The Library of Virginia welcomes attendees of the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, May 31–June 3, 2023! We look forward to seeing you at the Library of Virginia. This site will help you prepare for your visit, learn how to make the best use of your time here, and find ways to continue your research after you leave the Library.
About the Library of Virginia
Created in 1823, the Library of Virginia is the commonwealth’s state library and archives. The holdings include state and local records and a variety of private collections—including personal papers and records relating to organizations, houses of worship, and businesses—as well as books and periodicals relating to Virginia history and culture. Our collections, which contain more than 130 million items, document and illustrate the lives of both famous Virginians and ordinary citizens.
Preparing for Your Visit
Preparation is key to a productive visit! Suggestions include:
Review the Library’s website thoroughly.
Contact staff in advance with questions and to confirm that original material is on-site and not at the Library’s State Records Center in Henrico County.
Focus on materials that can only be found at the Library of Virginia.
- Many records are available online, including the Library’s digital collections, local records that have been digitized by FamilySearch, and publications that have been digitized by FamilySearch (this video describes how to search their catalog), Google Books, HathiTrust, or the Internet Archive.
- Many of the Library’s subscription databases are available through your local library.
- Some materials may be borrowed through interlibrary loan.
Library of Virginia Website
The Library of Virginia’s website is the best place to start your exploration of the Library’s collections. The site is divided into four sections (For Researchers, For the Public, For Libraries & Educators, and For Localities & State Agencies). The For Researchers and For the Public sections provide the information that you need to plan your visit.
Search the LVA Catalog: The LVA Catalog includes catalog records for published materials, state agency records, and private collections. Although many local records, maps, and architectural drawings collections are included, it is not comprehensive. An increasing number of digital collections are also included. A step-by-step guide to using the catalog is available.
Research Guides & Indexes: This section includes lists of microfilm, indexes created by the Library, and guides to using collections.
Databases & eBooks: Links to a variety of databases are included in this section. Some are freely available, others are subscription databases that are only available within the Library of Virginia, and a few are subscription databases that may be accessed remotely by Virginia residents who have a Library of Virginia card or online account. Content includes original records, newspapers, and maps. Please note that these databases were not created by the Library of Virginia. All content created by the Library is freely available.
Virginia Memory: This site has links to the Library’s digital collections, some of which may also be found in the LVA Catalog and Research Guides & Indexes section. Browsing a list of digital collections is a helpful way to begin searching.
Register for a Library Account: A library card is necessary for requesting and checking out materials from closed stacks and using the Archives Research Room and Special Collections. It also serves as a copy card. Virginia residents can begin the registration process online prior to their visit and complete the process at the Library. Cards may be obtained at the Circulation Desk.
Events & Exhibitions Calendar: This calendar provides information on Library hours and events and will be particularly helpful when visiting before or after the conference.
The Library of Virginia’s hours vary, so please keep in mind:
The first floor Lobby and Exhibition Gallery are open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The reading rooms are open Tuesday, May 30 through Friday, June 2, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with exceptions:
- Archives Research Room: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; no materials may be requested between 12:45 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. or after 4:00 p.m.
- Microfilm Area: 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
- Special Collections (Prints, Photographs, Rare Books and Maps): 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On Thursday, June 1, the Library of Virginia will be open in the evening from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., with exceptions:
- Archives Research Room: 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; no materials may be requested after 8:00 p.m.
- Microfilm Area: 6:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
- Special Collections (Prints, Photographs, Rare Books and Maps): 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The reading rooms are open on Saturday, June 3:
- Archives Reading Room: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; no materials may be requested between 12:45 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. or after 3:30 p.m.
- Microfilm Area: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Special Collections (Prints, Photographs, Rare Books and Maps): Closed
Where to Start
If you are driving to the Library of Virginia, free parking is available under the building. Your ticket may be validated at the security desk.
Apply for a Library of Virginia library card at the Circulation Desk. Circulation staff can assist with questions concerning library cards, borrowing materials, and interlibrary loan.
Library Reference Services staff (located at the Circulation Desk) can assist with questions concerning publications (including newspapers) and subscription databases.
Archives Reference Services staff (located at the reference desk in the West Reading Room) can assist with questions concerning archival material, including material that has been microfilmed or digitized.
The Library of Virginia’s Wi-Fi network is LVA Guest (no password required).
Prioritize using research materials that are only available at the Library of Virginia.
What to Bring
A driver’s license with photo and current address to apply for a Library of Virginia library card
- If you do not have a driver’s license, other forms of identification may be used. Please contact the Circulation department for more details.
A camera, phone, or tablet to photograph publications and documents.
- You must be able to turn off the flash.
Flash drives for saving images copied with book or microfilm scanners.
- If you forget your flash drive, one may be purchased from the Circulation Desk.
Pencils and loose leaf paper for use in the Archives Research Room and Special Collections
Dollar bills for adding money to your library card (which is also a copy card)
- You may use a credit card, but must add a minimum of $5.00, and unused money on your card cannot be refunded.
There is usually no need to impose time limits for reading room use, but because of the volume of visitation during the NGS Conference, it may be necessary for certain areas if other patrons are waiting.
- Microfilm Area: 1 hour
- Archives Research Room: 2 hours
- Please remain in the Archives Research Room after you request your materials because you may have only 2 hours to review them if other patrons are waiting to use the room.
Things to See and Do at the Library of Virginia (Besides Research)
Can Can Cafe at the Library of Virginia is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and offers soup, salad and sandwiches, as well as to-go coffee, pastries, desserts and other items.
The Virginia Shop is open Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Merchandise includes books and literary and Virginia themed gift items.
Our anniversary exhibition, 200 Years, 200 Stories, celebrates 200 Virginians whose fascinating narratives can be found in the Library’s records, images and artifacts. Discover the 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.
Placing copy requests during your visit is often less expensive, but if you need to order a copy of specific pages or records, ordering copies later is an option.
- If extensive research is required and another visit is not an option, consider hiring a professional researcher.
Some materials may be available through interlibrary loan. Library of Virginia staff can help you to determine whether specific material is available for loan, but requests must be generated by your local library on your behalf.
Some of the Library of Virginia’s digital collections are still being updated, so check back periodically. Collections in progress include:
- Chancery Records Index
- Virginia Untold: The African American Narrative
- Virginia Chronicle
- Burned Jurisdictions Database
- Virginia Yearbooks Digital Collection
- Map Collections
- Lost Records Localities Digital Collection
Check the Library’s Virginia Memory site for updates about new collections. You can also find news about digital collections on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, our online newsletter, and in the Library’s magazine, Broadside.
- VCU Children’s Pavilion Cafe, 1000 E. Broad St.: sandwiches, soups, Starbucks coffee
- Kat’s Breakfast & Lunch, 701 E. Franklin St., #110: burgers, sandwiches, salads
- Secret Sandwich Society, 501 E. Grace St.: sandwiches, burgers
- Wong Gonzalez, 412 E. Grace St.: Mexican-Asian fusion
- Urban Hang Suite, 304 E. Broad St.: sandwiches, salads, coffee
- Subway, 30 N. 8th St.: sandwiches, wraps, salads
- Lift Coffee Shop & Cafe, 218 W. Broad St.: coffee, lighter fare
- Sefton Coffee Company, 24 N. 8th St.: coffee, lighter fare
- Starbucks, 500 E. Broad St.: coffee, sandwiches