic Kids magazine 2009–present (three month embargo)
  • 200 National Geographic Kids books that entertain and teach, featuring National Geographic’s award-winning photos and maps
  • 500 child-friendly, downloadable images for educational purposes, perfect for classroom use and student assignments. Examples include:
    • Mammals, fish, reptiles, and insects
    • Physical features such as icebergs, deserts, mountains, and forests
    • Peoples and cultures, especially children, from a variety of countries
    • History, science, and technology subjects

This resource is made possible by the Library of Virginia through funding provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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Virginia Newspaper Project Connects with Augusta County Genealogical Society

The Staunton Tribune

Errol Somay, director of the Virginia Newspaper Project, gave a presentation about the VNP to the Augusta County Genealogical Society at the Waynesboro Public Library on October 16. While there he was presented with a noteworthy gift to the Library of Virginia.

Somay spoke on the history of the VNP, its cataloging and microfilming initiatives as a participant in the National Endowment for the Humanities–funded U.S. Newspaper Program, and recent efforts to digitize thousands of pages as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program. The presentation included a slide show of interesting items in the collections from around the state.

A lively question-and-answer period wandered over a wide range of issues from the preservation and digitization of Virginia newspapers to the history of newspaper publishing in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The genealogical society presented the Library of Virginia with a collection of five issues from two early-20th-century African American newspapers. The issues of the Staunton Tribune and Staunton Reporter are significant because of the extreme rarity of African American newspapers. When even a few issues are discovered, it’s cause for celebration.

Leslie Hall, president of the Augusta County Genealogical Society, and Laten Bechtel, also of the AGCS, were instrumental in scheduling the talk and donating the newspapers. The AGCS acquired the papers from Jennifer Vickers, a fourth-generation Staunton resident.

Working with expert colleagues at the Library of Virginia, the VNP has a commendable track record of acquiring historical newspapers and preserving them while ensuring open access to the items for the citizens of Virginia. An addition of African American newspapers to the collections is particularly gratifying.

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Winter Reading Program Focuses on Early Literacy Skills

Baby, is it ever cold outside! What better way to spend a frosty evening than snuggled up with a special child sharing a good book. Perhaps you have warm childhood memories of time spent with a family member or caregiver listening to stories. Maybe you even remember your favorite books. But did you know that time spent reading with a caring adult may have been the key to your being able to read and comprehend this article today? The Library of Virginia does, which is why public libraries all over the state will be offering a Winter Reading Program for children from birth to 5 years of age during the month of February: “Snuggle Up With a Book” features the artwork of Michael Hall from his book My Heart Is Like a Zoo.

If you have children in school, then you’re aware that public libraries offer a Summer Reading Program each year designed to keep children from losing over summer break what they’ve learned during the course of the school year. The Winter Reading Program, by contrast, is for pre-readers. There is no minimum number of minutes or books to read in order to complete the program. Children simply get a sticker for each book that’s shared with them. The program is meant to focus attention on the important role that parents and primary caregivers play in their children’s early literacy development. Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they learn how to read and write. Head Start programs and preschool classes cannot make up for what is not being done at home, particularly during the first three years of a child’s life. Without a strong foundation, children will spend more time catching up than actually learning to read once they enter school, and many will fall permanently behind. Studies show that as many as one-third of children enter school without the necessary skills.

Public libraries in Virginia are hoping to drastically reduce that number by calling attention to the importance of shared reading, and by educating parents on what they can be doing at home to foster their child’s early literacy development. Reading is not an innate ability, but most children will learn to read easily and naturally once they’ve acquired the necessary skills. Parents should never push their child to read. Early literacy is not about flash cards, “Little Genius” DVDs, or leveled readers; it is all about talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing together. It is a simple extension of what you are likely to be doing together on a daily basis already.

If you and your child have attended a library lapsit program, toddler time, or preschool story time, then you have already experienced a good deal of what you can be doing at home to encourage reading readiness. Ask your librarian for library and online resources that can help you get started, and be sure to sign your child up for the Winter Reading Program while you’re there. Then snuggle up and start building your child’s literacy skills along with the warm memories.

—submitted by Carol Meltzer Frostick, former Youth Services Librarian at Mary Riley Styles Library

Note: Cary Meltzer Frostick will create a training manual for the Library of Virginia’s Winter Reading Program. She is a strong advocate for placing public libraries at the forefront of early literacy support for parents and caregivers. She has worked with Head Start, social workers, and community action agencies to create and conduct family literacy programs and provide one-on-one early literacy support. She reviews books for School Library Journal, and has written numerous articles for professional journals and local news publications. She received her MLIS from Syracuse University.

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Scanning at Czech-Slovak Festival Attracts a Crowd

The 1st Czech-Slovak Folklife Festival was held at the Prince George Regional Heritage Center in Prince George on October 19. The Library of Virginia was asked by festival organizers to participate in the event and scan family papers that attendees were invited to bring to the event.

Carl Childs and Renee Savits from the Library of Virginia attended the event and scanned 281 images from 27 donors. Savits, the Civil War 150 Legacy Project archivist, was overwhelmed with people waiting in line at the opening of the festival to share their family information and have their items scanned. The lines continued until well past the festival’s closing time. Festival coordinators expected about 400 to 500 attendees, but by the end of the day estimated attendance to be 1,000. People brought family photographs, letters, naturalization papers, organizational ribbons, and family genealogies to be scanned.

“We are delighted with response to this scanning event,” said Childs. “These scanned items contribute to a greater understanding of the history of Virginia’s Czech- and Slovak-American families. We hope to hold more outreach scanning events of this nature as time and staff permit.”

The donors received copies of the scans, which will be added to the Library’s collections and made available on the Library’s Virginia Memory website (

–submitted by Renee Savits, Archives, Records and Collections Services

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