The Library of Virginia Newsletter
January 2009

Budget Shortfall Increases as Revenues Decline

As a result of the state's budget deficit, several bills that would increase state spending were "laid on the table" (one of many methods of killing a bill without killing it) in subcommittee or full committee. The message is clear-any proposal that increases the state's costs will have a tough time this year. The state's revenue picture continues to deteriorate with declines in corporate, withholding, and sales taxes. The deficit is expected to grow by several hundred million dollars by the end of February. One of Governor Kaine's proposals to shrink the shortfall, an increase in the cigarette tax, has been rejected by a House subcommittee. The proposed tax increase was to have generated $148 million to cover Medicaid costs. Virginia faces a $2.9 billion shortfall in Medicaid funding.

On February 8 (the deadline for the money committees to complete work on the Budget Bill), it is expected that the House Appropriations Committee will propose to lower the current budget by $4 billion and the Senate Finance Committee will propose to lower it by $3.2 billion, which is the current revenue loss estimate.

Until both houses of the Assembly finalize their budget bills, it is impossible to know what impact, if any, their amendments to the governor's budget will have on libraries or the Library of Virginia.

Library Supports Reading Initiative

When elementary and middle school students receive their 2010 Standards of Learning (SOL) test reports next spring and summer, their reading scores will be accompanied by a corresponding "Lexile measure." A Lexile measure ranks reading ability and text difficulty on a single scale, allowing parents-and teachers-to select books at or slightly above a student's reading level. Currently, more than 115,000 books have been assigned a Lexile measure.

The Library of Virginia is assisting libraries in this effort to promote reading and improve students' reading scores by supporting the Department of Education's Lexile Project. This support includes creating a booklist to help librarians easily locate quality books within a student's Lexile reading level. The Library will offer reimbursement of registration costs to 12 librarians who complete the American Library Association's online class "Reading Instruction and Children's Books" and share class information with at least two other library systems.

Library Launches New Web Sites

The amount of Web-based information related to the Library's collections and services has grown exponentially over the past several years. As users-whether the public, government employees, or educators-increasingly look online to do their research, find necessary forms, and learn about Virginia history and culture, it has become clear that the Library's current Web site can no longer accommodate the amount of new material that we continually add.

As part of our quest to deliver information about our services and collections more effectively, our Web site has undergone a lengthy analysis with an eye toward improved access for the many constituencies we serve. Armed with this understanding the Library began development of not one, but two sites. Both are designed to bring greater visibility to the Library's collection-based content, as well as the services we provide. The new agency site is organized with sections for the public, government employees, librarians, and educators. Our newest site, Virginia Memory (, encourages users to explore our digital collections regardless of how they are used or presented.

We invite you to try out our new Web sites as we complete work on them and to give us your feedback. There may be a few little glitches (we're still working on it!), so please let us know if you run into any problems. We appreciate your patience during this period. The information you provide will help us create a better Web experience.

2009 African American Trailblazers Honored with Poster, Exhibition, and Ceremony

In observance of African American History Month, the Library of Virginia, in partnership with Capital One Financial Corporation, is pleased to honor eight distinguished Virginians as African American Trailblazers in Virginia for their contributions to the state and nation. The men and women featured as Trailblazers 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, advocacy, entertainment, or armed rebellion, these individuals demonstrate how African Americans have actively campaigned for better lives for themselves and their people. It is these many contributions that the African American Trailblazers program seeks to share.

For 2009, the African American Trailblazers in Virginia are:

  • Dangerfield Newby (1820-1859), Culpeper Co., member of John Brown's raiding party
  • Amaza Lee Meredith (1895-1984), Lynchburg and Petersburg, architect
  • Oliver White Hill (1907-2007), Richmond, attorney and civil rights leader
  • Edna Lewis (1916-2006), Orange Co., chef and author
  • Evelyn Thomas Butts (1924-1993), Norfolk, principal in case to invalidate the poll tax
  • Claudia Alexander Whitworth (born 1927), Roanoke, newspaper publisher and humanitarian
  • John Cephas (born 1930), Caroline Co., bluesman and international performer
  • Leland Melvin (born 1964), Lynchburg, astronaut
Biographies of the honorees will be featured in an exhibition on display at the Library in February; on a poster that has been sent to schools, libraries, and museums across Virginia; and included on an educational Web site for teachers and students. To learn more about these individuals and to explore educational resources about their lives, visit our Web site at
The 2009 honorees also will be celebrated at an awards ceremony hosted by the Library on February 26. Seating is limited, so please call 804-692-3900 for reservations.

LVA on YouTube

The World Wide Web's evolution from a text-heavy medium into a multimedia platform that embraces moving images and sound is clearly showcased by the popularity of YouTube. What energized teenagers and casual Web users-the ability to provide on-demand video to a wide audience for very little cost-undoubtedly appeals to government offices working within limited budgets. Early in 2008 the Commonwealth of Virginia negotiated with YouTube (the video-sharing Web site where users can upload, view, and share video clips) to create the first unified state government YouTube channel. The Library of Virginia was one of several state agencies and localities invited to participate under the state's "parent" channel

In response to that invitation, the Library is creating and uploading content that both highlights and supports our collections and activities. So far the footage includes clips of governors' inaugurations, Virginia musical artists, political campaign videos, summer reading program promotional videos, and two documentaries. In addition to promoting the collections and activities of the Library, some of the videos will directly support educational programs and initiatives that reach out to students and teachers alike.

Being part of a larger group has its advantages. As a YouTube "power user," government offices in Virginia are permitted to upload longer videos and to add content more frequently. Even though agencies and localities are under the umbrella of the state's channel, each member is allowed to create its own channel complete with banners and text that inform users of the video's originating location. With that in mind, the Library designed banners and logos that clearly identify the source of the videos. To check out the YouTube site and see all of the videos, surf over to

Deadline to Nominate Books is February 13

The deadline to nominate books for the Library of Virginia's annual literary awards is February 13. 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 for the 2009 awards must have been published and distributed between January 1 and December 31, 2008. Entries can be submitted for the following categories: fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Entry forms can be submitted online at or completed as an interactive PDF document and mailed to: The Library of Virginia Literary Awards, 800 East Broad St., Richmond, Virginia, 23219-8000.

2009 Symposium Explores "Generals Behaving Badly"

The Museum of the Confederacy's 2009 Symposium, "General Behaving Badly," cosponsored and hosted by the Library of Virginia, will be held on Saturday, February 21, 2009, in the Lecture Hall of the Library from 9:30 AM to 4 PM. The cost is $35 for members of the Museum of the Confederacy and Library of Virginia donors, and $50 for others. The fee includes a box lunch. Seating is limited and reservations and advanced payment are required. Library donors should call 804-649-1861, ext. 32, to register with Linda Lipscomb of the MOC to receive the discounted fee.

The symposium will offer vignettes and appraisals of both Confederate and Federal "Generals Behaving Badly." The lectures will probe the life stories of fascinating characters and assess how their cantankerous, eccentric, or insubordinate behavior affected their performance as military commanders.

Hunter Lesser will talk about the tempestuous and troublesome relationship between generals and former Virginia governors Henry A. Wise and John B. Floyd during the 1861 western Virginia campaign. John V. Quarstein will compare Benjamin F. "Beast" Butler and "Prince John" Magruder. Robert K. Krick will explore the life and career of Brig. Gen. William Barksdale, of Mississippi. Edwin C. Bearss will concentrate his attention on Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles, USA, and Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn, CSA.