The Library of Virginia Newsletter
November 2010

Kingsolver, Holton, and Nystrom Receive Literary Awards

Lee Smith at the 2010 Literary Awards

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the winners of the 13th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Winners of the Library of Virginia’s Annual Literary Awards receive a $3,500 prize and a handsome engraved crystal book.

Barbara Kingsolver won the fiction prize for The Lacuna, which the judges felt “was the achievement of a literary artist at the peak of her skills.” Kingsolver's Mexican-American protagonist encounters characters as diverse as the artist Diego Rivera, the exile Leon Trotsky, and Senator Joe McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee in places as varied as Mexico, Washington D.C., and the Appalachian Mountains.

The other finalists for the fiction prize were Ramola D for Temporary Lives: Stories, 10 short stories set in southern India and northern Virginia that portray the bleak existence and forlorn hopes of characters constrained by class and gender, and Josh Weil for The New Valley, three novellas set in contemporary Virginia that explore the loneliness of silent men coping with an agrarian world.

The judges also selected an honorable mention in this category: Basil’s Dream by Christine Hale.

The winner of the 2010 literary award for the best work of nonfiction is Woody Holton for Abigail Adams. The judges praised Holton for his lively prose that raises his biography above other books. Holton’s Abigail Adams presents new insights about her opinions of the major controversies of the revolutionary period, her effective management of the household, and her surprising talent for speculation in the bond market.

The other finalists for the nonfiction prize were David A. Taylor for Soul of a People and

Melvin I. Urofsky for Louis D. Brandeis: A Life. Taylor’s fresh and accessible book focuses on the American authors sustained by the WPA Writers’ Project of the 1930s.Urofsky’s comprehensive and authoritative biography demonstrates that Louis Brandeis and his legal reasoning still influence our republic nearly 70 years after his death.

Debra Nystrom, professor of poetry writing at the University of Virginia, received the poetry prize for Bad River Road, her third collection of verse. The judges praised Bad River Road as a searching and beautifully composed collection, notable for its ability to make private anguish communicable, while at the same time confronting pressing issues of class, race, and culture as they exist in her native South Dakota. The book understands that the emotive basics—the speaker’s relationship to her dying mother, the decline of her father's health, and the suffering of her imprisoned brother—resonate beyond the personal to the political and the universal.

The other poetry prize finalists were Fred D’Aguiar, a professor of English at Virginia Tech, for Continental Shelf and Sarah Kennedy, author of five books of poetry, for Home Remedies. D’Aguiar’s Continental Shelf is a powerful and sustained collection whose most notable feature is an elegiac sonnet sequence written in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings. Kennedy’s Home Remedies is a remarkably inventive and ambitious volume that attempts to re-envision and honor a series of previously unheard women’s voices.

The judges also selected an honorable mention in the poetry category: Illustrating the Machine that Makes the World by Joshua Poteat.

The winner of the People’s Choice Award in the fiction category is Jeannette Walls’s true-life novel, Half Broke Horses, and in the nonfiction category, Haunted Plantations of Virginia by Beth Brown. The finalists for the People’s Choice Awards are selected by a panel of independent Virginia booksellers and librarians from the list of books nominated for the Library’s Literary Awards. Winners are decided by readers voting online and in libraries.

Also honored at this year’s Literary Awards was Jacqueline Jules for Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation, which was selected as the winner of the annual Whitney and Scott Cardozo Award for Children’s Literature. The engaging picture book features children dressed in state-shaped costumes acting out a play called “Unite or Die.” The book traces the challenges and compromises that shaped the United States Constitution. In selecting this book, a juried panel reviewed 21 nominated titles from authors whose works focused on literature for children ages four through eight. Nominated titles with a publication date of 2009 were accepted from the greater mid-Atlantic region.

Henry Hart, a professor of English at the College of William and Mary, won this year’s Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry. He is the author of two books of poetry and an editor of Verse, an international poetry journal. His book James Dickey: The World as a Lie, a biography, was runner-up for the Southern Book Critics Circle Award in 2000. The Weinstein Prize, established in 2005, is awarded each year to a poet with strong connections to central Virginia. The annual prize recognizes significant recent contribution 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 2010 Library of Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award is Lee Smith. A retired professor of English at North Carolina State University, Smith is the author of numerous novels including Fair and Tender Ladies, Oral History, Saving Grace, The Last Girls, On Agate Hill, and Mrs. Darcy Meets the Blue-Eyed Stranger. A native of Grundy, Virginia, Smith attended St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from Hollins College.

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Visit Shutterfly to See Celebration Photographs

13th Annual Library of Virginia Celebration

If you attended the 13th Annual Library of Virginia Celebration, you know what a marvelous event it was. Great company, great writers, witty commentary from host Adriana Trigiani, and heartwarming acceptance speeches from this year’s honorees made the night special. Many spoke of the impact that public libraries had on their lives and of the importance of education. Lee Smith, winner of the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award, spoke of the significance of storytelling and, in the process, showed yet again why she is one of the preeminent authors of her generation. Pierre Courtois and Paige Buchbinder, the Library’s talented photographers, documented the night’s festivities.

To see the photographs from the Celebration and order prints, visit Shutterfly at

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Jan Karon to Speak at Library of Virginia on November 12

Author Jan Karon will speak at the Library of Virginia at noon on November 12 about her new book, In the Company of Others: A Father Tim Novel, as part of her nationwide book tour. Karon is the author of “The Mitford Years” and the “Father Tim” series of books. The event is Karon’s only scheduled stop in Virginia.

Space is limited for the talk and seating is on a first come, first served basis. The talk is free but tickets will be distributed on the morning of the event. You will be seated according to your ticket group. Overflow seating is provided in our conference rooms, with a direct video link. Please note: There will be signed copies of the author’s new book available for purchase at this event, but the author will not sign books. A limited number of autographed copies are available from the Virginia Shop. To pre-order your copy of In the Company of Others or Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader, visit the shop's site at

There is limited, free parking for this event in the Library’s underground deck, which is accessible from either Eighth or Ninth streets. Positive Vibe Express will be open before and after Karon’s talk, offering a wide array sandwiches, salads, and sweets.

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Five Million Images from Across Virginia Reveal Stories of Our Past: Library of Virginia Makes Goochland County Chancery Records Available Online

Goochland Clerk of Circuit Court Lee Turner (seated) navigates the digital collection as Frank Hargrove (standing), Clerk of Circuit Court in Hanover County and President of the Virginia Circuit Court Clerks' Association, and Carl Childs look on.

The Library of Virginia has completed digitizing more than five million chancery images. The milestone was reached in the scanning of the Goochland County Chancery Records from 1731 through 1913. This county’s chancery records join those from 46 other localities available online from any Internet-connected computer. Because these records rely so heavily on testimony from witnesses, they offer a unique glimpse into the lives of Virginians from the early 18th century through the years just before the First World War.

A broad spectrum of citizens—rich and poor, black and white, slave and free—appear in chancery cases. Chancery cases are a valuable source of local, state, social, and legal history and serve as a primary source for understanding a locality’s history. They show the growth of business and industry in a locality, from taverns and churches to mines and creameries.

Among the 119,000 images scanned from the Goochland chancery cases are those related to disputes over land, wills, divorces, debts, and business issues. The surnames of slaves suing for their freedom; of the descendants of the Huguenot settlers of Manakin-Towne; and of planters, millers, coal miners, church leaders, and ordinary citizens all appear in the records.

Carefully drawn plats sometimes illustrate cases involving disputed property lines and mining rights. Ornate marriage certificates and licenses accompany some divorce suits. Broadsides advertise the auction of farms and businesses, describing the land and its features or the business and its equipment.

To search the Chancery Records Index for Goochland County, visit

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Microfilm Scanners Available in the Library's West Reading Room

Through a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act, the Library of Virginia has acquired new digital microfilm scanners. The ScanPro 2000 machines are able to produce digitized images from microfilm reels and microfiche sheets. The six scanners will be available for public use in the West Reading Room microfilm area on the second floor of the Library of Virginia starting November 24.

Patrons will be able to save scanned images to a flash drive (USB, sometimes called thumb drive or memory stick) or to a CD to print later. Patrons will not be able to e-mail images from the scanners.

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Library Presents Civil War Exhibitions

The Library of Virginia is offering two exhibitions that open in December highlighting the debate leading up to Virginia’s decision to leave the Union.

Union or Secession: Virginians Decide opens December 6, 2010, and runs through October 1, 2011, at the Library of Virginia. The exhibition explores what Virginians were thinking and saying as states in the Deep South withdrew from the United States following the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860. The exhibition and accompanying Web site may surprise you.

Most people assume that Virginia's secession was a foregone conclusion. In fact, on April 4, 1861, the convention that was directed to act for the commonwealth voted down a motion to secede. Only after the surrender of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and Lincoln's call for troops did the Virginia convention approve the motion on April 17 to secede from the United States and join other Southern states in establishing the Confederate States of America.

The Struggle to Decide: Virginia’s Secession Crisis opens December 13, 2010, and runs through October 29, 2011, in the Virginia State Capitol Visitor Center. This exhibition centers on the thoughts and actions of the members of the Virginia General Assembly and the Virginia Convention of 1861. These were individuals charged with the task of deciding the fate of Virginia, and perhaps the nation.

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Coalition Holds its First Seminar on FOI, Records

Nearly 100 people attended the Virginia Coalition for Open Government’s first-ever seminar on records management and the Freedom of Information Act at the Library of Virginia in September. Attendees, who represented 48 different state and local agencies throughout the commonwealth, received tips and strategies on using effective records management to fill FOI requests in a more efficient manner. Included during the seminar was a demonstration of the Department of Transportation’s FOI tracking system. Also presenting was Craig Fifer, VCOG secretary and e-government manager for the City of Alexandria, who talked about the spirit of open government, as well as the practical side of fulfilling FOI duties. Library of Virginia records management analyst Anita Vannucci gave practical tips for records storage and retrieval. Maria Everett, director of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council, urged those attending to put themselves in the place of those requesting information and imagine being stonewalled when requesting information affecting a family member. The seminar was presented in partnership with the Library of Virginia, the Virginia Association of Counties, and the Virginia Municipal League, all of which are VCOG members.

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Firestine Wins Lewis Award

Scott Firestine

Scott Firestine, director of the Appomattox Regional Library, is the recipient of the inaugural Elizabeth M. Lewis Award, named for the former director of public library development at the Library of Virginia. Also nominated for the award were Donna Cote, director of Central Rappahannock Library, and Peggy Bias, director of the Bedford Public Library System. The winner was selected by a vote of public library directors in Virginia.

Firestine was cited for his love of libraries and ability to develop high-quality library services through:

  • Completion of the new Appomattox Regional Library building, working with the Library Board, staff, and government to accomplish this task
  • Developing plans for construction of a new library for Prince George County, working with community leaders to develop this project for a growing area of the region served by the library
  • Nurturing the ConnectSouthside network, working with ConnectRichmond staff to develop a new model for the Southside region
  • Serving on multiple Library of Virginia and Virginia Public Library Directors Association committees and work groups, including the Advisory Committee for the Gates Connectivity grant and the Find It Virginia Steering Committee
  • Assistance to the Virginia Library Association Legislative Committee to develop effective contacts with legislators within the Appomattox Regional Library service area
  • Planning quality services, including receiving one of the recent Library of Virginia Foundation mini-grants

In addition, Firestine mentors new library directors and hosts the Carson Picnic every August for the Capital Area and Tidewater Area library directors groups.

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Library Holds Wealth of Resources on Virginia's Wartime Experiences

Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day—all are commemorated on November 11. World War I—known at the time as “The Great War” —officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. Fighting ceased seven months earlier, however, when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. In 1938 Congress made the 11th of November of each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." In 1954 the law was amended by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans."

During World War I, approximately 100,000 Virginians served in the U.S. armed forces and support units, and about 3,700 Virginians lost their lives from a variety of causes during the war.

At the Library of Virginia you can find numerous print and original sources to learn more about Virginia’s participation in World War I and in all the wars in which Virginians have fought. The Library’s collections include reports, personal narratives, manuscripts, unit histories, registers, minute books, scrapbooks, diaries, photographs, club histories, and books on the subject.

For “the war to end all wars,” the Library has produced a selected bibliography, Virginia’s Participation in World War I (, which outlines some of the printed resources on the subject in the Library’s collections.

The Library also has a wealth of archival collections highlighting World War I. Among the most poignant are the records of the Virginia War History Commission Questionnaires Collection. The commission was formed in 1919 to create a full “history of Virginia’s military, economic and political participation in the World War.”

The questionnaires give glimpses of people such as the sons of J. Fred and Laura Bilisoly Niemeyer of Portsmouth, who enlisted and were shipped to France; of Dr. William Cabell Moore, who was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the Medical Reserve and ordered to active duty in 1917; of David O’Connor Murchison of Norfolk, a black man who was honored for bravery for capturing 13 German soldiers; and of Colgate Darden of Norfolk, who served as a second lieutenant in the United State Marine Corps Reserve Flying Corps and later served in the Virginia House of Delegates, in the United States House of Representatives, and as governor of Virginia.

The World War I History Commission Questionnaires Database is a fully searchable collection of more than 14,900 records, one for each questionnaire respondent, accessible by name, city/county, and race.

Among the other archival collections at the Library are the records of the American War Mothers, Richmond Chapter; the World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918: Virginia; the WPA Life Histories Collection, 1938–1941; and the Virginia War History Commission (

The Library also has created the Virginia Military Dead Database to honor those Virginians who have given their lives in defense of freedom. The database pulls together information from a wide variety of sources to make it more accessible. The database currently contains information on approximately 45,070 Virginia men and women who died in service to their country. To search the database, go to

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All the Broken Pieces Wins 2010 Jefferson Cup

The 2010 Jefferson Cup Award Winner is All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg. The Jefferson Cup honors a distinguished biography, historical fiction, or American history book for young people. Presented since 1983, the Virginia Library Association’s Jefferson Cup Award promotes reading about America's past; encourages the quality writing of United States history, biography, and historical fiction for young people; and recognizes authors in these disciplines.

All the Broken Pieces tells the story of Matt Pin, the son of an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman. Pin was airlifted out of Vietnam to safety near the chaotic end of the Vietnam War. Adopted by a loving family, Pin struggles with worry and guilt about the family he left behind while seeming to adapt to his new family. He stars on his school baseball team but must endure prejudice and hostility from those who see in his face the picture of those who killed their loved ones during the Vietnam War.

All the Broken Pieces is a touching and effective story told in verse. The judges agreed that Ann E. Burg’s first novel for young adults is a compelling work of historical fiction. Beautifully and powerfully told, Burg’s story brings to life the experiences of children who are often overlooked in remembrances of the Vietnam War.

The Jefferson Cup Committee selects the winning title. The committee has nine members: a chairperson (selected by the previous year's committee), one person from each of VLA's six regions selected by the current chair, the chair of the previous year’s Jefferson Cup Committee, and the outgoing chairperson of the Youth Services Forum. All committee members must be members of VLA.

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