The Library of Virginia Newsletter
November 2015

Weil, Schulte, and Scafidi Receive 2015 Literary Awards

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the winners of the 18th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards, sponsored by Dominion. The October 17 awards celebration was hosted by award-winning Virginia author Adriana Trigiani. Awards categories were fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and literary lifetime achievement. Winners of the Library of Virginia's Annual Literary Awards receive a $2,500 prize and an engraved crystal book.

Josh Weil is the recipient of the 2015 Literary Award for Fiction for The Great Glass Sea, which the judges felt was ambitious, sprawling, and lyrical. A novel about sibling love and rivalry as well as hubris, Weil's emotional tale weaves folklore with the future in an entirely believable fashion.

A New York Times Editor's Choice, The Great Glass Sea won the GrubStreet National Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction's Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, and was selected for Powell's Book’s IndieSpensible program. Weil's 2009 book The New Valley (also a New York Times Editor's Choice) won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New Writers Award from the GLCA (Great Lakes College Association), and a '5 Under 35" Award from the National Book Foundation. Born in the Appalachian mountains of Southwest Virginia, Weil currently lives with his family in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

The other finalists for the fiction prize were A Kind of Dream: Stories by Kelly Cherry and What Is Visible by Kimberly Elkins. A Kind of Dream is a beautiful, imaginative novel-in-stories that explores a wide range of emotions—from despair to ecstasy—in the context of family, relationships, and creativity. What Is Visible re-imagines historical people and events in a fully realized fiction tale. Elkins brings her characters alive on the page in a way our history books never can, by finding their souls.

The winner of the 2015 Literary Award for Nonfiction is Brigid Schulte for Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Deeply researched, Overwhelmed explains, with candor and occasional hilarity, how time pressure and stress are reshaping our brains, our workplaces, our relationships—and denying us those elusive moments of leisure that the ancient Greeks celebrated as the point of living a good life.

Schulte was an award-winning journalist for the Washington Post and the Washington Post Magazine and part of the team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. She now serves as the founding director of the Good Life Initiative at the nonpartisan think tank New America and director of the Breadwinning and Caregiving program, both of which seek to elevate the conversation, explore transformative solutions, and highlight how work-life issues are the key to excellence, productivity, and innovation, as well as a full, authentic, and meaningful life. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband and their two children. She grew up in Portland, Oregon, and spent her summers with family in Wyoming, where she did not feel overwhelmed.

The other nonfiction finalists were Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times by Andrew Kaufman and The Road to Black Ned’s Forge: A Story of Race, Sex, and Trade on the Colonial American Frontier by Turk McClesky. Give War and Peace a Chance celebrates the novel hailed as one of the greatest ever written, but a book whose 1,500-page length makes it one of the most intimidating. Kaufman's guide to the setting, characters, and background of the epic novel—skillfully interwoven with events in Tolstoy’s life—presents an entertaining and thought-provoking case for why War and Peace is more relevant than ever. The Road to Black Ned’s Forge tells the remarkable story of Edward Tarr, the first free-black landowner west of the Blue Ridge. It unlocks a new and complex understanding of race relations on the American frontier. McClesky radically rewrites the history of America’s 18th-century backcountry as a world of close-knit, rigorously governed communities.

Steve Scafidi, a carpenter who has taught most recently in the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University, is the winner of the 2015 Literary Award for Poetry for The Cabinetmaker’s Window. In visceral language inspired by his own work as a cabinetmaker, Scafidi’s poems display both the tenuous and the everlasting nature of existence—whether the dissolution of a household, the fragility of shelter, or the rediscovery of new life coming from the old—with a breadth of language that transcends walnut boards, oak spindles, and the sharpening of chisels.

Scafidi is also the author of Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer, For Love of Common Words, To the Bramble and the Briar, and a chapbook, Songs for the Carry-On. He has won the Larry Levis Reading Prize, the James Boatwright Prize, and the Miller Williams Prize. He works as a cabinetmaker and lives with his family in Summit Point, West Virginia.

The other finalists for the poetry prize were Spans: New and Selected Poems by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan and Sweet Husk by Corrie Williamson. Spans, Morgan's collection of new and selected poems, is written with mastery, wit, and a touch of melancholy. The poems reveal poignant complexities in events as seemingly predictable as the changing of the seasons or a visit to an art museum. The arresting poems in Sweet Husk, the debut collection by Corrie Williamson, depict worlds within worlds from multiple perspectives—the anthropologist of imagination, archeologist of the heart, and the observant naturalist for whom a husk may seem empty but whose husking can reveal essential things.

The judges also selected an honorable mention in the poetry category: What the Neighbors Know by Melanie McCabe.

The winners of the People's Choice Awards are The Good, The Bad, and the Emus by Donna Andrews in the fiction category and Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town by Beth Macy in the nonfiction category. The finalists for the People's Choice Awards are selected by a panel of independent Virginia booksellers and librarians. Winners are decided by readers voting online. Winners of the People's Choice awards receive $2,500 and an engraved crystal book.

Also honored at this year's Literary Awards as the winner of the Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award was Lisette’s List by New York Times best-selling author Susan Vreeland. The Art in Literature prize is awarded jointly by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Joshua Poteat was the recipient of the 2015 Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, which is awarded each year to a poet with strong connections to Virginia. The $10,000 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.

The recipient of the 2015 Library of Virginia Literary Lifetime Achievement Award is Albemarle County resident Jan Karon, author of the best-selling series of ten Mitford novels featuring Father Timothy Kavanagh, an Episcopal priest, and the fictional village of Mitford.

Next year's Literary Awards Celebration will be held on October 15, 2016.

<< back to e-newsletter

Library Adds Latrobe Exhibition to Google Cultural Institute

The Library of Virginia's Manuscript and Special Collections holds a two-volume sketchbook by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe entitled Essay on Landscape. The two volumes, completed between 1798 and 1799, contain numerous entries about Latrobe’s travels as well as watercolor and pen-and-ink sketches on more than 150 pages. These sketchbooks were presented to Virginia governor Alexander Spotswood’s great-granddaughter, Susan Catherine Spotswood, who studied drawing and watercolor painting with Latrobe. Already a noted architect by 1798, Latrobe designed the Richmond State Petitionary and several private homes in Virginia during the same two-year period. He was also given the job of completing the design and the resulting rebuild of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., following the War of 1812.

These two diverse sketchbooks inspired the Library’s latest Google Cultural Institute (GCI) exhibition, Representation of the Beauty of Nature. The digital exhibition contains three sections: European landscape, Virginia’s natural beauty, and landscape inhabitants. Curated by Jim Greve and Mary Kate du Laney, the exhibition details the waterways and natural beauty of Virginia with images from the sketchbooks. The link to the Latrobe exhibition is

From an early age, Latrobe's one constant activity was drawing natural scenes and architectural structures with a correctness of eye, a strong sense of force, and facility of delineation. He was particularly fond of the James River, sketching its banks often within these pages. A naturalist who studied water, rock formation, vegetation, and architecture in a variety of Virginia and European settings, Latrobe produced vibrant watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations, which are complemented by lengthy and engaging descriptions.

—submitted by Audrey McElhinney, Collections Access and Management Services

<< back to e-newsletter

Outstanding African American Information Professional Award Goes to Wayne Crocker

At the 2015 Conference on Diversity and Inclusion in Library and Information Science (CIDLIS), the James A. Partridge Outstanding African American Information Professional Award, presented jointly by the Citizens for Maryland Libraries and the Maryland College of Information Studies, was awarded to Wayne Crocker, the director of the Petersburg Public Library System. Crocker is a graduate of Virginia State University, holds an MLS earned at Atlanta University, and has been a librarian for 36 years, almost all at Petersburg Library, the same library where he began as a page.

Crocker was the unanimous selection of the Partridge Award committee this year. His dedication and community activism in his 35 years as director of the Petersburg Public Library System embody the ideals of James A. Partridge and the award named in his honor.

The nomination materials submitted for Crocker highlighted myriad accomplishments, but one particular achievement stands out. Quite literally, his signature accomplishment stands at 201 West Washington Street, Petersburg, Virginia—a striking structure of brick and glass, a 45,000-square-foot hub for the Petersburg community and the first LEED-certified building in the city. After nearly 15 years of fundraising and organizing by Crocker, the new Petersburg Public Library opened in 2014, replacing the 1885 residence that had been the library’s home.

Robert Walker, Foundation Board chair, said, "Wayne provided a vision and leadership to see this project through. His perseverance and dream made this library happen." The American Public Works Association (APWA) Mid-Atlantic Chapter selected the Petersburg Library for the Public Works Project of the Year (for structures, $5–$25 million dollars), and the library has been nominated for a national APWA Public Works Project of the Year Award.

The Outstanding African American Information Professional Award was established jointly in 1998 by Citizens for Maryland Libraries, a statewide organization of library friends and supporters who promote excellent library services for all Marylanders, and the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. The award honors African American information professionals whose vital contributions are often behind the scenes or are cross-cutting in some sense and, thus, are not publicly recognized—unsung heroes.

James Partridge, then director of the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, was the first recipient of the award. He was a true advocate for the right of all people to read and to learn. His lifelong dedication was without accolades and the deserved level of recognition. Partridge died soon after receiving the honor, and the award was named in his memory.

Like James Partridge, nominees must exemplify the highest ideals of the library/information profession, including career-long dedicated service, leadership, and a commitment to the empowerment of those whom they serve.

Crocker joins an illustrious list of recipients of this award from across the nation. The James A. Partridge Outstanding African American Information Professional Award is presented annually at the Conference on Diversity and Inclusion in Library and information Science.

<< back to e-newsletter

To Be Sold Symposium Videos Available on YouTube

On Saturday, March 21, 2015, the Library of Virginia and the Historic New Orleans Collection cohosted a one-day, two-city symposium, To Be Sold: The American Slave Trade from Virginia to New Orleans. The sold-out symposium complemented the Library’s groundbreaking exhibition To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade.

Morning sessions were held at the Library of Virginia, and the afternoon sessions were at the Historic New Orleans Collection. Funding for the symposium was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Kevin Heraldo, of the University of Richmond, edited the videos, which are available at

<< back to e-newsletter

First Freedom Exhibition to Open in April 2016

In April the Library of Virginia will present First Freedom: Virginia's Statute for Religious Freedom, an exhibition centering on one of the most revolutionary pieces of legislation in American history —the Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. Commonly known as the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the act is celebrated as the bellwether of religious freedom in America. Next year marks the 230th anniversary of the passage of the statute by the Virginia General Assembly.

Written by Thomas Jefferson, the statute was first introduced in the General Assembly on June 12, 1779, but failed to pass. James Madison took up the cause and engineered its passage on January 16, 1789. Madison continued to champion a broad interpretation of religious freedom throughout his life. Jefferson listed his authorship of the statute as one of the three achievements for which he wished to be remembered.

The Act for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia established the separation of church and state and contains a powerful affirmation of freedom of conscience. One of the most eloquent statements of religious freedom ever written, the statute influenced both the drafting of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the United States Supreme Court's understanding of religious freedom. Today, the concept of religious freedom and the continuing debate about the relationship of church and state still resonate.

First Freedom: Virginia's Statute for Religious Freedom runs April 18, 2016–March 2, 2017.

—submitted by Barbara Batson, Public Services and Outreach

<< back to e-newsletter

Photographs from Library of Virginia’s Literary Awards Available Online

Whether you attended the fabulous 2015 Literary Awards Celebration or missed it because you had an unavoidable conflict, you can now check out photographs from the event by Pierre Courtois and Paige Buchbinder, Library of Virginia photographers. The photographs capture images of many of Virginia's outstanding authors and members of the state’s vast community of readers and supporters of all things literature. To access the photographs, visit

<< back to e-newsletter

Paula Alston Receives 2015 Libby M. Lewis Award

Virginia's public library directors have awarded Paula Alston, director of the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library, the 2015 Elizabeth M. "Libby" Lewis Award, named for the former director of public library development at the Library of Virginia. Also nominated for the award were Bess Haile, director of the Essex Library; Wayne Crocker, director of the Petersburg Public Library; and Diane Atkins, director of the Pittsylvania Public Library.

The annual award is given to the Virginia library director who most embodies the qualities of enthusiasm, nurturing spirit, and love of libraries. The award was presented at the recent annual meeting of the Virginia Library Association in Richmond.

Alston was recognized as being a leader in the same mold as Libby Lewis. In nominating Alston, Diane Atkins, director of the Pittsylvania Public Library, wrote "Paula finds what is good, and builds upon it. Her generosity of spirit means that many directors, especially new ones, rely on her guidance. She’s the policy queen—if you need a policy for a new situation, Paula has already addressed it and has developed what you need. She makes everyone feel as if any situation can be managed. She gives newer directors faith in themselves." Atkins also praised Alston for her warmth, sense of humor, encouragement, and generosity with her time.

<< back to e-newsletter

Nominations Sought for Representative Women of Achievement for Wall of Honor

The Virginia Women’s Monument, Voices from the Garden, will be the first monument of its kind in the nation recognizing the full range of women's achievements. The monument will be erected on the west side of the Capitol Square grounds in Richmond. Voices is designed as an oval-shaped garden encompassing 12 bronze statues of significant women from across the state representing four centuries of Virginia history. A glass panel etched with the names of other noteworthy Virginia women will enclose one side of the monument, while a bench listing milestones in Virginia women's history will make up the other side.

The Virginia Women's Monument Commission is seeking nominations of women from across the commonwealth who warrant having their names inscribed on the Wall of Honor. Nominees must no longer be living and have died at least ten years prior to consideration. A nominee must have been a native Virginian (or have lived a great portion of her life in the state), must be known and recognized as a Virginian, or must have achieved or contributed in a significant manner while living in Virginia. She must have demonstrated notable achievement, made a significant contribution, or set an important example within her chosen field of endeavor or within her region, the state, or at the national level.

The names inscribed on the wall will not form a comprehensive list of Virginia's most notable women, but rather offer a representative and inspiring sample of women of achievement and contribution. To nominate a Virginia woman for inclusion on the Wall of Honor, see

The Virginia General Assembly established the Women's Monument Commission in 2010 to "determine and recommend … an appropriate monument in Capitol Square to commemorate the contributions of the women of Virginia." In 2013 the commission announced the winning design and, in keeping with its charge to secure non-taxpayer, private funding sources, began fundraising efforts for the monument. Donations designated for the Virginia Women's Monument may be made to the Virginia Capitol Foundation, the nonprofit partner for fundraising for the monument. To donate, go to

<< back to e-newsletter

Library Mourns the Passing of Board Chair Ernestine Middleton

Ernestine Middleton, of Virginia Beach, chair of the Library Board, died October 30 after a brief illness. Middleton, who was appointed to the board in 2011 by Governor Robert F. McDonnell, received her bachelor's degree from James Madison University and her master's degree from the College of William and Mary. A retired librarian who worked in the Virginia Beach School System, she was also a committed community volunteer. She was the widow of former Delegate Beverly Randolph Middleton. She is survived by her children, John Middleton and his wife Judy, Barry Knight and his wife Paula, Shannon Knight, Wayne Middleton and his wife Cindy, Beverly Hathaway and her husband John, and Terry Burton and her husband Billy, as well as nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her daughter Gale Knight Dunlap.

Middleton was a passionate advocate of education, public libraries, and the arts. She loved reading, traveling, and civic and religious service. "The Library of Virginia Board will miss Ernestine's deep knowledge of public libraries and her insightful problem-solving," said Librarian of Virginia Sandra G. Treadway. "She was an accomplished public servant who throughout her life gave willingly of her time and expertise to further the common good."

She was a member of the boards of the Virginia Beach Historical Society of Princess Anne County and the Virginia Beach Public Library Board and was a former member of the Board of Directors of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads. Middleton served on the Virginia Symphony Board of Directors from approximately 1979 until 1984 and was the recipient of the distinguished service award from the Virginia Alliance of Arts Education.

<< back to e-newsletter