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Celebrate Banned Books Week October 1-7, 2023

The VLA Intellectual Freedom Committee invites you to honor Banned Books Week, Oct. 1-7, 2023, themed "Let Freedom Read" by the American Library Association's 2023. Many libraries across the Commonwealth of Virginia will be hosting displays of banned books— books that while not completely eliminated from publication or distribution have been challenged and at times removed from libraries by government order. That some libraries find it politically unsafe to speak of “Banned Books” displays and need to use other terminology, such as "First Amendment" displays, provides a renewed justification for setting apart this week. Many libraries are also offering programming and activities, such as readings from banned books, to raise awareness about efforts to censor and the importance of standing for the right to read as a basic First Amendment and Civil right of all Americans.

We also invite you to read Nan Carmack's, VLA President-Elect, statement about Banned Books Week drafted by VLA’s President-Elect Nan Carmack, below.

Banned Books Week Oct 1 -7. 2023
 - Nan Carmack, President-Elect, Virginia Library Association
Banned Books Week serves not only to celebrate literature that disrupts comfortable thinking but also the very first idea that the founders of the United States of America added to our Constitution: The First Amendment. In asserting the freedom of speech to every person, our founders held sacred the notion that no one should be prevented from expressing or consuming ideas that others may find objectionable. Books that fall on the lists of banned or challenged books demonstrate the attempt by some to silence an author from expressing their ideas, their lived experience, their imagination. Bans and challenges also attempt to thwart the freedom of readers to explore the same ideas, experiences, and imaginings.
Dr. Rudine Bishop Simms, professor emeritus at Ohio State University, wrote a famed essay in which she likens books to “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.” These analogies demonstrate how literature can provide the reader with a reflection of themselves, a window into which they can view the experience of another, and very special books that allow us to step into another world entirely. In doing so, books have the power to help folks grow their capacity for empathy, understanding, and compassion.  
This week, we celebrate not only the value of literature that challenge our own experiences, but the American ideal of the freedom of speech, in which no one person or entity can tell us what we can and cannot read. This week, we celebrate the League of Women Voters standing up for the Freedom to Read. Which book will you choose to read in celebration?



356 unique book titles were challenged across Virginia in the first 8 months of 2023, according to the American Library Association. That's nearly twice the 182 titles that came under fire in the state in 2022, which was double the previous year's number.

-October 3, 2023


Intellectual Freedom Display Contest 2023 sponsored by the VLA Intellectual Freedom CommitteeHas your library created a display or program during 2023 that promotes the ideas of intellectual freedom and the freedom to read, whether for Banned Books Week, Freedom of Information Day, Sunshine Week, Choose Privacy Week, academic freedom, or any other topic related to the First Amendment and censorship?

The Intellectual Freedom Committee is sponsoring a contest to recognize efforts to support access to information in Virginia’s libraries. We encourage you to submit your best activities, displays, events, and programs for this contest. Awards will be presented to both an academic library and a  public library. Here is the link to the contest application form.

The IFC will review all submissions and choose the winners, which will be announced during the annual VLA Conference in October. We encourage (but do not require) both photographs and a narrative about your event. The deadline for submissions is Thursday, October 12, 2023. If you have questions or cannot access the contest form in Google, please contact Rebecca Lamb.

Winners will receive a certificate and bragging rights for a year. Good luck!



We are pleased to announce the application for the Virginia Library Leadership Academy (VALLA), 2024 cohort is now available.


We are looking for:

  • Individuals who are interested in developing their leadership skills over the next year, regardless of where they are in their leadership journey or position in a library. 
  • A diverse group of individuals who would like to grow as library leaders across Virginia and are willing to invest in themselves through this process over the next year.
  • Individuals who are willing to learn from others, build their leadership network, and view leadership development through an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion lens.

When: Sunday, March 10, 2024 - Wednesday, March 13, 2023


In-person workshop:
Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center
710 S. Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA 2281
Post-workshop Mentor Sessions:

Cost: Free to 2024 participants, thanks to generous sponsorships by individuals and library organizations.

Deadline to apply: November 15, 2023

Has your interest been peaked? Click here for more information about the 2024 VALLA Cohort. A link is available to the application through the 2024 VALLA Cohort page, or you can click here to apply now.

If you have any questions, please contact the 2024 VALLA Planning Chair:

Dr. Jennifer Brown

[email protected]

 -Posted September 25, 2023


VLA 2024 Election of Officers Results

Please join us in congratulating the newly elected members of the Virginia Library Association Executive Committee for 2024!

Vivian Washington photo

Vivian Washington has been elected to a 3-year term as Vice-President/President-Elect. Vivian is currently the Central Library Manager for Chesapeake Public Library.




Kelsey Cheshire photo

Kelsey Cheshire (she/her) has been elected to a 2-year term as 2nd Vice President. Kelsey is the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Librarian and Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries.




Maryke Barber photo

Maryke Barber has been elected to a 2-year term as Treasurer. Maryke is the Information Literacy, Outreach, and Arts Liaison Librarian at the Library at Hollins University.






Vivian, Kelsey, and Maryke will begin their roles at the conclusion of the VLA Annual Conference Business Meeting, Tuesday, October 24, at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles in Chantilly, VA.

They will join the other members of the 2024 VLA Executive Committee:
Nan Carmack, President
Kimberly Knight, Immediate Past-President
Rebecca Purdy, Secretary
Kerri Copus, ALA Councilor
Lisa R. Varga, Executive Director









2024 Cardinal Cup Committee: Seeking Members

Are you a history buff?  Do you enjoy reading new juvenile and young adult literature? Apply to be a member of the 2024 Cardinal Cup Award Committee 

Applicants must be willing to make the time commitment to read and discuss the books submitted for consideration, as well as attend physical and/or virtual meetings. Complete the application linked below and return it to Hailee Coleman, Cardinal Cup Committee Chair, by October 7, 2023. Email your completed application to [email protected].

The Cardinal Cup honors the most distinguished biography, historical fiction, or American history book for children and young adults published in the previous year. Presented since 1983, the Cardinal Cup Committee’s goal is to promote reading about America’s past; to encourage the quality writing of United States history, biography, and historical fiction for young people, and to recognize authors in these disciplines. Read more and see previous winners here.

The Cardinal Cup Committee selects the winning title. The committee has eight members: a chairperson and vice-chairperson (selected by the previous year’s committee) and six members selected by the current chair and the past chair of the previous year’s Cardinal Cup Committee.  It is the goal of the committee chair to cultivate a committee of diverse perspectives that include representatives of different VLA regions, backgrounds, occupations, and identities. All committee members must be members of VLA. Members may be employed by public libraries, schools of any type, or bookstores; they may also be unemployed or retired.

You may nominate yourself or a colleague for consideration. Persons selected must be willing to commit a large amount of personal time to read and evaluate books; committee members may receive over 200 titles. Members will also have to attend daytime meetings held virtually. The final meeting will be held in person. Persons who serve on the committee should be knowledgeable of literature for young people and have book evaluation experience. Cardinal Cup Committee members are expected to present programs at the annual VLA and, possibly, VAASL conferences, so a supervisor must sign the application, indicating he or she will allow the person to attend the conferences and will assist with the member’s expenses.


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