The Library of Virginia Newsletter
November 2015

Holiday Schedule

The Library of Virginia will be closed from Thursday, December 24, through Saturday, December 26, 2015, for the Christmas holiday. We also will be closed from Friday, January 1, through Saturday, January 2, 2016.

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Time to Nominate Books for the 2016 Library of Virginia Literary Awards

Now is your chance to nominate books for the Library of Virginia's 2016 literary awards. The deadline to nominate books for the annual awards is February 12, 2016. Books eligible for the awards must have been written by a Virginia author or, for nonfiction books, have a Virginia–related theme. A Virginia author is defined as a writer meeting one or more of the following qualifications: a native–born Virginian, an author living in Virginia, or an author whose permanent home address is in Virginia. Entries can be submitted in the following categories: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Entries for the 2016 awards must have been published and distributed between January 1 and December 31, 2015. Four copies must be submitted for each book nominated.

The following types of books are not eligible for the awards: reference works, anthologies, documentary editions, children's and juvenile literature, photographic books, self–help books, and "how–to" books.

Entry forms can be submitted online ( or completed as an interactive PDF and mailed to: The Library of Virginia Literary Awards, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23219–8000. For more information, please call (804) 692–3535.

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Reference Question of the Month: Who’s Been Expelled from the State Legislature?

With its massive collection of manuscripts and books on the commonwealth, the Library of Virginia is an invaluable resource. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that its staff members routinely receive esoteric questions about Virginia and its history, people, and culture.

This month's question comes from Ballotpedia, the online encyclopedia of American politics and elections, which is compiling a list of the state legislators from all 50 states who have been removed from office through expulsion. The organization's research uncovered one Virginia legislator, Delegate R. D. Ruffin, who was expelled in 1876 from the Virginia General Assembly. They asked for confirmation of Ruffin's expulsion and whether others had been expelled, including each legislator's name, chamber, year of expulsion, and reason for removal.

Reference librarian Lisa Wehrmann researched Delegate Ruffin and found that he was expelled from the House of Delegates for theft in 1876. Further research revealed that five members of the House of Burgesses were expelled between 1742 and 1765 for offenses ranging from "enormous misdemeanours" (sic) to theft, extortion, and forgery.

Three members of the House of Delegates were removed from office between 1782 and 1876 for crimes ranging from defamation of the House of Delegates to "conduct grossly immoral, disgraceful and highly reprehensible" to theft. Delegate James McGrew was expelled for defamation of the House of Delegates in 1782, but the expulsion was lifted during the next session when McGrew was re–elected.

Two members of the Virginia Senate were expelled: one for bribery in 1875 and the other in 1926 for two prior forgery convictions.

The Virginia Convention of 1861, also known later as the Secession Convention, convened on February 13, 1861, on the eve of the Civil War, to consider whether Virginia should secede from the United States. Twelve members of this convention were expelled—11 for being part of the Wheeling Convention, which was called to repeal the Ordinance of Secession, and the other for "disloyalty to the Confederate States" and "adherence to the enemies of the same."

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Year-End Giving Supports the Commonwealth’s Treasures

As we approach the holidays, we would like to ask you to consider a year–end gift in support of the Library of Virginia. Funding from individuals like you—people who truly appreciate the importance of our collections—plays a vital role in sustaining our acquisition and restoration efforts.

Your donation of at least $50 will also provide all the benefits that come with membership, including an annual print subscription to Broadside, our quarterly magazine; 10% off all purchases at the Virginia Shops; and invitations to special members-only events and programs. Most importantly, by making a tax–deductible gift, you help ensure that the Library is able to continue to promote, preserve, and exhibit the Commonwealth's vast treasures.

You can make your gift by printing and mailing the form located on the Library's website ( or by calling Dana Brown at (804) 692–3900.

—submitted by Amy Bridge, Executive Director, Library of Virginia Foundation

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Reading Rooms Change to Improve the Visitor Experience

If you are a frequent visitor to the Library of Virginia's reading rooms, you will have no doubt noticed several changes to both the physical layout of the research areas and also to Library processes. The Library receives high marks for customer service, but we know that there are always ways to improve the customer experience. In a changing world where access to and use of information is quickly evolving, a library designed in 1997 is sure to require some upgrades. Over the last year a special workgroup with representatives from various Library departments has assessed, made recommendations, and helped implement significant changes to service in consultation with our public service staff. These changes have one primary goal: to create a more seamless experience for our visitors. A recent survey of Library visitors who were attending a major genealogical conference emphasized the importance of customer experience. Attendees overwhelmingly expressed high satisfaction with their Library visit even though many did not find exactly the information that they hoped to locate.

Some of the changes we have implemented should save researchers many steps. Anyone who has done research in multiple types of sources and original manuscripts knows that it can be arduous and frustrating. Time is precious, especially for our many visitors from other states and from overseas. Our new in–person registration process allows visitors to input their own information to receive a library card. We have also consolidated multiple registration points into one. In the West Reading Room—the central place for historical and genealogical research—our copy center has been moved to a more central place and staff service points consolidated in order to streamline the researcher experience. Moving staff and collections is crucial to improving visitor convenience. The central circulation area is now staffed with librarians and archivists to speed the consultation process, while heavily used materials are now housed in a new Local History and Genealogy Room near the central circulation area.

Even as we make these changes, the rapid evolution of access technologies, digitization, and other processes will force a constant reassessment. To evaluate the changes and plan for the future, the Library is committed to gathering visitor feedback and encouraging staff involvement in order to fine–tune our approach and provide resources and training for staff as needed. In fact, these changes are just the beginning of several larger projects to evaluate our collections, develop staff training, and plan for a major redesign of the Library's public spaces. Time waits for no librarian.

—submitted by Gregg Kimball, Public Services and Outreach

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Little Free Libraries Bring Books to Sparsely Populated Areas of Highland County

The Highland County Public Library is expanding in a small but accessible way. Highland County is the least populous county in Virginia with less than 3,000 residents. One quadrant of the county has no stores or places to find or share books.

To reach citizens, the Highland County Public Library joined forces with local Ruritan Clubs, the Monterey Lions Club, and Highland County Public Schools. The result is five Little Free Libraries up and running around the county. They were built and placed on the properties of the Mill Gap Ruritans, Blue Grass Ruritans, Bolar Ruritans, and Blue Grass Ruritans. The Monterey Lions Club purchased one that was placed on Highland County Public School property next to the playground, ball fields, community pool, and community walking trail. The Highland County Public Library has pledged to check on the Little Free Libraries every month or two to make sure they are fully stocked.

Little Free Libraries is a nonprofit organization begun in 2009 that supports the worldwide movement to offer free books housed in small containers to members of local communities. The goal is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as people share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations.

—submitted by Tomi Herold, Library Director, Highland County Public Library

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Governor Fills Library Board Vacancy

Governor Terry McAuliffe has named Mohammed Esslami to fill the vacancy on the Library Board created by the death of board chair Ernestine Middleton. His term will run through June 30, 2016.

Esslami is the manager of the George Mason Regional Library, a branch of the Fairfax County Public Library. He earned his master of library science degree from The Catholic University in 1999 and began his career with the Arlington County Public Library as a reference librarian. He joined the staff of the Fairfax County Public Library in 2003 as an assistant branch manager at the Woodrow Wilson Library. Esslami is fluent in Arabic, French, and English.

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2016 Student Writing Contest for Virginia Women in History

Virginia students in grades 6–12 are invited to honor outstanding women in Virginia history by participating in the Library of Virginia's Virginia Women in History student writing contest. Four winning essays will be chosen, two from students in grades 6–8, and two from students in grades 9–12. Contest rules can be found at

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