History of the Library

The Library of Virginia was created by the General Assembly in 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. The Library occupied rooms on the third floor of the Capitol in Richmond until 1895, when Virginia erected a new Library and office building on the eastern side of Capitol Square. Outgrowing this location, the Library in 1940 moved to a handsome, new art-deco building on Capitol Street, adjacent to City Hall and the Executive Mansion. In 1997, the Library opened to the public at 800 East Broad Street, its fourth home since its founding.

The Library houses the most comprehensive collection of materials on Virginia government, history, and culture available anywhere. The collections illustrate the rich and varied past of the commonwealth, documenting the lives of Virginians whose deeds are known to all, as well as those of ordinary citizens whose accomplishments are the foundation of our heritage.The Library’s printed, manuscript, map, and photographic collections attract researchers from across the country and the world, while the Library’s Web sites provide collection-based content and access to our digital collections to those at great distances who are not able to travel to Richmond. In addition to managing and preserving its collections, the Library supplies research and reference assistance to state officials, provides consulting services to state and local government agencies and to Virginia’s public libraries, administers numerous federal, state, and local grant programs, publishes award-winning books on Virginia history, provides educational programs and resources on Virginia history and culture for students and teachers, and offers the public a wide array of exhibitions, lectures, book-signings, and other programs at burniva.com.

In addition to the main Library building, the Library manages the State Records Center in Henrico County where inactive, non-permanent records of state agencies and local governments are housed.

About the Library

The Library of Virginia will inspire learning, ignite imagination, create possibilities, encourage understanding, and engage Virginia’s past to empower its future.

As the Commonwealth’s library and archives, the Library of Virginia is a trusted educational institution. We acquire, preserve, and promote access to unique collections of Virginia’s history and culture and advance the development of library and records management services statewide.

20 hours ago

Education at LVA
Did you know we honored William Carney as part of our Strong Men & Women in Virginia History program? edu.lva.virginia.gov/changemakers/items/show/249Today is Flag Day, and it is worth recalling the story of William Carney, who well understood the value of the flag.Born as a slave in Norfolk, Virginia on February 29, 1840, William H. Carney escaped through the Underground Railroad, and found his father living in Massachusetts. In February 1863, Carney joined the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as a Sergeant. The regiment was one of the first official African-American units in the United States during the Civil War. He took part in the July 18, 1863, assault on Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. (This battle was dramatized in the 1989 film "Glory.")In "The Black Military Experience," from the Freedman and Southern Society Project (supported by the NHPRC), there is an account of the battle from Lt. Col. E.N. Hallowell:"With Col. Shaw leading, the assault was commenced. Exposed to the direct fire of cannister and musketry and as the ramparts were mounted, the havoc made in our ranks was very great.Upon leaving the ditch for the parapet, they obstanetly contested with the bayonet our advance. Notwithstanding these difficulties the men succeeded in driving the enemy from most of their guns, many following the enemy into the Fort. It was here upon the crest of the parapet that Col. Shaw fell; here fell Capts Russel and Simpkins; here were also most of the officers wounded. The Colors of the Regt reached the crest, and were there fought for by the enemy. The State Flag then torn from its staff, but the staff remains with us. Hand Grenades were now added to the missels directed against the men."The Massachusetts 54th suffered 272 killed, wounded or missing out of the 600 in the battle. Hallowell singled out Carney and three other men for special merit. After being wounded, Sgt. Carney saw that the color bearer had been shot down a few feet away. Carney summoned all his strength to retrieve the fallen colors and continued the charge. During the charge Carney was shot several more times, yet he kept the colors flying high. Once delivering the flag back to his regiment, he shouted "The Old Flag never touched the ground!"In May 1900, nearly 37 years after the battle, Carney received the Congressional Medal of Honor.The Freedmen and Southern Society Project was established in 1976 to capture the essence of that revolution by depicting the drama of emancipation in the words of the participants: liberated slaves and defeated slaveholders, soldiers and civilians, common folk and the elite, Northerners and Southerners. For more information, go to www.freedmen.umd.edu/index.html ...
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22 hours ago

Education at LVA
The Library of Virginia will be closed on Friday, June 18 for the Juneteenth holiday.Image: Emancipation Day parade, Richmond, Virginia, 1905. Library of Congress photograph. Celebrations in Richmond often took place on April 3, the date Union forces entered the city.The Library of Virginia will be closed on Friday, June 18 for the Juneteenth holiday.The Library is currently open Tuesday–Friday, 10 AM–4 PM, which includes the Virginia Shop. As of Friday, May 28, 2021, appointments are no longer needed to use our 2nd-floor reading rooms.Image: Emancipation Day parade, Richmond, Virginia, 1905. Library of Congress photograph. Celebrations in Richmond often took place on April 3, the date Union forces entered the city. ...
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2 weeks ago

Education at LVA
How do you talk about cultural differences in your classroom?It is so important to honor, respect, and learn about the culture of others beneath the surface! 🙌📷 www.janinesmusicroom.com ...
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