Virginia Capitol Connections, Winter 2023 10 Marking a Milestone: The Library of Virginia Turns 200 By SANDRA GIOIA TREADWAY “So many books, so little time.”We’ve all heard that saying, and for book lovers, it expresses the ultimate frustration. Well, take heart. The Library of Virginia has, in fact, had time—two hundred years to be exact—to provide Virginians with an amazing collection of, not only books, but an unbelievable number of other resources as well. The Library is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2023. It is one of the oldest executive branch agencies in the Commonwealth, and it is among the oldest state libraries and archives in the United States. This milestone is a great year to learn about all that the Library of Virginia can offer. On January 24, 1823, the General Assembly established a library at the seat of state government to acquire works on law and a myriad of other subjects that the governor, legislators, and judges needed to be knowledgeable about in order to fulfill their responsibilities. Funding to purchase books for the Library was provided through the sale of William Waller Hening’s thirteenvolume edition of early Virginia statutes. The first catalog of the Library’s holdings, published in 1828, listed 1,582 volumes of law, political economy, history, biography, and agriculture. Included in this collection were 70 books dating back to the Colonial Council library kept at Jamestown and later Williamsburg. These volumes, many bearing the distinctive bookplate of the Council, remain in the Library today. Needless to say, the Library’s collections have grown substantially over the years and now contain 2 million books, newspapers, maps, prints, and photographs as well as 130 million manuscript items. The archival collection contains the official records of all of the Commonwealth’s governors, the General Assembly, and state agencies and commissions as well as personal and family correspondence, business papers, genealogical research files, and records of thousands of political, professional, and educational organizations. The Library’s holdings comprise the single most comprehensive collection of information about Virginia history, culture, and government available anywhere in the world. During 2023 the Library will offer a variety of experiences, activities, and events to engage Virginians of all ages in exploring Virginia’s rich and diverse history and culture. On January 24, we will open 200 Years, 200 Stories: An Anniversary Exhibition, a multimedia experience that celebrates 200 Virginians, both ordinary and extraordinary, whose stories are among the hundreds of thousands housed in our collections. Taken together, the stories of these men and women and the artifacts that illustrate them tell us much about Virginia’s collective past. When you visit the exhibition you will learn about two naturalized citizens of Virginia—the Marquis de Lafayette, a French-born general who fought alongside George Washington during the American Revolution, and Ow Chuck Sam, who emigrated from China and once gaining his citizenship served with American armed forces in World War II. You’ll see an original songbook containing pieces written and performed by country music pioneer Maybelle Carter and her family, the fanciful costume (complete with magic wand) worn by the Virginia Lottery’s “Lady Luck”—and much more. The exhibition will run through October 28, 2023. In late March the Library will launch LVA On The Go, a statewide outreach initiative that will continue beyond 2023. LVA On The Go is a custom-fitted vehicle that will transport staff, programs, workshops, genealogical expertise, historical resources, and more to Virginians in all corners of the Commonwealth. We are partnering with libraries and historical and cultural organizations across the state to share what the Library of Virginia offers even to those who may never travel to Richmond. The Library has been a leader in employing technology to capture and preserve government information and to digitize millions of images from our print, manuscript, and photographic collections to make them accessible through the Library’s Virginia Memory website The first building constructed specifically to house the State Library opened in 1895 and included a wing added in 1908. Later known as the Finance Building, the structure was renamed the Oliver Hill Building. All images courtesy of the Library of Virginia.