Author: Friends of the Virginia Archives

News from the Friends of the Virginia State Archives

Visiting the Library of Virginia

A visit to the Library of Virginia is not as intimidating as you might think. It just takes a little extra planning for you to start your research again. There are guidelines and procedures that are different now but the wonderful staff is still there to for you. The reading rooms are open by advance appointment. During this current phase, you will be able to use the collections by appointment Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 AM– 4:00 PM. If you can’t keep your appointment or need to change it, please call the Library. They reserve the right to cancel your appointment if you don’t arrive within 30 minutes of your appointment time.

To schedule a research appointment:

  • To make a general appointment to use the Library (books and magazines, computers, microfilm), please call 692.3800.
  • To make an appointment to use original archival materials that have not been microfilm or digitized, please call Archives Reference Services at 692.3888.
  • To make an appointment to see maps, rare books, architectural drawings, photographs, or ephemera, please call Special Collections at 692.3703
  • If your call goes to voicemail, please leave a message including your name, phone number, email address, and topic of research, along with your preferred date and time for your appointment. A staff member will call you back or email you as quickly as possible.

What to expect when you get to the Library:

  • Appointments required to ensure space availability on a researcher’s preferred date
  • Signage describing coronavirus symptoms – Please do not enter the building if you feel unwell or have a fever
  • Face coverings required in the building at all times
  • Physical distancing of six feet required in all public spaces
  • Face masks and hand sanitizer available for the public
  • Frequent cleaning of restrooms and surfaces in public areas throughout the day
  • Returned books quarantined for three days before being available for use again

For additional information about what to expect on your visit, please see their COVID-19 Update: Guidelines for Researchers, which will be updated regularly. And watch the “Reopening Guidelines for Visitors” video at lva.virginia.gov/about/visit.asp.

Staff members are still available to respond to your questions and research inquiries by email or phone. For Library Reference assistance, call 804.692.3777 or email refdesk@lva.virginia.gov. For Archives Reference assistance, call 804.692.3888 or email archdesk@lva.virginia.gov.

Now that you know the procedure, schedule a date and time and come back! 

FamilySearch.org now available at the Library

The Library of Virginia is now a FamilySearch affiliate library which enables users access to their millions of records otherwise only available at LDS Church family history centers. Access is gained when using the Library’s computers or wifi.

Ancestry and Fold3 Databases

Fold3 and Ancestry are also “in Library Use Only” databases. However, free remote access to select Ancestry.com materials from the LVA collections is available to Virginia residents via Ancestry for Virginians.

“Straight to the Source” 28th Annual Program, March 20, 2020 and the annual Stratton lecture cancelled.

Both lecture series were cancelled for 2020. Virtual conferences will be planned for 2021. The Lectures scheduled for 2021 will likely all be virtual. Please stay tuned for more on the progress of these events. 

Virginia’s Vitals Records

Ancestry.com has almost finished scanning Virginia’s vital records, 1863-1912. The process should be completed in January as 99% of them are currently scanned. They will then be indexed and ready to use by the end of the summer.

2019 News

Fall Slatten Lecture Featuring Professional Genealogist and Lecturer Michael Strauss

Saturday, September 21, 2019

On September 21, Michael Strauss presented an informative and entertaining program to more than 50 attendees. His topics for this lecture included researching colonial war ancestors, ancestors during the Reconstruction era, World War I ancestors, and researching newspapers.

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Long time supporter, Virginia Refo, looking over military jacket.

About Michael Strauss: He has been an avid genealogist for more than 35 years. He holds a BA in History and is a US Coast Guard veteran, as well as a licensed private investigator and qualified expert witness on estate matters for Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia. Michael is an approved genealogist with the United States Army, locating DNA qualified persons MIA from Korea, Vietnam, and World War II.


An Improved Search Experience at the Library of Virginia coming in June: New Online Catalog System & Registration Process

On June 5, 2019, the Library of Virginia began using a new online catalog and collection discovery system meant to improve the user experience, including:

  • A more modern, intuitive, and user-friendly design, similar to other library catalogs and major online platforms;
  • Search results ranked by relevance and the ability to refine your search as you would on Amazon or other shopping sites;
  • Stronger security for account holder information; and
  • Coming soon: Search integration with the Library’s digital collections and databases.

The new system does require some changes to the registration and library card processes. All accounts must be renewed starting June 5, 2019. Please see the FAQ section below for details. Thanks for your patience while the resources are being brought into the new system and adjustments are made.

For more information, please visit the Library of Virginia Contact Us page (www.lva.virginia.gov/about/contact) and select a department or staff member to reach by email.

Frequently Asked Questions

For processes/changes from June 5, 2019, or later:

I just renewed my library card, but now my account has expired! What gives?

In order to increase security for Library card account holders’ personal information, we are changing the way we identify our patrons in the system. Accordingly, all accounts must be renewed after the changeover to the new catalog—but not before the June 5 date. The new system will require your email address as your primary identifier. You will then enter a new password of your choosing. This will allow us to communicate with you directly through email regarding your account.

What if I don’t have an email address?

Get one! Our staff would be happy to help you set up a Gmail account or another free email service. If you don’t have (or don’t want) an email address, you will need to visit the Library in person. The Circulation staff will assign a barcode as your identifier in the system.

Can I update my information and renew online?

Virginia residents can renew online. When you first access your account in the new system, you will be sent to a renewal page. In addition to your email address and new password, you’ll be asked to provide your driver’s license number in order to validate your resident status. (The Library will use your driver’s license number only for validation and will not store it in the system.)

I’m not a Virginia resident. Can I renew my card?

Unfortunately, online renewal is not available to non-Virginia residents. As a courtesy, non-Virginia residents who have recently received a card at the Library may send an email request that includes their full name and library card barcode number to refdesk@lva.virginia.gov. Within two to three business days, we will extend your card to expire on June 4, 2020. Otherwise, you can renew in-person at your next visit.

If I have a Library of Virginia library card, do I need to get a new one?

No. Once you renew, your existing library card should function as previously.

How long will my account stay current (before needing renewal)?

Your account is good for one year before you will need to renew.

What about my physical card?

Don’t throw away your card! Even if your account has expired, we can link your new account to your card. We should also be able to recover any unspent money you’ve added to it for copies and place it in your new account.

I still have questions! Whom can I contact?

Please visit our Contact Us page (www.lva.virginia.gov/about/contact) and select a department or staff member to reach by email.


Straight to the Source Celebrates 30 Years! 

On March 29, STTS hosted its annual lecture to almost 70 attendees, as well as celebrated its 30th anniversary with “Archive Cupcakes.” Topics were presented by the professional Library staff about the collections at the Library of Virginia.

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The first lecture of the morning was presented by Greg Crawford, Local Records Program Manager. His lecture focused on how to use local court records to learn about Virginia history, and in the process learning about our ancestors.

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Next was Cara Griggs, Reference Archivist, who showed us how to use post-emancipation records to reconstruct families.

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The Library of Virginia houses an amazing collection of photographs. Dana Puga, Prints and Photographs Collection Specialist,  presented “Families in Silver: Michael Miley’s Rockbridge County Photographs.” Michael Miley, born in Rockingham County, Virginia, worked as a commercial photographer after the American Civil War. His work consisted of portraiture and landscapes of the Rockbridge County area.

Great Aunt LucyJohn Deal, Historian, Public Services and Outreach, presented an overview of the new Virginia History Trails App, which virtually enhances your on-the-ground travel experience by providing you with a customized experience based on your location and personal interest.

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Some of the attendees enjoying the day.

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