The Library of Virginia Newsletter
February 2015

Eight Chosen as 2015 Strong Men & Women in Virginia History

In observance of Black History Month the Library of Virginia and Dominion Virginia Power are honoring eight distinguished Virginians as the 2015 Strong Men & Women in Virginia History for their contributions to Virginia and the nation. Those being honored this year include men and women who rose to become generals, war heroes, ministers, educators, musicians, basketball players, and scientists. Along the way they touched the lives of thousands and pushed back the barriers of inequality.

The 2015 honorees are:

Lott Cary (ca. 1780–November 10, 1828), Charles City County, Baptist Minister and Settler of Liberia

William Harvey Carney (February 29, 1840–December 9, 1908), Norfolk, Medal of Honor Recipient

Earl Francis Lloyd (b. 1928), Alexandria, Basketball Pioneer

James “Plunky” Branch (b. 1947), Richmond, Musician and Educator

Sheila R. Baxter (b. 1955), Franklin, Brigadier General Army Medical Service Corps

Jamelle Smith Wilson (b. 1968), Hanover County, Educator

Beth Anne Brown (February 4, 1969–October 5, 2008), Roanoke, Astrophysicist

Alonzo Harding “Zo” Mourning Jr. (b. 1970), Chesapeake, Basketball Player and Philanthropist

Each generation of African Americans has built on the achievements of those who came before to lead the way to the future. The men and women featured in the Strong Men & Women in Virginia History program offer powerful examples of individuals who refused to be defined by their circumstances. Their biographies are a testament to the determination and perseverance displayed by extraordinary people during challenging times. Through education and advocacy, these individuals demonstrate how African Americans have actively campaigned for better lives for themselves and their people. It is these many contributions that the Strong Men & Women program seeks to share.

Biographies of the honorees will be displayed in an exhibition at the Library in February; featured on materials that have been sent to schools, libraries, and museums across Virginia; and included on an educational website for teachers and students. To learn more about these extraordinary men and women, all of whom have used their talents and creativity to push for equality and inclusion in American society, visit our website at:
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Exhibitions Coming Soon to Your Area

For those of you who cannot travel to Richmond, the Library of Virginia is pleased to offer three panel exhibitions that are traveling to Virginia libraries and historical societies. Flora of Virginia, produced incollaboration with the Flora of Virginia Project, Inc., and with support from the Virginia Native Plant Society, will be on display through March 7 at the North Suffolk Library in Suffolk and from March 9 through April 18 at the Southside Regional Library in Boynton. The exhibition will travel across the commonwealth for six-week runs through June 24, 2017.

The 2015 Strong Men & Women in Virginia History panel exhibition, in collaboration with Dominion Virginia Power, honors eight distinguished individuals and demonstrates how African Americans have actively campaigned for better lives for themselves and their people. The panel exhibition will be on view at the Library of Virginia through March 2, at Poquoson Public Library through March 14, at Alexandria Public Library from March 9 through April 18, and at the Central Chesapeake Library from March 16 through April 25. Visit for a complete schedule.

The Library’s current groundbreaking exhibition, To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade, will be on display at the Library through May 30. A panel version of the exhibition, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is currently at Hampton University Museum and will travel to Russell County Public Library in Lebanon for a six-week run starting March 23 and then to the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History for a twelve-week run.

Earlier travelling versions of Strong Men & Women and Virginia Women in History were viewed by more than 200,000 people. The 2015 editions of Strong Men & Women and Virginia Women in History panel exhibitions are almost fully booked, including new venues in Augusta County, Danville, and Bedford County. To inquire about the availability of one of the Library’s travelling exhibitions, please contact Barbara Batson, exhibitions coordinator, at 804-692-3518.

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National Organization Urges Greater E-Rate Participation

At its midwinter meeting the American Library Association launched “Got E-Rate?,” an initiative to encourage libraries to apply for Internet discounts as part of the national E-rate program. The federal program provides discounts to public libraries and to public and private K–12 schools on telecommunications services, Internet access, Wi-Fi, and other related costs, such as inside wiring. The goal of the E-Rate program is for all public libraries and schools to have access to high-speed broadband connectivity.

In Virginia, the Library of Virginia has been a leader in facilitating public library participation in the E-Rate program since 2005. For several years, the Library of Virginia has contracted with E-Rate Central to provide needed E-Rate services to Virginia’s public libraries. The services include reminder phone calls, filling out complex paperwork and forms on the libraries’ behalf, and help with appeals. In 2014, 80 Virginia public libraries participated in the E-Rate program, receiving more than $2.7 million in funding to help cover costs of telephone and Internet service. The aggregate discount rate for all libraries last year was 70 percent. Contributions from telecommunications companies provide discounts of 20–90 percent on the cost of telecommunications, Internet access, and network wiring within library and school buildings. The discounts are paid directly to the companies that provide libraries and schools with these services.

Libraries and schools in low-income urban communities and rural areas qualify for the highest discounts to assure that every American, regardless of age, income, or location, has access to the Internet. A recent report by the Federal Communications Commission says that 64 percent of residents in rural Virginia do not have access to broadband service that meets the agency's new benchmarks. Statewide, 21 percent of residents lack access. The FCC recently updated its benchmark speed to reflect advances in technology, consumer demand, and offerings by broadband providers. The new benchmark for downloads is 25 megabits per second, up from four megabits. The new benchmark for uploads is three megabits per second, up from one megabit.

Virginia’s librarians understand that broadband speed is essential to our libraries. “Libraries need broadband to share with the community as a gathering place,” said Tom Shepley, director of Pamunkey Regional Library. “But the community needs broadband to access library and other resources. My office is less than 100 miles from the White House, and, within a 1,400-square-mile service area, I would estimate that more than 900 square miles of that does not have broadband coverage. E-Rate is essential to keeping access affordable, but if the access is just not available to begin with, a discount on it doesn't help.”

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Miller Center Launches Website Offering Lessons from History for Today's Issues

The Miller Center at the University of Virginia has a new website entitled Great Issues, which relates scholarly research on historical events with modern policy issues and offers valuable information from experts in the form of short video clips. The Great Issues website features short videotaped interviews in which experts provide historical insight into some of the nation’s most pressing challenges. It can be found at

The effort is part of the Miller Center’s Great Issues program, which connects the public, media, and policy community with historical expertise on today’s policy issues. The program hosts a wide range of scholarly events and conducts in-depth interviews with guests.

—submitted by Stefanie Abbott, Miller Center

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Governor Announces Appointments to the State Historical Records Advisory Board

Governor Terry McAuliffe has appointed five new members and reappointed two members to the State Historical Records Advisory Board, which serves as the central advisory body for historical records planning and related projects developed and carried out by the state. The board may publish and sponsor surveys of conditions and needs of historical records in the state, review records and proposals by institutions in the state, and make recommendations to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

The newly appointed members of SHRAB are:

Jay Gaidmore of Toano, the Marian and Alan McLeod Director of the Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, the College of William & Mary
Kate Gruber of Williamsburg, Curator, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
Cyndy A. Neville, MAEd, of Triangle, President/CEO, Neville Empowerment Network, Inc.
William B. Obrochta of Richmond, Manager of Educational Services, Virginia Historical Society
Megan H. Rhyne, Esq., of Williamsburg, Executive Director, Virginia Coalition for Open Government

The governor has reappointed Ervin L. Jordan Jr. of Charlottesville, associate professor, general faculty, and research archivist, Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia and Michele Lee of Falls Church, special collections librarian at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

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ALA Announces Top Books and Video for Children and Young Adults

The American Library Association recently announced the top books and video for children and young adults—including the Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Printz, Carnegie, and Belpré awards—at its midwinter meeting in Chicago.

A partial list of the 2015 award winners follows:

The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature went to The Crossover, written by Kwame Alexander, a native of Reston, Virginia. Two Newbery Honor Books also were named: El Deafo, written and illustrated by Virginia author Cece Bell, and Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, which earlier won 2014 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for kids went to The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat. Six Caldecott Honor Books also were named: Nana in the City, illustrated and written by Lauren Castillo; The Noisy Paint Box: The  Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art, illustrated by Mary GrandPre and written by Barb Rosenstock; Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, illustrated by Jon Klassen and written by Mac Barnett; Viva Frida, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales; The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, illustrated by Melissa Sweet and written by Jen Bryant; and This One Summer, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki and written by Mariko Tamaki.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards honor outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.

Brown Girl Dreaming, written by Jacqueline Woodson, is the winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award. The book earlier won the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.Three King Author Honor Books were selected: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson, and How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon.

Firebird, illustrated by Christopher Myers and written by Misty Copeland, is the winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. TwoKing Illustrator Honor Books were selected: Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, illustrated by Christine Robinson and written by Patricia Hruby Powell, and Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, illustrated by Frank Morrison and written by Katheryn Russell-Brown.

The Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature went to I'll Give You the Sun, written by Jandy Nelson. Four Printz Honor Books also were named: And We Stay, by Jenny Hubbard; The Carnival at Bray, by Jessie Ann Foley; Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith; and This One Summer, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.

The Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children’s video went to Paul R. Gagne and Melissa Reilly Ellard of Weston Woods Studios, Inc., producers of the animated version of Patrick McDonnell's 2008 book Me … Jane.

The Pura Belpré Awards honor a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

Viva Frida, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, is the winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award. Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books were selected: Little Roja Riding Hood, illustrated by Susan Guevara and written by Susan Middleton Elya; Green Is a Chile Pepper, illustrated by John Parra and written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong; and Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation, illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill, written by Marjorie Agosin and illustrated by Lee White, is the winner of the Pura Belpré Author Award. Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, written by Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrated by Raul Colon, was named a Belpré Author Honor Book.

Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards guide parents, educators, librarians, and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by judging committees of librarians and other children's experts, the awards encourage original and creative work. For more information on the ALA youth media awards and notables, please visit and

–from ALA Reports

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