LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA
FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN
LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA FIVE-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN
In 2023, the Library of Virginia will be an open, inclusive, and empowering force in the life of every Virginian.
Since its official founding in 1823, the Library of Virginia has responded to the needs of a changing commonwealth. The Library has its roots in the colonial-era governor's Council library, which contained not only statutes and law books but also reference works on a range of subjects. Throughout its history, the Library has continued to collect materials that both record our past and inform our present.
The Library's first catalog included works of history, biography, agriculture, and horticulture, and the Library offered close to 17,500 volumes by the mid-19th century. Following the Civil War, the Library’s collecting changed in response to an evolving mission. In 1873, the General Assembly authorized the Library to expand its collections to include “any book, pamphlet, or manuscript, work of art, or relic relating to the history of Virginia,” making the Library a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
By the early years of the 20th century, the Library began to serve more Virginians than ever before. Interlibrary loans, a lending program for the blind and sight-impaired, and traveling libraries reached citizens who were far from Richmond or whose communities did not have libraries of their own. Early collaborative efforts with other institutions, such as with the Virginia Historical Society at the Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition in 1907, helped to cement the Library's reputation and extend its outreach beyond Virginia.
In 1800, Governor James Monroe requested that the General Assembly take action to prevent the decay and loss of the manuscript records documenting Virginia’s early legislative history, a decision that served as the catalyst for the Library's preservation and conservation efforts that continue to this day. Throughout the 19th century, the Library amassed large quantities of public records of the governor and the General Assembly, among other state officials. After repeated steps to organize and preserve these records, it was not until the Library became an independent state agency in 1903 that the archival collections grew exponentially. The Library acquired many record groups, such as those of the Board of Public Works, the Land Office, and the Virginia War History Commission, during the first half of the 20th century. Following a 1940 statute that authorized most state agencies to deposit old records in the state archives, the state’s records management program was transferred to the Library in 1959.
As new technologies developed, the Library adapted to manage them. Photographs, such as those of Harry C. Mann and the 1939 World’s Fair Collection, became important resources for researchers. Microfilming in the 1940s not only supplemented the Library’s strong holdings in family history materials, but also preserved vital public documents. In the 21st century, Library of Virginia staff members have tackled born-digital materials, leading the way in archiving records such as governors’ emails.
The Library’s 2012–2017 Strategic Plan recognized that our story is continually evolving. It began early in the 19th century and will go on long after we're gone. The opportunity that our plan highlighted then continues to resonate today.
That plan identified four strategic outcomes: to strengthen our collections and access to them, to advocate for sound and open government record keeping on behalf of the citizens of Virginia, to inspire citizen learning and engagement with Virginia’s history and culture, and to create a nimble organizational structure that would be the key to our success. Our achievements in the five years since that plan’s inception are many and they have moved us along toward our goals.
- Reconceived customer service and physical spaces with the guiding principles of “the right things in the right places” and “service where you need it.”
- Embarked on replacing the systems and technologies that manage and provide access to our collections.
- Expanded user engagement with the collections through our Making History: Transcribe project; our web-based newspaper repository, Virginia Chronicle; our social media outlets; and with programming that encourages visitors to think of our collections in creative ways.
- Established the Library of Virginia as a national leader in digital archiving by making the email records of Governor Tim Kaine’s administration available to the public, and by pioneering the use of assistive technologies to revolutionize the processing of electronic records in partnership with the University of Waterloo.
- Began working toward a more aligned, consistent marketing strategy, rather than solely public relations.
- Ensured that staff members take seriously the need to communicate with each other, to challenge assumptions that could lead to stagnation, and to embrace opportunities for growth and advancement.
With these successes come new and exciting challenges. As we anticipate our 200th anniversary in 2023, we can look back on our years of expansion and adaptation and feel pride in the collections entrusted to our care. We will also strive toward a future vision for the next 200 years and ask ourselves what materials will help us tell the stories of a new Virginia, where one in eight residents was born outside the United States. How do we connect new Virginians to the collections of an old state and invite them to shape its future?
The Changing Face of Virginia
- One in eight Virginia residents is an immigrant.
- One in eleven Virginians is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.
- One in six workers in Virginia is an immigrant.
- By 2040, Virginia’s population under age 30 is projected to be majority minority.
The Library of Virginia belongs to the Virginia of today and the Virginia of the future. We must respond to the changes in who and what define our commonwealth and help the people of Virginia contextualize their lives today with the lives of those from the past. Regardless of the changes and challenges we face—now and in the years to come—the Library of Virginia remains the library and archives of the people of Virginia, and the key to greater understanding and empowerment among all citizens.
We will accomplish this vision guided by a 2018–2023 Strategic Plan that plan celebrates the cornerstone of the Library—the collections—and pushes us to build upon our long-standing traditions of free public access to those collections and outreach programming that connects Virginians to their past and to each other.
OUR THREE KEY FOCUS AREAS ARE:
Proactively build the preeminent collections of the new Virginia, allying with community partners to reflect the demographic and cultural breadth of the commonwealth
Reimagine access as any process or service that makes collection access flexible and open, empowering citizens to engage as active participants in the future of the commonwealth
Meaningfully engage Virginians around the stories and work of the Library of Virginia through renewed outreach, varied partnerships, and broadened communication.
While each of these subjects stands on its own, the measure of our success will lie in the connections we make between them. To that end, we have identified five major initiatives to help make those connections and move the Library of Virginia toward 2023 and beyond.
Collecting the New Virginia
Create a future-focused collection policy with provisions for expanding collections in the areas of family and community history, civic life, government, and literature in Virginia, along with provisions for refining existing collections.
Plan and begin expansion and improvement of collections storage facilities at the State Records Center as part of the Library’s responsibility to ensure trustworthy and secure management of the state’s public records and cultural heritage.
Create digital resources that connect personal narratives, newspapers, and archival, photographic, geographic, and architectural materials to promote a fuller picture and greater understanding of family, community, and civic life in Virginia.
Expand public access to the electronic archival records of Virginia's government, continuing our leadership among state archives and ensuring that citizens are able to engage knowledgeably and fully as civic actors in their communities.
Continue to grow our legions of devoted volunteers for Making History: Transcribe, expanding their opportunities to enhance our digital collections and encouraging them to create their own meaning and stories from the collections while facilitating access and understanding for others.
Make civic engagement a focus of the Library of Virginia’s programming and outreach across a diverse range of opportunities.
Library as Place
Develop a comprehensive space plan for the first two floors of the Library that maximizes accessibility, visitor experience, engagement, and interaction.
Identify and implement short-term opportunities to reconfigure the Library's first and second floors in order to increase public access and provide semi-private work and study spaces for the public and staff.
Explore new ways to activate the first and second floors in order to engage the public and amplify our collections, exhibitions, and expertise.
Library Beyond Place
Leverage our overall web presence in ways that expand the discovery and use of our physical and digital collections.
Improve our resources and services to help users achieve their research, learning, and professional goals.
Fast-paced change—social, cultural, economic, technological—can overwhelm and paralyze; cultural heritage institutions can and should be wayfinders for citizens navigating frequently disruptive change. Complex times, complex conversations, rapid technological change, and information explosions all result in constant noise that can drown out civil discourse and understanding. The Library of Virginia is determined to see these challenges as opportunities to respond in a way that is relevant, brings cohesion, and enhances people’s lives.
While Virginians have always valued their history, that history has not always reflected all Virginians. It is estimated that one in every eight Virginians today is foreign-born. With changing demographics come exciting opportunities to preserve new stories of Virginians for future generations. Records that have been in the Library’s care for well over a century are yielding new insights because they are read with fresh eyes and more fully informed thinking. With these factors in mind, the Library will be an organization that reflects the changing face of Virginia and what it means to be a Virginian, becoming an organization that honors inclusion and reflects diversity in its staffing, collections, services, and programming.
To meet these challenges head on, the Library must be sure of its identity, goals, and priorities. We must tell our story in a clear and compelling way so that every Virginian understands the relevance and value of the Library to the citizens of the commonwealth. With that awareness, staff, leadership, and our boards will embrace a culture of institutional advancement, acting as active ambassadors of our mission, vision, and strategic initiatives.
The Library will also articulate development and fundraising strategies that extend our ability to make proactive decisions and maximize potential. These efforts, aligned with the focus areas and strategies laid out in this plan, will set clear and attainable goals and help to develop a broad base of support for and within the Library of Virginia.
The Library’s past, present, and future are not three separate things, but a continuum. The Library is uniquely placed to help contextualize and lead conversations that raise all citizens above the noise, toward greater participation, learning, and understanding.
The Library of Virginia will inspire learning, ignite imagination, create possibilities, encourage understanding, and engage Virginia's past to empower its future.
As the Commonwealth's library and archives, the Library of Virginia is a trusted educational institution. We acquire, preserve, and promote access to unique collections of Virginia’s history and culture and advance the development of library and records management services statewide.
Our Planning Process
When the Library and its consultant began developing a new strategic plan in the summer of 2018, we knew that inviting stakeholder participation would be crucial. In August and September, we held six focus groups across the region to gather the insights of members of the library, genealogy, civic engagement, literary, and nonprofit communities along with representatives from state and local government. The participants discussed their connections to the Library, what they love about the work we do, and the opportunities they see for improving the organization. Within the same period, staff conversations encouraged all Library employees to brainstorm about what they thought the public wanted us to keep doing, do more of, or start doing.
Once themes emerged from these initial conversations, the Library hosted a daylong charrette to seek input from a wider portion of the public. After viewing displays and listening to presentations outlining the proposed areas of strategic focus, participants provided extensive feedback that we used to refine our direction. By early November, we pulled together staff from a variety of departments in order to look at areas such as collections and access from diverse perspectives and identify key projects and initiatives. In January 2019, work sessions allowed a second group of staff members to use their knowledge and expertise to develop the supporting strategies for implementing the initiatives.
From the Library Board and the Library of Virginia Foundation Board
These are just a few of the key words that leap from the pages of the Library of Virginia’s new strategic plan. They capture the energy and excitement that we expect will infuse everything the Library does between now and 2023, when the Library marks its 200th anniversary.
The Library Board and the Library of Virginia Foundation Board are pleased to endorse this exciting plan. We stand ready to assist the management team and staff in carrying out the plan’s key initiatives. Working together, we pledge to deliver the Library’s rich historical content in innovative and meaningful ways and to offer the best possible service to all our constituencies, whether they access our collections within the Library’s walls or from the far distant corners of the state and the world.
We invite all Virginians—and friends of the Library wherever they reside—to join us on this exhilarating journey.
From the Librarian of Virginia
I am delighted to share with you the Library of Virginia’s 2018–2023 Strategic Plan.
This exciting, forward-looking document is more than the culmination of nearly a year’s work led by a determined team of staff members. It also reflects all that is best in our nearly 200-year-old institution. Our planning team challenged us to consider our origins in 1823 and our evolution to who we are today, as well as to think boldly and honestly about who we want to be. The group coached the Library and its stakeholders through activities designed to capture as many ideas and perspectives as possible, always with a nod to our legacy and eye toward the Virginia of the future. Our road map is clear and we are ready to take the journey with you.
We hope that readers will feel the energy in this plan, which includes our dedication to all citizens of the commonwealth, our passion for our mission, and our ambition to set the Library on a course for its next two centuries. By the time the Library celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2023, we will be an open, inclusive, and empowering force in the life of every Virginian. We pledge to do this by:
- building our collections to reflect Virginia’s demographic and cultural breadth
- reimagining our services to facilitate access to our people and resources
- connecting in new and meaningful ways with all Virginians, whose stories inform not only our understanding of the past but our collective future as well
We have already begun the work outlined here, and we are eager to tell you of our progress along the way. Please continue to share your thoughts, insights, and suggestions for improvement. Help us make sure that the Library has much to celebrate in 2023, as we prepare to enter our third century of service to Virginians.
Strategic Planning Team
- Vincent Brooks, Senior Local Records Archivist
- Paul Casalaspi, Director of Information Technology Services
- Sonya Coleman, Digital Engagement & Social Media Coordinator
- Kathleen Jordan, Digital Initiatives & Web Services Manager
- John Metz, Deputy of Collections & Programs
- Dale Neighbors, Visual Studies Collection Coordinator
- Meghan Townes, Visual Studies Collection Registrar
- Catherine Fitzgerald Wyatt, Education & Outreach Manager
Executive Management Team
- Sandra G. Treadway, Librarian of Virginia
- Michael Strom, State Archivist & Director Government Records Services
- Vanessa Anderson, Human Resources Manager
- Nan Carmack, Director of Library Development & Networking
- Paul Casalaspi, Director of Information Technology Services
- Gregg D. Kimball, Director of Public Services & Outreach
- John Metz, Deputy of Collections & Programs
- Connie Warne, Deputy of Administration
Library of Virginia Board
July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019
- M. David Skiles, Chair, Centreville
- K. Johnson Bowles, Vice Chair, Geneseo, NY
- Robert D. Aguirre, Harrisonburg
- The Hon. Jon Bowerbank, Lebanon
- Paul Brockwell, Jr., Richmond
- L. Preston Bryant, Jr., Richmond
- Kristin Cabral, McLean
- Mark Emblidge, Richmond
- Mohammed Esslami, Fairfax
- Robert Chambliss Light, Jr., Lynchburg
- Barbara Vines Little, Orange
- Mark Miller, Leesburg
- Shelley Murphy, Palmyra
- Blythe Ann Scott, Norfolk
- Martha J. Sims, Virginia Beach
Library of Virginia Foundation Board
July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019
- Steve Rogers, President, Richmond
- Lara Wulff, Vice President, Richmond
- Corynne Arnett, Treasurer, Richmond
- Marc Leepson, Secretary, Middleburg
- Cynthia Bailey, Richmond
- Robert Blackwood, Richmond
- Peter E. Broadbent, Jr., Richmond
- Kristin Cabral, McLean
- Heather Loftus Hicks, Keller
- Carol Hampton, Richmond
- Heath Hardage Lee, Roanoke
- Julia Marsden, Burke
- Anna M. Moser, Delaplane
- Joseph Papa, Richmond
- Patrice Owens Parker, Virginia Beach
- Blythe Ann Scott, Norfolk
- Sandra G. Treadway, Richmond
- Pia Trigiani, Richmond
- Bessida Cauthorne White, Jamaica
- W. Bruce Wingo, Richmond