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Letter from VLA President Jessica Scalph: January and February 2019


Hello VLA Colleagues,

Why do I have that interesting title above my greeting?  That is the theme for our upcoming conference in Norfolk, at The Main, (Oct 23-25, 2019).  We do have a wonderful social planned for the conference that will have a 70’s theme, but that is not the only reason we selected that phrase.

In my library system (Prince William Public Library System) as in many others, we are striving to become “the place” in our communities that people feel safe, respected and able to express their views on controversial issues.  Our conference committee felt that these three words encompassed those ideals and we are hoping to spark many interesting, thoughtful conference session proposals from this theme.

The VLA Executive Committee and the VLA Council met on January 17th and 18th.  We approved the proposed 2019 budget, discussed and sent forward the designated agenda for 2019 and worked on other issues that were sent to our attention.  I proposed an addition to the designated agenda for 2019 (which was approved) under section V, (f) Develop a statewide initiative to encourage members of our profession to attend career days at middle or high schools to promote our profession, especially in diverse areas.

We discussed various methods to assist with this initiative including:
1) Offering a tool kit for the library staff to use during the career days.
2) Reaching out to the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) for partnership and ideas.
3) Pursuing the idea of high school interns at our libraries.
4) Working with New Members Round Table Forum, the Diversity and Inclusion Forum and the VLA Librarians of Color for assistance with ideas and promotion of the initiative.

The conference committee met through Zoom in early January, and we are discussing various logistical details such as:
1) What to offer for fun through the local arrangements committee?
2) What would be a good directional guide for people traveling to the conference?
3) How to ask the important questions on the evaluation form.
4) How to configure the conference session proposal form.

Conference session proposal forms are now live!

Todd Elliott, Immediate Past-President, would like a volunteers from our organization to join the 2019 Nominations Committee. This Committee vets candidates for elected leadership positions for our Summer elections. 

Please email him as soon as possible if you are interested: [email protected].

In addition, members may feel free to send nominations for consideration for the following positions: Vice-President/President-Elect (public sector, three-year commitment), Second Vice President (academic sector, two-year commitment), Treasurer (public sector, two-year commitment), and ALA Councilor (three-year commitment, no specific sector required). Please refer to the Virginia Library Association (VLA) Manual & By-Laws for specific duties.

Thank you,
Jessica Scalph
VLA President
[email protected]


The VLA Intellectual Freedom Committee is proud to announce the 2018 Banned Books Week Contest awards. These awards are given to libraries in Virginia who have gone above and beyond to engage their communities with displays, events, or activities that highlight issues of censorship and intellectual freedom during Banned Books Week. The Intellectual Freedom Committee was particularly impressed by the creativity that went into this event this year, and has selected a library in each category: public, academic, and school library. 

Public: Suffolk Public Library:

"The Suffolk Public Library facilitated a week long project called, "Banning Books Silences Stories: Alt Rebels." The project was aimed to educate the public about intellectual freedom and censorship issues during Banned Books Week (BBW). The entire project was designed to get people thinking about how things would be if banning books and censorship was a normal everyday occurrence and libraries were forced to take on the role radical bibliophile rebels! During BBW, we explored and focused on banned books as seen through the lens of an alternative universe scenario where books are banned everywhere and ideas are dangerous. All of our marketing, branding, and program titles/idea was roughly based off of historic rebellions, civil disobedience, and human rights movements. Through the "Banning Books Silences Stories: Alt Rebels" project, we hoped to open the public's eyes to what freedom and censorship truly mean as well as educate the community about the unfortunate reality of modern-day censorship issues like freedom of speech and the right to access information. Throughout BBW, our goal was to offer our community a series of unique and informative programs for all ages and abilities as well as interactive displays." 

 Suffolk Public Library Banned Books Display


Academic: University of Lynchburg Knight Capron Library

During Banned Books week, we hosted an event called 'Reading Banned Books Rocks.' Capitalizing on the popularity of other painted rock programs in our area, we painted rocks to represent some of our favorite banned books, including Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and The Handmaid's Tale and hid them throughout the library and around campus. We attached information about Banned Books Week to each rock and directed the finders to bring them to the library circulation desk for a prize. Among other prizes, we gave away Wax Lips to symbolize the theme - 'Banning Books Silences Stories.' Because Banned Books Week falls within Hispanic Heritage Month, we painted a special rock for The House on Mango Street, which also came with a copy of the book. This program was fairly easy to execute, but it made a big impact. Many of our students spent the week trying to find our rocks and it started a larger discussion about banned books, censorship, and the freedom to read! 

 University of Lynchburg Knight Capron Library


School: VBCPS Ocean Lakes High School 

This is a collage of our Banned Books celebration. First, we created a book display featuring some of the banned books in our library. We created a collection in Destiny Discover so that students could access the books more easily and then we also created a censorship collection where students could use interactive tools, etc. to find out more about banned books from around the world, etc. On the books, we typed up the reasons why the book was challenged and wrapped them in caution tape. For instance, The Diary of Anne Frank was banned in Alabama for "being a real downer." We also used our green screen to represent a police line up so students and staff could get caught reading a banned book. We shredded damaged banned books and had a contest for students to guess the book. Lastly, we created Yes/\No questions about books and censorship and encouraged students to respond.  

 VBCPS Ocean Lakes High School


Nominations for 2019 have now closed.

Please look out for the nomination form for 2020 in January! 

2019 VLA Awards: Call For Nominations

The Virginia Library Association is now seeking nominations for our 2019 VLA Awards and our 2019 VLA Professional Associates Forum Awards. These awards will recognize contributions of library workers in Virginia during 2018. Please use the online submission form to submit your nominations by April 1. 

Questions? Contact Katelyn Burton, Awards Committee Chair, at [email protected].

To view awards criteria and submission requirements, visit the
VLA Awards Webpage and VLA PAF Awards Webpage.

Each nominee must meet the criteria for the award for which they are nominated. Nomination forms and accompanying documentation must be submitted prior to 11:59 pm on April 1, 2019.

The Scholarship & Awards Celebration will kick off the 2019 VLA Annual Conference on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at Hilton Norfolk The Main. This year, we are pleased to be honoring winners of VLA Awards and VLA PAF Awards during the Celebration in Norfolk! Tickets will be on sale when conference registration opens. Each award winner will receive one complimentary ticket to the Scholarship and Awards Celebration.

 2018 Award Winners


Letter from Lisa R. Varga: Membership Structure Changes at VLA, 2019

Hello, VLA Supporters!

I suppose you are wondering a bit about this new Affiliate Membership that VLA is launching, and how it will impact you. Here is the background.

Each year, VLA evaluates its budget as part of our annual Executive Committee Retreat in December, as we prepare for the coming year. Each year, we do everything we can to prevent a dues increase for Individual Members of the association. The last time VLA had a dues increase was 2007. It is our belief, that in a decade in which library staff have not received much (if any) increases, it would be unfair to ask for more money out of your pockets to operate the Association. We have been able to sustain the Association with other increases (such as an increase for Jobline postings or increased costs for vendor booths at our annual conference.) The cost of running the association has also increased, but we don’t want to pass the cost on to each Individual Member.

Last year, the VLA Executive Committee created an Ad Hoc Committee – consisting of myself, Cori Biddle of Bridgewater College (VLA Treasurer), Past VLA Presidents Lisa Lee Broughman (Randolph College) and Matt Todd (Northern Virginia Community College), as well as Dr. Nan B. Carmack of the Library of Virginia.  This group began researching alternative membership structures, looking at other library associations in the U.S., and other associations in VA. What we have created – the Affiliate Membership – is meant to support VLA and encourage participation in the association.

When we have presented this concept to library leaders, we’ve said: “VLA doesn’t have a membership problem, we have a participation issue. And the barrier to participation is financial. If we can take down the financial barrier, we hope to see increased participation in Committees, Forums, Elections, Conferences, Networking and Continuing Education events.”

We believe that association memberships are like gym memberships – you have to use them to get stronger. In my 7 years as your Executive Director, I have seen many people reach their professional goals – and one of the ways they have done that is through the networks they have made by participating in VLA.

VLA members come from all over the Commonwealth, and work at academic, public, special, school, government, law and other libraries. They work in museums, at corporations, in rural and urban settings. They work in small libraries and large regional systems, or for universities and colleges with multiple locations in the state. We want them all to network. We want them all to advocate. But to do that, you have to connect with one another. Affiliate Membership brings us there.

When library becomes an Affiliate, every single staff person at that library is eligible to create a member profile on and can take advantage of events at VLA member rates. They can also vote in VLA elections and participate in Committees and Forums. This is true for full-time and part-time staff, whether they are librarians or library associates. This also includes members of your library’s Board or leadership of your Friends group.

Affiliate Membership runs from January 1-December 31 and is based on the budget of the library. (See chart.)  Each organization will have one Key Contact at your library who can add and delete staff from their membership list. (And, we hope, be able to register everyone at an organization for a conference in bulk. Fingers crossed. We are working out the details.)

This is a big change for many organizations, and it is a big change for us. So we ask for your patience as we transition in December/January – consolidating member records may take us a little time behind the scenes – making sure that you, as an Individual member, still have access to your VLA profile if your organization creates an Affiliate Membership. As you know from working in libraries, sometimes the back end needs a little human touch to work.

We recognize that not every library in the state will be able to participate. Or may not be able to participate immediately. We still have Individual Membership if your organization can’t create an Affiliate Membership.

Related to the Affiliate Membership program is another change we have made this year with the VLA Professional Associates Conference. After 28+ years, we are skipping the conference this year and are putting Focus Groups in its place. At those Focus Groups (held around Virginia in 2019), we will be asking library support staff YOUR opinion on the future of the VLAPAF Conference. It is important that library support staff have their own conference each year in Virginia, and Affiliate Membership will help bring down that financial barrier to membership and increase participation.

VLA will launch the Affiliate Membership form on our website during the week of December 3. If your library takes part in this program, we will begin the process of transitioning your account from Individual to Affiliate. If your organization cannot take part, Individual Members will receive their renewal invoices in January 2019.

As always, thank you for support of the Virginia Library Association. Please let me know if you have any questions,

Lisa R. Varga, MLS
Executive Director, Virginia Library Association


Letter from VLA President Jessica Scalph: November 2018

Hello VLA colleagues!

For me, November is a month to focus on gratefulness.  I am very grateful for the career I have enjoyed in librarianship (most of it being in Virginia for the last twenty years).  I am especially grateful, that I will have the opportunity to lead VLA this year.

In order to go full circle with gratefulness we should give back to our profession.  The following are ideas that I feel are admirable and achievable by most of us:

  1. Mentoring someone in your library that is interested in furthering his or her career in libraries.  The New Members Round Table of VLA, will be asking for mentors and mentees starting in February 2019.  Look for information on Facebook (VLA NMRT) or the VLA website and consider volunteering. (If you would like to learn more on this topic, I would recommend this book, The Elements of Mentoring by W. Brad Johnson and Charles R. Ridley.)
  2. Attending local career fairs for middle or high schools to interest young people in our career field.   As part of this initiative, we should consider reaching out to schools in diverse neighborhoods.
  3. Planning and offering VLA workshops in your area.
  4. Joining a local service organization to give back to your community. 

Looking ahead to December, the conference committee will be meeting in early December to start the process of planning an engaging and relevant conference.  The conference committee  will be meeting in Norfolk where the conference will be held, Hilton Norfolk the Main, October 23-25, 2019.  Our executive committee will also be meeting in December to go over the designated agenda for the upcoming year in Roanoke.  I look forward to updating you all on our December activities in our December newsletter.
Please feel out to me by email if you have comments, questions, etc. [email protected]

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