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Library of Virginia Celebrates Bicentennial with Yearlong Series of Events

The celebration begins this Tuesday with 200 YEARS, 200 STORIES.

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The Library of Virginia is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2023 with a yearlong series of events and programs, including an anniversary exhibition and multimedia experience, a panel discussion highlighting Virginia’s first Black legislators, the launch of mobile programming across the state, and more.

The Library was founded on Jan. 24, 1823, by the General Assembly to organize, care for and manage the state’s growing collection of books and official records. Since then, the collection has grown to 2 million books, newspapers, maps, prints and photographs, as well as 130 million manuscript items, making the Library the most comprehensive resource in the world for the study of Virginia history, culture and government.

“It’s exciting to celebrate this milestone as one of the oldest state libraries and archives in the nation,” said Librarian of Virginia Sandra Treadway. “We invite the community to join us at the various activities planned to mark our rich history and hope all Virginians will discover ways to be more engaged with us as we enter our third century.”

The schedule of anniversary events follows. All events are free and open to the public (except for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration, its annual fundraising gala, on Oct. 14, 2023). Learn more at www.lva.virginia.gov/200.

Tuesday, Jan. 24 – Oct. 28, 2023 | Exhibition Gallery & Lobby

200 YEARS, 200 STORIES: AN EXHIBITION

This exhibition and multimedia experience celebrates 200 Virginians whose fascinating narratives can be found in the Library’s records, images and artifacts. Rather than a Top Ten or a Who’s Who, the exhibition presents captivating stories of Virginians of all stripes: heroes and villains, the famous and infamous, the powerful and the powerless—reflecting the sweep of Virginians’ experiences.

Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 | 12:00–1:00 p.m. | Conference Rooms | Learn more and register

200TH ANNIVERSARY LECTURE

The Origins of the Library of Virginia’s Book Collections

The Library of Virginia was founded by the General Assembly on Jan. 24, 1823, to organize, care for and manage the state’s growing collection of books and official records, many of which date back to the early colonial period. Join us on this momentous anniversary date for a talk by historian and author Brent Tarter on the origins of the Library’s book collections. A few books from the Library’s earliest days will be on display and our new exhibition, 200 Years, 200 Stories, will be open for viewing.

Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023 | 6:00–7:30 p.m. | Lecture Hall & Lobby | Learn more and register

BLACK HISTORY MONTH PANEL DISCUSSION

The First Civil Rights: Black Political Activism After Claiming Freedom

Join the Library of Virginia and Virginia Humanities to celebrate the completion of a signature project to document the lives and achievements of Virginia’s first Black legislators. Editors of the Library’s Dictionary of Virginia Biography joined this project in 2011 in collaboration with the commonwealth’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission to research and write the definitive life histories of the 92 African American men who served in the General Assembly from 1869 to 1890. Their stories are now part of the collective digital story of our state thanks to the collaboration with Encyclopedia Virginia, a rich online resource sponsored by Virginia Humanities. Panelists for the program, moderated by Virginia Humanities executive director Matthew Gibson, will include the Honorable Viola Baskerville, one of the founders of the project; University of Richmond professor Lauranett Lee; Ajena Rodgers, supervisory park ranger at the National Park Service’s Maggie L. Walker Historic Site and a descendant of Black legislator James A. Fields; and historian and author Brent Tarter, a retired editor with the Library of Virginia. For more information, contact Elizabeth Klaczynski at 804.692.3536 or [email protected].

Friday, March 3, 2023 | 5:00–8:00 p.m. | Lobby & Conference Rooms

FIRST FRIDAYS AT LVA

Collections Show & Tell

Venture east from Richmond’s Arts District for quarterly First Fridays at the Library of Virginia! Join us to enjoy refreshments and view an art exhibition by Virginia artists as well as our 200 Years, 200 Stories exhibition; listen to open mic poetry, prose or music; and take part in a “creation station.” March’s theme is Collections Show and Tell. Learn about archival preservation—you can bring in your own items for evaluation and conservation recommendations—and see displays of Library items to spark ideas for creating something with your own collections.

Saturday, March 25, 2023 |10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Suffolk Public Library | 443 W. Washington St., Suffolk, VA 23434

LVA On the Go at Suffolk Public Library

LVA On the Go, a custom-made vehicle equipped with state-of-the-art technology, will bring the Library’s programs, workshops, digital resources, staff expertise and more to the Suffolk Public Library. This is the first of more than 16 visits scheduled for regions across the commonwealth to connect and engage with the community. Activities include genealogy assistance, oral history recording, children’s crafts and more. Find the full schedule of visits at www.lva.virginia.gov/200.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Lecture Hall | Free

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH PANEL DISCUSSION

A Woman’s Place is in the House…of Delegates

In 1923 the first women won election to the Virginia House of Delegates. In the century since then, 109 women have served in the House, with a record number of 36 women in 2023. Virginia has often lagged the nation in the percentage of women in its governing bodies. How have women battled Virginia’s “old boys’ network” and pushed through barriers to take their place in the halls of power? Join the Library of Virginia in celebrating a century of Women in the House. A group of House members will discuss the challenges, opportunities and changes they have experienced in Capitol Square.

Friday, June 2, 2023 | 5:00–8:00 p.m. | Lobby & Conference Rooms

FIRST FRIDAYS AT LVA

Maps: Your Place in Virginia

Venture east from Richmond’s Arts District for quarterly First Fridays at the Library of Virginia! Join us to enjoy refreshments and view an art exhibition by Virginia artists as well as our 200 Years, 200 Stories exhibition; listen to open mic poetry, prose or music; and take part in a “creation station.” June’s theme is Maps: Your Place in Virginia. Make your own map listing places lived in Virginia, your path to the commonwealth or your favorite locale.

July 7 & 8, 2023 | Lobby

Virginia Folklife Celebration

A two-day Folklife Festival, in partnership with the Virginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities, will feature programs and performances with some of the finest traditional musicians and craftspeople in the commonwealth.

Friday, Aug. 4, 2023 | 5:00–8:00 p.m. | Lobby & Conference Rooms

 

FIRST FRIDAYS AT LVA

Your Virginia Story

Venture east from Richmond’s Arts District for quarterly First Fridays at the Library of Virginia! Join us to enjoy refreshments and view an art exhibition by Virginia artists as well as our 200 Years, 200 Stories exhibition; listen to open mic poetry, prose or music; and take part in a “creation station.” August’s theme is Your Virginia Story. Use prompts and hashtags to record your own story.

Oct. 9–14, 2023

Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration Events

Over the past 25 years, the annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards have become the commonwealth’s premier celebration honoring Virginia writers and their contributions to literature. Award categories are nonfiction, fiction and poetry; People’s Choice Awards for fiction and nonfiction; and Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award. Our special 2023 edition will celebrate past award finalists and winners in a weeklong series of events. Mark your calendars now for a week of events culminating in our Oct. 14 Literary Awards Celebration, and help us wrap up our anniversary year in style.

Coming in Fall 2023 | Lobby

Exploring 200 Years of Virginia Food & Wine

Watch for more information coming soon!

Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 | 5:00–8:00 p.m. | Lobby & Conference Rooms

FIRST FRIDAYS AT LVA

Capture Your Traditions

Venture east from Richmond’s Arts District for quarterly First Fridays at the Library of Virginia! Join us to enjoy refreshments and view an art exhibition by Virginia artists as well as our 200 Years, 200 Stories exhibition; listen to open mic poetry, prose or music; and take part in a “creation station.” December’s theme is Capture Your Traditions. View cookbooks, scrapbooks and music ephemera from the Library’s collections and create your own mini-book.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.