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Letter from VLA President Todd Elliott: May 2018

Greetings VLA Colleagues!

I was thumbing through the most recent issue of American Libraries when the article on emerging leaders caught my eye. I observed so many different faces who worked in different types of libraries working on exciting team projects that mattered such as defending LGBTQ materials in school libraries to collecting oral histories to strategic member engagement and so on. They came from different backgrounds, unified for a common cause.

One of the great things about library management is taking the time and attention to develop leadership from within.  A professional associate staff member in my department had an opportunity to apply her knowledge working with children to serving on an interview panel for a similar position – an assignment she did not want to perform. I know because she told me. More than once. It may be important to know that I enjoy a collegial relationship with my Portsmouth Public Library team and have encouraged them to openly share their feelings about the workplace. Do they ever! Anyway, I explained why this would be a good experience for her but this was going to happen because I said so (don’t judge me – many of you know that I am a military veteran). Well, you may have guessed, she enjoyed taking part in bringing new talent to the department and thanked me for “making” her do it.

I say all of this because we are in the home stretch for the 2018 Professional Associates Conference with the theme “Other Duties as Assigned.” There is a late fee at this point but I hope that you emerging leaders reading this newsletter will want to join your colleagues who hail from different types of libraries and add your unique voice to the conversation. It’s this diversity of ideas that give strength to your association and to Virginia’s libraries and this, my friends, is the beauty of coming together with purpose.  

Thanks for taking the time to read your newsletter! Feel free to give me a shout at [email protected].


2018 Virginia Library Leadership Academy



Twenty-seven library professionals from various types of libraries participated in the Virginia Library Leadership Academy (VALLA). This day and a half intensive leadership experience was led by Maureen Sullivan, ALA Past President and VLA Conference Keynote Speaker, with a special focus on being able to “lead the change.”  

The academy graduates met in Staunton VA from Monday, April 23 – Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in historic Staunton, VA after being selected to participate from a competitive application process.   This is the fifth academy since it was first offered in 2010 and is held biennially.  It was first coordinated by the Virginia Library Association’s Leadership Development Forum, which is now part of the Continuing Education Committee.  

2018 VALLA Graduates:
Dorinne Banks (George Washington University Libraries)
Dana Bomba (Campbell County Public Library)
Natalie Browning (Longwood University- Greenwood Library)
Ronda L. Clayton (Rockbridge Regional Library System- Bath Branch)
Piper L Cumbo (Roanoke College- Fintel Library)
Zachary Elder (Newport News Public Libraries)
Kathleen W. Fogarty (Virginia Beach Public Library- Princess Anne)
Rorie Fredrich (Liberty University- Jerry Falwell Library)
Adele Gardner (Hampton Public Library)
Gregg Grunow (Portsmouth Public Library)
Jessica Harshbarger (Chesterfield County Public Library- Midlothian Branch)
Jennifer Hayek (Chesterfield County Public Library- Central Library)
Elizabeth Hill (Staunton Public Library)
Clara Hudson Sieber (Virginia Beach Public Library)
Barbara Jones (Williamsburg Regional Library)
Ali McCue (Augusta County Library)
Joleen McInnis (Old Dominion University Libraries)
Katharine "Kitti" McKean (Samuels Public Library)
Megan Northcote (Central Rappahannock Regional Library- Salem Church Branch)
Susan H. Pillow (Jones Memorial Library)
Hannah Risley (Alexandria Library)
Jessica Robertson (Central Rappahannock Regional Library)
Matthew Shelley (Christopher Newport University- Trible Library)
Kristen Shuyler (James Madison University- Libraries and Educational Technologies)
Heather Simpson (Chesapeake Public Library)
Pamela Smith (Central Rappahannock Regional Library)
Bethany Young (Christopher Newport University- Trible Library)

VALLA is self-sustaining and would not be possible without the generous sponsorships from the following:

BCWH (Chuck Wray- [email protected])
Paula Altman (Library Interiors- [email protected])
Melos Inc. (Jason Green- [email protected])

Special thanks to Barbara Ferrara (VLA Continuing Education Committee Co-Chair & Chesterfield County Public Library)
and Lisa Varga (VLA Executive Director) for their efforts in making VALLA a success.

For additional questions:
Clint S. Rudy
VALLA 2018 Coordinator
[email protected]


2018 Scholarship Winners Announced

The VLA Scholarship Committee is pleased to announce the 2018 scholarship recipients. Congratulations to Melinda Manuel, Chelsea Seddon, and Bonnie Shaw on their academic excellence and dedication to the field of Library Science.

VLA Paraprofessional Clara Stanley Scholarship

The 2018 recipient of the VLAPF Clara Stanley Scholarship is Melinda Manuel from Roanoke County, VA. Melinda works for the Mt. Pleasant Branch of the Roanoke County Public Library System. She says, “My desire to create new library users while serving the current patron base inspires me to continually learn about what is working in other systems, as well as to try big ideas and explore groundbreaking programs. I have a reputation as being enthusiastic, determined, and competitive and these traits will allow me to effectively lead in this industry, which is transforming as technology and other factors necessitate a shift in services in order to stay relevant.” Melinda joined VLA in 2018. She is obtaining her MLIS degree from the University of South Florida and will graduate in spring of 2019. 

VLA Scholarships

The 2018 recipients of the two VLA Scholarships are Chelsea Seddon and Bonnie Shaw.

Chelsea Seddon has worked with the Roanoke Public Library System  in Roanoke, VA since 2016. On her own professional growth, she says, “I have challenged myself by applying for and receiving a more advanced position, attending optional trainings in areas outside of my direct duties, and pursuing cross-training in other departments of my organization. I collaborated with members of my organization, as well as those of its governing body, as I assisted in bringing a branch renovation to fruition this past year. This experience, as well as working on smaller work teams to plan events and being a part of a small branch staff, have shown me how essential collaboration and teamwork are in the field of librarianship.” She has been an active member in VLA since 2016 and is currently Secretary/Treasurer for the New Members Round Table. Chelsea is earning her MSIS degree from the University of Tennessee and expects to graduate in December 2018.

Originally from Chicago, Bonnie Shaw lives in Suffolk, VA and works as a Cataloging Assistant at the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William & Mary. On her future plans she says, “I hope that when I am done with my Masters in the Spring of 2020 that I am able to work at a library, whether public or academic, as Cataloging Librarian in Virginia…I feel with my 7 years of library experience and my over 20 years of customer service experience, I will be a highly marketable library employee once I graduate.” Bonnie has been an active member of VLA since 2015 and will begin working on her MLIS from the University of Alabama in summer 2018.

VLA appreciates the support of this program. To learn more about the program, visit our Scholarships page. To make a tax-deductible donation to the Scholarship fund, please visit our donation page.

2018 Jefferson Cup Award Winners and Honors Announced

Sinking The Sultana and Before She Was Harriet win the 2018 Jefferson Cup

The Jefferson Cup Committee is pleased to announce their selections for the 2018 winning and honor titles. The 2018 Jefferson Cup Award winner for Young Adult Readers is Sinking the Sultana: a Civil War story of imprisonment, greed, and a doomed journey home by Sally M. Walker. The 2018 Jefferson Cup Award winner for Young Readers is Before she was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome.

In Sinking the Sultana (Candlewick Press), Sally M. Walker immerses the reader in the lives of five Union Civil War soldiers and their journey home on the Sultana, a steamboat that was overcrowded and had faulty equipment. Walker introduces readers to the five men, the ship’s captain, and the rescue efforts and tries to answer the question of where to lay blame for the fire. With a vast array of historical documents, including diaries, newspapers, and pictures, Walker brings the reader close to the action to get inside the maritime disaster that was the Sultana.  



Before she was Harriet (Holiday House) by Lesa Cline-Ransome engages the reader in the life of Harriet Tubman, detailing the many important roles she played using lyrical verse and immersive watercolors to showcase each phase of her prolific life. The illustrations transport young readers to each time and place, emphasizing that continuation of racism as she rides on a segregated train.




Honor Titles

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School football team (Roaring Brook Press) by Steve Sheinkin and Locked up for freedom: Civil Rights protesters at the Lessburg Stockade (Millbrook Press) by Heather E. Schwartz were chosen as honor books for young adult readers.

Schomburg: the man who built a library (Candlewick Press) by Carole Boston Weatherford and The many reflections of Miss Jane Deming (Atheneum Books) by J. Anderson Coats were chosen as honor books for young readers.




Applications Now Open for 2018 JCLC Travel Grants from VLA


The Virginia Library Association is pleased to announce TWO conference travel grants to attend the 2018 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, September 26-30. The grant will help two people from an underrepresented and/or marginalized group attend the conference by providing $1,400 to be used for registration, travel, meals, and accommodations at the conference hotel. 

To be eligible to apply for a travel grant you must:

  • ​Be working in librarianship (professional or library support staff), pursing a job in librarianship, or be enrolled in an ALA accredited post-graduate program.
  • Be a 2018 member of the Virginia Library Association.
  • Identify as a member of a racial or ethnic minority in the United States, the LGBTQ+ community, or as a person with a disability. (Underrepresented and/or marginalized groups are identified in accordance with the ALA’s Office of Diversity recruitment resources.)

Applicants must also write a short statement (approximately 500 words) about why you would like to attend The 3rd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC). Please include how attending the conference will help you reach your professional goals, and a statement of need.

Applications will be accepted until May 18, 2018.

Applicants will be notified of the decision of the grant committee by June 4.


This travel grant was inspired by the travel grant that was awarded at The Innovative Library Classroom (TILC) conference this year.


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