News, announcements, updates, and happenings in the UVA Library

April is Arab American Heritage Month! Enjoy these recommendations of books and films by Arab American women.

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Wed, 04/10/2024 - 10:34

This April, the UVA Library honors National Arab American Heritage Month with selections of books and films by Arab American women. Leigh Rockey, Librarian for Collections Management and Video Resources, recommends the following titles.


Sajjilu Arab American: A Reader in SWANA StudiesSajjilu Arab American: A Reader in SWANA Studies,” edited by Louise Cainkar, Pauline Homsi Vinson, and Amira Jarmakani, published by Syracuse University Press (2022), offers curated, contextualized essays outlining the history and possible futures of scholarship regarding Arab peoples in the Americas. There is no definition of what Arab American studies and/or Southwest Asian/North African studies mean, and this collection of works, both foundational and speculative, wants to stretch beyond such questions. The (R)eader moves through six approaches to the examination of Arab American bodies, arts, literatures, representations, movements, and more. We learn about interpretations of Arab-ness, the structures of race generating from and imposed on Arab American communities, intersections of belonging or exclusion, and ultimately, solidarities. Anyone looking to newly engage or reconstitute an understanding of Arab American studies would benefit from the many perspectives in this excellent primer.

Bride of the SeaThe following two works of fiction won the Arab American Book Award, given by the Arab American National Museum in Michigan in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

If a mother takes her daughter and keeps her away from the rest of her family for years, does the daughter have two lives — the one she knows in America and the one she is missing in Saudi Arabia? This question, or something like it, forms the center of Eman Quotah’s “Bride of the Sea.” Family drama is universal, but it's the specificity of the clash between Hannah/Hanadi's American and Saudi Arabian families that so deeply intrigues the reader of this book. Throughout, emotions peak when Hannah/Hanadi's own voice breaks through the narrative as she remembers that her mother “stole” her, how they hid behind curtains and fake names, and what happened when she in turn took herself away from her mother. What is the true course of her life, and will she ever find it? As her father says, God willing, you will be with the ones you love.


The Stardust ThiefThe Stardust Thief” by Chelsea Abdullah, the first book of a forthcoming trilogy, offers tales within tales for lovers of storytelling. The reader follows the Midnight Merchant and her companions through enchanted cities and seas of sand to locate a certain lamp containing a powerful jinn. If you think you've heard this before (a la One Thousand and One Nights), you'd be wrong. While the book draws on familiar Arabian folktales, its story is fresh and quickly paced. Twisted truths, both delightful and harrowing, impact the literal and mystical routes the characters follow. Everyone is not what they seem, and the author crafts the cloaked identities so well that the reader might want to consume the book in one sitting.


“Jaddoland,” 2020

JaddolandFilmmaker Nadia Shihab's mother Lahib is Iraqi, lives in Lubbock, Texas, and she is an artist. These ingredients are all that's needed to make a fascinating documentary of a life communicated through art. What is often absent from the frame becomes the center of the film’s intentions. We see just the waving tale of a black cat, and we know that the cat is intrigued by something. We hear Shihab's grandfather respond to the question of whether he likes Texas with, "It is Texas," and we know that he longs for Iraq. Looking at the camera, Lahib tries to explain a painting while she works on it, but she eventually lets the art speak for itself, much as the film refrains from imposing meaning on every scene. At the end, we are surprised at Lahib's choices, and the portrait becomes obscured.

“The Feeling of Being Watched,” 2018

The Feeing of Being WatchedWe now know that the FBI launched Operation Vulgar Betrayal in the 1990s to investigate Muslim American residents of Bridgeview, Illinois, based on what seems to be little more than ethnic and religious profiling. Assia Boundaoui was a child in Bridgeview then, the daughter of Algerian parents, and her film tracks her own scrutiny of the FBI's intense surveillance of her hometown. She explains how such surveillance inculcates paranoia into an entire community and results in fear and willing subjugation of self. When she applies for information from the FBI under FOIA, she is denied. She wins a court case to have the documents of the operation released, and they reveal a sprawling, intense examination. It bears mentioning that no terrorism-related charges were ever filed against anyone involved. This film is a riveting examination of the outcome of the FBI's actions and Boundaoui's persistence in revealing the truth. We don’t know, though — is the government still watching?

‘Double Happiness’: Reception celebrating a new Shannon Library art installation set for April 12

By Molly Minturn | Tue, 04/09/2024 - 10:32

They are bright, eye-catching, inviting: eight colorful banners on the second floor of Shannon Library call out visitors with greetings and phrases in languages that represent the University’s Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian American (APISAA) community.

The art installation, titled “Double Happiness,” after a traditional Chinese ligature often used to symbolize marriage, was created by Amy Chan, an abstract painter and UVA Associate Professor of Studio Art. On April 12, the UVA community is invited to an art reception celebrating Chan’s installation, to be held in the study courts on the second floor of Shannon from 2 to 4 p.m. Remarks begin at 2:15 p.m. and light refreshments will be served.

Eight colorful banners hang in a lobby area of the library.
Amy Chan’s art installation, “Double Happiness,” is located on the second floor of Shannon Library. (All photos by Tom Daly)

For those who can’t visit the installation in person, the text on the banners reads, from left to right:

Ganbare, Japanese, to persevere
Double Happiness, Chinese, joy and unity
Hwaiting, Korean, you got this!
Padayon, Visayan dialect / Philippines, to carry on
Kya baat hai, Hindi, how amazing!
All places are ours and all people are our kin, Tamil
Andamu, Telugu, inner beauty
Sudah makan, Malaysian, have you eaten?

The initial idea for the work came from a group of APISAA undergraduate students who met with UVA Student Success Librarians Cecelia Parks and Haley Gillilan for weekly dinners during the fall 2022 semester. The purpose of those dinners was to give the students a place to discuss their experiences at UVA and to brainstorm ideas for how the Library could be more welcoming to their community. The installation will remain up through the Fall 2024 semester.

The students discussed how they would love to see more contemporary Asian or Asian American art in Library spaces,” said Parks. “They really liked the idea of a mural or another large-scale piece of public art in the renovated main library. … The end result is the beautiful display you see today,” Parks said.

Chan, Parks and Gillilan submitted a proposal for the installation to the newly formed Art in Library Spaces Committee, whose mission is “to create inclusive artistic spaces for University staff, faculty, and students as well as members of the Charlottesville community.” The committee includes members from not only the Library, but the Fralin Museum, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, UVA Arts and the School of Architecture, as well as members of the Charlottesville arts community. The “Double Happiness” proposal was the first one accepted by the committee. “Double Happiness” was also sponsored by UVA Arts and the Office of the Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts.

“We’re delighted that Professor Chan’s piece kicks off this important initiative and glad to have been connected to her work through Library staff committed to making student voices heard,” said Catalina Piatt-Esguerra, the Library’s Associate Dean for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility and Chair of the Art in Library Spaces Committee. “We hope that Art in Library Spaces continues to explore the ways visual display can contribute to inclusive space-making in Shannon Library.”

Ahead of the reception celebration, we spoke with Chan, Parks, and Gillilan, about “Double Happiness” and the experience of bringing a student idea to life. Our discussion is below.

Q. Can you walk me through the process of this art installation? How were the phrases chosen?

Chan: This piece was initiated by Haley and Cecelia, who conducted a focus group with APISAA students in which there was a clear desire to have more representation in public spaces. Representing the Asian American community has always been important to me, and I enjoy the new audiences that public projects allow my work to reach.

For this piece I reached out to numerous student organizations that serve the APISAA population at UVA with a call for sayings, colloquial phrases, or greetings that are important in their language of origin. I received some wonderful submissions and edited them down to eight, representing a range of languages. I chose phrases that were poetic, funny, and universal, in the hopes of connecting with the viewer’s own experience. My original intention was to combine imagery with the text, but I decided to let the text stand on its own.

Four colorful banners hang against a white wall. They read: Ganbare, Japanese, to persevere; Double Happiness, Chinese, joy and unity; Hwaiting, Korean, you got this!; Padayon, Visayan dialect / Philippines, to carry on
To create “Double Happiness,” Chan reached out to numerous student organizations that serve the APISAA population at UVA with a call for sayings, colloquial phrases, or greetings that are important in their language of origin.

Q. How did you decide which banners would be in English and which would be in the original languages?

Chan: This was an artistic decision. There are six panels with phonetic spellings or the original language, and two panels translated into English. The two I chose to translate stood out as the most poetic and moving. They are “double happiness” from Chinese, and “all places are ours and all people are our kin” from Tamil. I wanted the majority English speaking visitors to be able to engage with the spirit of these sentiments from afar and be drawn in to investigate the piece more fully. The six phonetic panels are phrases that represent more casual conversation.

I was also wary of having the piece look like one of those airport signs that translate the word “welcome” into many languages. It is important to me that the viewer can recognize the more expressive tone of the piece.

Q. What are the materials you used in creating the installation? And can you talk about your color choices and font choices?

Chan: The piece is digitally printed vinyl, constructed into eight scrolls. The installation format mimics the Chinese tradition of hanging scrolls in an interior space.

I love color and am influenced by the boldness of 1980s and ’90s popular culture. I am always exploring the edges of color harmony in my painting and that palette translates to what I’ve done here. Likewise, the bubble-like font offers a bit of humor to the piece, which is important in my work.

Q. What are some of your favorite pieces in the exhibition?

Parks: I don’t have a singular favorite piece. I love how bright and colorful and modern the panels are, and I love how they fit perfectly into the space. I love seeing how people react to it when they see it for the first time. Amy did an incredible job.

Gillilan: It’s also hard to say what my favorite piece in the exhibition is, because I think what makes it so gorgeous is how all the colorful panels fit together. I am a little partial to the Japanese phrase, “ganbare,” because I have Japanese heritage. Sending a picture of the piece to my Japanese American mother was a really special moment. I’m hoping she can see it in person soon! I agree with Cecelia, it has been so emotionally resonant to watch people walk onto the second floor of the library and stop in their tracks to observe the art. 

Four colorful banners hang against a white white. They read: Kya baat hai, Hindi, how amazing!; All places are ours and all people are our kin, Tamil; Andamu, Telugu, inner beauty; Sudah makan, Malaysian, have you eaten?
There are six panels in “Double Happiness” with phonetic spellings or the original language, and two panels translated into English. “The two I chose to translate stood out as the most poetic and moving,” Chan said.

Q. What would you most like visitors to know about this installation?

Chan: “Double Happiness” is a celebration of the joy we find through connection, and a reminder of home that we share with the UVA community. I am very grateful for to all the wonderful people at the Library who have helped me create this piece.

Q. Anything else you’d like to add?

Gillilan: Working with Amy has been a privilege. I love that we were able to include an artist in the UVA community for this project. It’s also been incredibly meaningful to bring a student idea to life. The students we worked with were so perceptive and passionate. It was a formative experience to hear their feedback, and to work to incorporate their perspective into remarkable change in our library space. 

Participants selected for 2024 Archives Leadership Institute at the University of Virginia

By UVA Library | Fri, 04/05/2024 - 10:12

In a competitive application process, 25 archivists have been selected as participants in the 2024 Archives Leadership Institute (ALI).

ALI is a grant program funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The ALI will be hosted at the University of Virginia for the years 2024-2026, and will provide advanced training for 25 archivists and memory workers, giving them the knowledge and tools to transform the archival profession in theory, practice, stewardship, and care. In support of the project, the University of Virginia Library was awarded $300,000 by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the granting agency of the National Archives and Records Administration.  

Participants were selected for the 2024 ALI@Virginia program based on their exceptional skills and potential, their ability to influence change within the archival field, a strong commitment to the archival profession, demonstrated professional organizational involvement and service, a collaborative and innovative spirit, and representation and/or support of diversity within the profession.

The Archives Leadership Institute held at the University of Virginia is a weeklong immersion program that embraces a distraction-free, focused opportunity for archival leaders to develop necessary theories, skills, and knowledge. Participants will engage in classroom and experiential learning focusing on individual growth, building capacity as a leader, organizational leadership, and responsible stewardship and partnerships. The ALI@Virginia experience will be grounded in context and place. Thus, the cohort will explore leadership through the lens of the unique emotional and historical landscape that the University of Virginia offers.

“We’re grateful to the NHPRC to have this opportunity in the UVA Library to build on the ALI traditions of an intensive, immersive, interactive, and inspiring leadership experience,” said Associate University Librarian for Special Collections Brenda Gunn, who is the director of the Institute. “Our faculty will bring a wealth of experience to our core topics of Self Knowledge and Individual Growth, Organizational Leadership, and Responsible Stewardship and Partnerships.”

“In building this iteration of ALI, the fifth one since 2008, the steering committee envisioned welcoming memory workers who have an appetite for moving our professions forward, who want to be responsible to their communities, and who desire to lead their organizations with empathy and compassion.” 

Archives Leadership Institute 2024 cohort

  • Amber L. Moore, Atlanta University Center
  • Andrea Battleground, Archives for Film at Lincoln Center
  • Arnetta Girardeau, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • Beaudry Rae Allen, Villanova University
  • Betts Coup, Harvard University
  • Brittany Newberry, Georgia State University
  • Chianta Dorsey, Chicago Public Library
  • David Castillo, National Archives and Records Administration
  • Elisabeth B. Seelinger, United States Senate
  • Emily Jones, Gates Archive
  • Isaac Fellman, GLBT Historical Society
  • J.E. Molly Seegers, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Jaimi Parker, Tarrant County (TX) Office of Historic Preservation and Archives
  • Jessica L. Webster, Baruch College, City University of New York
  • Joy Novak, Washington University
  • LaToya Devezin, National Archives and Records Administration
  • Laurel McPhee, University of California, San Diego
  • Lisa Nguyen, University of California, San Francisco
  • Liza Posas, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
  • Lolita Rowe, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Rachel Winston, University of Texas at Austin
  • Samantha Bradbeer Stephens, Hallmark Cards, Inc.
  • Samantha Crisp, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
  • Sandy Rodriguez, University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Selena Ortega-Chiolero, Chickaloon Village Traditional Council

Read full participant biographies or learn more about the Archives Leadership Institute on the ALI website,

Join us for the grand opening!

By UVA Library | Tue, 04/02/2024 - 12:42

All are welcome to join on Thursday, April 4 for a grand opening celebration of The Edgar Shannon Library

Welcome to Edgar Shannon Library

An open house, with activities from various Library areas and departments, will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Activities will include interactive demonstrations, special displays of Library collections, virtual reality, and more!

A bright, open space shows a balcony overlooking a lower floor. Both spaces are full of book shelves and natural light.Remarks will begin at 4 p.m., and speakers include University Librarian John Unsworth; UVA President Jim Ryan; State Senator Creigh Deeds; Vice Rector Carlos Brown; Professor Larry Sabato; Professor Emeritus Jerome McGann; and Lois Shannon, of the Edgar Shannon family.

Everyone is welcome to stay for a reception afterwards in the Z Society Reading Room on the second floor.

Events throughout the day include:

More events are still being added! See the full schedule, or learn more about the beautiful Edgar Shannon Library. We hope to see you on April 4!

An in-depth look at the new library

By Jeff Hill | Wed, 03/27/2024 - 14:05

After being closed for nearly four years, Alderman Library — now The Edgar Shannon Library — reopened in early January, with 100,000 square feet of renovated space and 130,000 square feet of new construction replacing the previous stacks towers. Now that the semester is well underway, the library is already experiencing heavy traffic as users explore and enjoy the new building (check out this Cavalier Daily article for the student point of view). Photographer Tom Daly captured a few of the spaces on and just prior to opening day. In advance of our grand opening celebration on April 4, enjoy this photo essay of the renovated library!

A group of people walking out of a vestibule and pouring into a large room. The room has light fixtures on long chains hanging from very high ceilings, and black and white checkered floors.
Although the library opened before the regular semester began, there was still a small crowd waiting to be let in. Promptly at 9 a.m. the doors automatically unlocked, and the group poured in through the vestibule.
Wide lens view showing a huge room with light fixtures on long chains hanging from a high ceiling, black and white checkered floors, and a variety of seating options.
Memorial Hall, the main lobby on the south side of the building, has been completely refurbished. In addition to the three new doors and vestibule, there’s a much larger Service & Information Desk and a variety of seating with room for flexibility. The checkered flooring the room originally sported when it opened in 1938 is back — but now made of sustainable tile with acoustic advantages.
Long view looking down a reading room with black and white checkered floors and wooden chairs accompanying long wooden tables with 2 lamps on each table.
The Reference, Periodicals, and Oversize Room retains an old-school reading room flavor. The ceilings have been raised and the walls have been painted a warm yellow which, along with the windows lining the east wall, give the room a lighter feel than it previously enjoyed. Much of the furniture in this room was refurbished by the same company that built it more than 85 years ago, Virginia Craftsmen of Harrisonburg.
A student taking a photograph in a brightly lit library space with shelving and a row of wooden tables and chairs.
Shannon Library features a clerestory — a raised section of the roof with windows — that allows natural light to flow down into the fifth and fourth floors. This area on the fourth floor beneath the clerestory has proven to be a popular place to take photos.
People, some seated, some walking, in a brightly lit library with shelving, multiple windows, and an aperture in the floor surrounded by a railing.
The fifth floor stacks area beneath the clerestory features an aperture in the floor surrounded by a railing. The cast iron panel in the center of the photo was one of many once in the Rotunda — they lined the Dome Room gallery. The windows in the clerestory, as well as other windows in the building, are now treated with UV protection on the glass so collections won’t be damaged by the natural light.
An open seating space in a library with wooden tables and chairs, as well as armchairs and low coffee-table style tables.
This is the building’s fifth floor, but this open central area is mirrored on the other four floors as well (but not the basement, which doesn’t contain public areas). The spaces mostly contain a mixture of seating types, and there’s easy access to elevators and stairs. The setup also allows Library staff the flexibility to see how the space is being used and modify accordingly once the building has been “lived in” for a while.
A person wearing a backpack and carrying a tote bag squats, reading, in front of a shelf of books in a library.
Shelving on the library’s fifth floor. Shannon Library, along with stacks on the first floor of Clemons, holds the University’s social sciences and humanities collection. The books, moved out of the building for the duration of the renovation (mostly to Ivy Stacks), are moving back in over the course of the spring 2024 semester.
A reading room in a library with parquet-style floors and a double-height ceiling. Shelving can be seen in the background and seating on the floor above behind a railing looks down into the room.
The north end of the new construction has large reading rooms on the second, third, and fourth floors. This is the fourth floor reading room, which features a high ceiling with double-height windows, and looks up to seating on the floor above.
2 area rugs with tables and soft seating on each rug create 2 separate sitting areas in a large room. The room has a fireplace, large windows, chandeliers, and shelving on either side of the fireplace.
Prior to the renovation, this comfortable third floor space was most recently the Current Journals Room. With journals and periodicals moving to the fourth floor, the shelving was removed and replaced with soft seating and tables and the room was reimagined as the Graduate Student Lounge. The space also features a kitchenette and lockers, and is exclusively for the use of UVA graduate students and their guests.
View down an aisle between two rows of compact or mobile shelving, with handles on the end of each range of shelving.
Stacks on Shannon's first and third floors feature compact mobile shelving. The shelving units are fitted with wheeled traction systems and are easily moved with rotary handles, allowing for more books to be held in the same footprint than with traditional shelving.
View in the interior of a building looking down several floors from the center of a stairway with landings at right angles to the steps.
In addition to stairs on the northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest of the building, there is also a large central staircase. Bright, open, and easy-to-use, the staircase greatly improves the flow of people within the building and represents a huge improvement from the “submarine stairs” in the stacks pre-renovation, which were dimly lit, featured heavy swinging doors, and were so narrow users had to wait at the landings or turn sideways to pass each other going up and down.
A wall painted a honey mustard yellow with two stainless steel elevator doors side by side.
Two elevators side by side may not look like much, but like the central staircase they greatly improve mobility as thousands of people per day use the building. These are in the center of the building opposite the staircase, and there’s another elevator on the north end allowing visitors coming in from the second floor entrances to easily travel up and down.
A person walks through an interior tunnel connecting two buildings. A sign in the foreground says “Connector to Alderman Library this way.”
In addition to movement within the building, there’s also a vast improvement of movement between buildings, as a new internal passageway connects directly with Clemons Library. Library materials can also move back and forth — they’ll just need to be checked out before users take them outdoors.
A row of books on a shelf showing the spines, of various colors/ages/designs and in various states of disrepair.
A row of books awaiting repair in the Preservation Services department. Preservation Services has all-new labs in the building for the conservation of books, manuscripts, maps, and other printed matter, as well as audiovisual material and digital media.
A large bright classroom full of students sitting at tables while a person stands at a lectern in front of a screen. On the lectern is a “UVA Library” logo.
The new library has a large “Seminar Room” on the east side of the building, looking out towards the Chapel. On opening day, it was already in use as Teaching and Learning Librarian Todd Burks hosted a group of high school students from Tandem Friends School in Charlottesville, to introduce them to using college-level resources for a research assignment.
A large but cozy-looking wood paneled room with people sitting in soft seating. The room also has bookshelves, tables, and a fireplace.
The much-loved McGregor Room has been refurbished but maintains its cozy feel. Originally built in 1939 to house the Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History, it grew to hold the library’s special collections, and became a general reading room when those materials moved to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library in 2004. 
A room with shelving and mid-century modern chairs and tables. At the end of a room a person sits in a chair in front of a pair of windows between two very large yellow vases.
Formerly the Asian Studies Room, this elegant space in the building’s east wing was dedicated as the Stanley and Lucie Weinstein Buddhist and Asian Studies Library in 2019, after a bequest from the Weinsteins made UVA a major holder of materials in that field. Books will fill the shelves by the midpoint of the spring 2024 semester. The large vases flanking the windows are from the Library’s Fine and Decorative Arts Collection.
Archival boxes line shelves in a bright white room. On the wall hangs a poster that says “Flowerdew Hundred: A day in the country lasts 400 years” and shows drawings of a windmill with a colonial-era person leading a horse, people wearing shorts and t-shirts excavating an archaeological site, and artifacts such as pottery and pipes.
Shannon Library's basement includes closed collections spaces, including the Flowerdew Hundred Collections Lab, which is open to students, researchers, and visitors by appointment. Flowerdew Hundred, on the James River, was at various times the site of Native American villages, a frontier settlement, a plantation, and a Civil War encampment. The archaeological collections from the site were donated to the UVA Library and the space is used to preserve, catalog, and study the artifacts and make them accessible for research.
A courtyard showing brick walls and a mixture of wooden tables and chairs and soft seating, under a skylight.
The building’s original design included two light wells meant to afford light and ventilation, but prior to the renovation the floor of the light courts was open to the elements and closed to visitors. These have been redesigned and are now two second-floor study courts under skylights. With seating for dozens, the courts have already become popular places for reading, study, and light socializing.
A row of card catalog drawers line the left side of a hallway, which is broken by an opening. At the end of the hallway are two doors, and the space is lighted by fixtures hanging from the ceiling down its length.
Opposite and on either side of the second-floor Service & Information Desk are rows of card catalog drawer faces, a nod to the building’s past. They will become a donor wall, listing the names of major donors to the renovation project, and/or those who donors chose to give in honor or in memory of.
A blue flag with a University of Virginia logo attached to a pole is in the foreground of a photo showing a multiple-story brick building with white pilasters between large arched windows, many smaller windows, and stairs leading up to terrace space.
A UVA flag flies outside the second floor north entrance to the building. With two doors on opposite sides of a large terrace connecting to a portico on the west, this new entry just yards from University Avenue affords an open, welcoming approach to the library and Central Grounds.


Before and after: looking at the library pre- and post-renovation

By Molly Minturn | Thu, 03/21/2024 - 09:41

In advance of the grand opening celebration of The Edgar Shannon Library on April 4, we’re taking a deep dive into historical photos of the building and comparing them with the renovated space today.

As a quick overview, the library renewal project, designed by HBRA Architects, began with a 100,000-square-foot renovation of the original, 1938 Alderman Library structure. The renovation also included the demolition of the Old and New Stacks, replaced with a 130,000-square-foot, five-story addition (with one additional level below grade) on the north side of the building.

A major goal of the renovation was to create a light-filled, easily accessible study space for our users, while bringing the library up to current standards of safety and service. At the same time, the Office of the Architect of the University and Facilities Management took great care to maintain the characteristics of the existing historic interior features, as the original 1938 Alderman Library, a Public Works Administration project, was a treasured landmark at the University.

For those wondering about the fate of all of those books in the Old and New Stacks, Shannon Library contains high-density shelving on the first and third floors, with conventional library stacks on floors 4 and 5. The number of volumes expected to be put in place in Shannon and Clemons (combined) over the next six months is 1.2 million. However, this isn’t the full capacity of the shelving, as UVA Library is making sure to allow for growth of the collection over the next several years.

Take a look at beloved library spaces, before and after the renovation, in the photos below.

On the left: a black-and-white photo of a large room with a checkered floor, large arched windows, card catalogs, and a large desk with librarians behind it. On the right, the same room today in a color photograph. The card catalogs are gone and the reference desk is now circular and to the left. A lounge area with couches and chairs is towards the front of the room.
Memorial Hall in 1938 (left, University of Virginia Visual History Collection) and in January 2024 (right, Tom Daly).

Memorial Hall is the largest room in the library and was built as a memorial to the University’s first president, Edwin Alderman, after whom the library was originally named. (In February, the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors voted to change the name of Alderman Library to The Edgar Shannon Library in honor of UVA’s fourth president.) As seen in the 1938 photograph, Memorial Hall originally housed the library’s card catalogs. The tall structure behind the librarians contained the Snead Book Conveyor, a delivery system that brought books from the closed stacks to the circulation desk.

The renovation restored Memorial Hall to look more like it did in 1938 than in 2019. Its vinyl tile and carpet was replaced with new linoleum tiles to match the original checkered floor. Workers restored the windows and light fixtures, replaced and expanded the exterior doors, and replaced the ceiling. A renovated hallway beside the new Service & Information Desk now leads patrons to open, light-filled stacks.

On the left, a black-and-white photo of a large library room with Persian rugs, wooden built-in bookshleves full of books, couches, and glass display cases with manuscripts inside. An ornate chandelier hangs from the ceiling. On the right, the same room in a color photograph today. The room looks much the same, but the rugs and furniture have been replaced with newer versions, and dsiplay cases are gone, and students are sitting and studying in the room.
The McGregor Room in 1978 (left, University of Virginia Visual History Collection) and on Jan. 8, 2024 (right, Tom Daly).

The McGregor Room houses the book collection of Detroit philanthropist Tracy W. McGregor — 12,500 items focused on American history, geography, and literature — that was donated to UVA Library in 1938. Located in the library’s east wing on the second floor, the McGregor Room, which originally opened for use in April 1939, was also the home to UVA’s Special Collections until 2004. In the black-and-white photo from 1978, Special Collections items are displayed in glass cases for exhibition. Today, the room is a popular study hub for students, and is affectionally referred to by some as the “Harry Potter Room.” The vault for the original Special Collections remains on the east side of the room.

Although the McGregor Room looks much the same as it did before the renovation, it was refreshed with a new HVAC system, restored windows, refurbished light fixtures, a refinished wood parquet floor, restored millwork paneling and built-in shelving, and a new acoustical plaster monolithic ceiling.

On the left, a black-and white rendering of a large building with a new wing added on the back. The nine-story addition is modernist with few windows, amde of brick. On the right, a color photograph of the same building today. The modernist wing has been removed and replaced with a new addition with large arched windows, two entrance doors to the building, and a patio out front.
Rendering of the New Stacks, 1964 (left, University of Virginia Visual History Collection) and the new north entrance to Shannon Library, 2024 (right, Library Communications).

The nine-story “New Stacks” addition was added to Alderman Library in 1967. Architect J. Russell Bailey gave the New Stacks exterior a modern design, following the mid-twentieth-century trend of “emphasizing the clear expression of function and the use of modern materials,” according to the 2015 Quinn Anderson Alderman Library Historic Features Survey.

These stacks were torn down in the renovation and replaced with a new, 130,000-square-foot addition on the north side of the existing building. This addition includes a new entrance to the building located on University Avenue so that the library is no longer seemingly closed off to the outside community. 

On the left, a color photograph of a long hallway of stacks filled with books. The ceiling is low with flourescent lighting. On the right, the same space, now transformed into open stacks beneath clerestory windows, with large arched windows at the back of the building. Students walk among the stacks.
An interior shot of the New Stacks in the library before the renovation (left, Library Communications); the stacks on Shannon Library’s fifth floor in the new addition where the New Stacks once were (right, Tom Daly).

The 1967 New Stacks addition used columns (rather than a structural bookshelf system) to form the layout of shelves inside the building. As many alumni might remember, single-occupancy desks were placed along the walls, where students could peer out through small, slit-like windows.

The renovation included the complete demolition of not only the New Stacks, but of the 1938 Old Stacks and its adjacent wings as well. The new addition, built on the approximate footprint of the demolished areas, contains open stacks under clerestory windows, large reading rooms, and sun-filled study carrels on the north side of the building. One goal of the renovation was to bring as much natural light into the building as possible.

On the left, a black-and-white photo of a large room with checkered floors. Roughly 25 tables with study chairs fill the room in parallel rows. Built-in bookshelves line the walls and flush-mount dome lights hang overhead. On the right, a color photograph of the same room today. The floor is the same, the furniture is similar but restored and more spread out. The bookshelves have been removed from the walls and instead are perpendicular to the walls toward the back. The dome lights have been replaced with recessed lighting in the ceiling, and natural sunlight streams through multiple windows on each side of the room.
On the left, what was then known as the General Reading Room in 1939 (Ralph Holsinger/UVA Special Collections). On the right: the Reference, Periodicals, & Oversize Room in January 2024, the day the library reopened to the public (Tom Daly).

Located on the fourth floor in the east wing, the Reference Room, with its long tables and ample sunlight, is a popular study spot for students. In the renovation, workers restored the windows and the original checkered floor, provided a new HVAC system and new lighting, and added a new dropped ceiling of plaster and acoustic tile. The bookshelves, empty on reopening day, are now mostly filled with reference materials.

On the left, a black-and white image of a library room with large, single-hung windows affized with heavy curtains, several large study tables, built-in bookshelves, a Persian rug and several chairs and couches. Brass light fixtures hang from the ceiling. Young men in 1930s dress study in the room. On the right, a color photograph of the same room today. Much of the room is the same, but the curtains have been removed, the walls and floor restored, and the tables replaced with comfortable, elegant furniture.
On the left, the Browsing Room (later known as the Current Journals Room) in 1939 (University of Virginia Visual History Collection). On the right, the same room today, now the Graduate Student Lounge (Library Communications).

When the library first opened, this third-floor room was known as the Browsing Room and was designed for “the occasional and leisurely reading of magazines and of interesting books new and old,” according to a 1938 “Alumni News” story. Six varying types of light fixtures were designed for this space, including two hand-blown glass hurricanes attached to a decorative cast brass spine. Wherever possible, the historic, original light fixtures were refurbished during the renovation.

Today this room is the Graduate Student Lounge, available only to graduate students for a quiet place to study. The room includes a new kitchen lounge and locker area as well. Additional renovations to the room include restored windows and finishes; new flooring; a new plaster ceiling; a new HVAC system; and all new power, including new floor boxes. The journals and periodicals that were held in this space before the renovation can now be found in the Reference Room on the fourth floor.

On the left, a view through a window of an exterior brick courtyard in the center of the library. The open sky is visible at the top of the photo. On the right, the same space today, now renovated to be study courts enclosed by massive skylights with new flooring and restored brick.
On the left, a view of the building’s outdoor light courts during the renovation, seen through a window (Library Communications). On the right, the renovated study courts, located on Shannon Library’s second floor (Tom Daly).

Before the renovation, Alderman Library contained an open light court at its center, with a multi-story bridge connecting the north and south blocks of the building. This outdoor space was rarely used and often filled with leaves and debris.

One of the more dazzling aspects of the renovation was the transformation of this space into study courts, now located on the second floor of the library. To enclose the light courts, workers added a new stone floor on the second level of the building, restored the exposed brick walls, and capped the space with skylights at the fourth-floor level.

We hope you will join us on April 4 for Shannon Library's official grand opening and take a tour of the renovated building.

Sources for facts about the renovation:

The HBRA Architects with Clark Nexsen Preliminary Design/Basis of Design Report, 2018.

The Quinn Anderson Alderman Library Historic Features Survey, 2015.

Celebrate Women’s History Month on the big screen!

By UVA Library | Thu, 02/29/2024 - 16:59

This year’s Women’s History Month blog post focuses on another big event that happens every spring: The Oscars! Below, librarians Anne Causey and Cecelia Parks share books, films, and archival material related to women involved in this year’s Oscar-nominated films and lesser-known women actors and filmmakers through Hollywood history.

Filmmakers On Film: 2, Editors on Editing” (2014), directed by Ally Acker

Two of this year’s nominees for Best Film Editing are women: Thelma Schoonmaker, for “Killers of the Flower Moon”, and Jennifer Lame for “Oppenheimer.” This documentary features interviews with other prominent female film editors. These editors are part of a long tradition of women editors; though women have historically been excluded from many filmmaking roles, the editor role has been more open to them.

View “Filmmakers On Film: 2, Editors on Editing” in Virgo.

Contemporary Black Women Filmmakers and the Art of Resistance” (2018), by Christina N. Baker

Only five Black people were nominated for Oscars this year, two of whom are women. All were nominated for acting awards. Very few Black women have been nominated for non-acting Oscars, and even fewer have won. In her book, Baker analyzes the portrayal of Black women by Black women filmmakers such as Ava DuVernay, Tanya Hamilton, Kasi Lemmons, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Dee Rees to explore how they create and recreate images of Black femaleness in their work.

View “Contemporary Black Women Filmmakers and the Art of Resistance” in Virgo.

Go West, Young Women!: The Rise of Early Hollywood” (2013), by Hilary Hallett

Hallet focuses on early Hollywood and its appeal especially to women. Migrants, especially women, flocked to Hollywood, enticed by the dream of interesting work, romantic adventure, and the chance to reinvent oneself. In 1920, Hollywood had more women than men, unlike other western cities. Soon, women made up most of the audience and it followed that films catered to them. Without particular education or training, a woman could dream of becoming a Mary Pickford or a Gloria Swanson or any number of other women who had influence and power as writers, directors, actresses, producers, and publicists.

View “Go West, Young Women!: The Rise of Early Hollywood” in Virgo.

Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll” (1994), by M.G. Lord

“Barbie,” directed by Greta Gerwig, has been one of the top films of 2023 and is nominated for multiple awards, including Best Picture. Lord’s “Forever Barbie” tells the story behind the doll that inspired the film, charting Barbie’s development, success, and her intersections with popular culture and feminist thought.

View “Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll” in Virgo.

Killing the Indian Maiden: Images of Native American Women in Film” (2006), by M. Elise Marubbio

Lily Gladstone is nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role as Mollie Burkhart in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which is about a series of murders in the Osage Nation in the 1920s.  In “Killing the Indian Maiden,” Marubbio examines the portrayal of Native American women in films that preceded “Killers of the Flower Moon” and argues that Native American women have historically been depicted in self-sacrificial roles in which they align themselves with a white male hero and die.

View “Killing the Indian Maiden: Images of Native American Women in Film” in Virgo.

Nobody’s Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood” (2018), by J. E. Smyth.

Smyth challenges the stereotype of studio-era Hollywood as an all-boys club that disenfranchised women. She sets out to prove that there were instead diverse opportunities open to women in the Hollywood of the 1930s and 1940s, enabling women to work as executives, directors, producers,  writers, film and sound editors, make up artists, etc. It meant that Hollywood was actually ahead of many other industries in regard to women’s work and equality — women had significant power and influence in the film industry.

View “Nobody’s Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood” in Virgo.

Starring Red Wing!: The Incredible Career of Lilian M. St. Cyr, the First Native American Film Star” (2019), by Linda M. Waggoner.

This biography is about one of the earliest Native American women to star in the early film era. Between 1908 to 1917, she was in at least 70 silent films. Her best known roll was that of Naturitch in Cecile B. DeMille’s first film, “Squaw Man.” Red Wing, born on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska (officially Ho-Chunk) was a “writer, prop maker, costume designer, a cultural consultant and her own incredible stunt woman.”

View “Starring Red Wing!: The Incredible Career of Lilian M. St. Cyr, the First Native American Film Star” in Virgo.

The Color Purple” (1982), by Alice Walker

Danielle Brooks is nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Sofia in the new musical film version of “The Color Purple.” The film is based on Walker’s 1982 novel, which tells the story of Celie, a young Black woman in early-twentieth-century Georgia. This Black queer classic won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1983. Trigger warning: this book contains themes of sexual assault.

View “The Color Purple” in Virgo.

“Regeneration: a Romance of the South Seas” (1923), produced by the Norman Film Mfg. Company

Eight un-numbered, illustrations or “posters,” of this silent film are housed in UVA’s Special Collections Library. White film maker Richard Norman established his company in Jacksonville, Florida, and created several films starring all-Black casts. Regeneration was his most successful — watched by white and Black audiences alike. The only female in the cast, Stella Mayo, was promoted as the “Sensational Colored Screen Beauty.” Mayo was new to the film industry and dropped back into obscurity afterwards. Only one reel of the film exists today, at the Library of Congress, though a clip can be found online.


Board of Visitors votes to name renovated library The Edgar Shannon Library

By UVA Library | Thu, 02/29/2024 - 10:43
A nighttime photo of multistory brick building with large windows illuminated from within.
A new entrance to The Edgar Shannon Library makes the building easily reachable from the growing northern corridor along University Avenue. (Library Communications photo)

The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors voted today to name the University’s newly renovated main library The Edgar Shannon Library, in honor of UVA’s fourth president.

The building originally opened in 1938 and was formerly named for UVA’s first president, Edwin A. Alderman. “As the University recently completed an extensive major project to create a modern, state-of-the art main library through completely renovating the historic portion of the facility ... it is presented with an opportunity to recognize another past president,” the BOV’s Building and Grounds Committee wrote in its agenda for the library’s renaming.

Edgar Shannon: UVA’s fourth president

A black and white photo of a white, middle-aged man (Edgar Shannon) in academic robes standing at a podium and speaking into a microphone.
Edgar Shannon speaking at Valedictory Exercises, 1974. (David Skinner/UVA Special Collections/ Call Number: RG-5/7/2.821)

Edgar Finley Shannon, Jr. was born in Lexington, Virginia, in 1918. Before leading UVA from 1959 to 1974, he served in the U.S. Navy as a junior gunnery officer during World War II and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University where he received a Ph.D. in 1949. As UVA’s fourth president, he oversaw the institution during times of major political and social upheaval. Under his leadership, UVA instituted coeducation and racial integration. During that time, enrollment rose from 5,000 students to 15,000 as UVA, under a strategic plan Shannon developed, grew to become a nationally recognized research university.

According to the New York Times, Shannon is perhaps best known for his “dramatic stance” against the Vietnam War during his UVA presidency:

In 1970, after the United States drive into Cambodia and the shooting of student protesters at Kent State University by National Guardsmen, unrest mounted on the Virginia campus. Students boycotted classes, occupied the Reserve Officers Training Corps building, set fires and blocked traffic. …


Addressing 4,000 protesters gathered on the central lawn of the university, Mr. Shannon was at first jeered but soon won the crowd’s attention as he spoke of sharing their anguish over the killings at Kent State and of his passionate opposition to the war. Then, after leading the students and faculty in signing telegrams to Virginia’s two senators pressing them to stop the fighting in Southeast Asia, he was cheered.


Later, Mr. Shannon was denounced by some university alumni and a few newspapers in the area called for his dismissal. But the university’s governing board supported him, noting that he had kept the university open and free of violence when many other colleges and universities were forced to send students home.


At the commencement exercises that year, Mr. Shannon received a standing ovation as he rose to speak.

Those interested in Shannon’s leadership and legacy can find records of his administration in the Small Special Collections Library, which holds more than 100 boxes of his official papers. Other collections provide insight into the contributions of student activists in moving the University towards progress — particularly the May Strike of 1970 in reaction to Kent State and the escalation of the Vietnam War, and also the significant advocacy of the Black Student Alliance for integration, equity, and support in the 1960-70s. Plan a visit to Special Collections here. Or read more about Shannon in UVA Today.

Grand Opening celebration will be in April

The library reopened to the public on January 8, 2024. The renovation brought the building up to current standards of safety, accessibility, and service and features beautiful, naturally lit study and research spaces. Books and materials will continue to be moved into the space throughout the spring semester. A grand opening celebration will be held in the Shannon Library on April 4, 2024; details about that event are forthcoming.

“Stolen books,” bad faith, and fair use

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Tue, 02/27/2024 - 15:32

It’s Fair Use Week! UVA Library’s Director of Information Policy, Brandon Butler, penned a piece for Harvard’s Fair Use Week series titled, “‘Stolen Books,’ Bad Faith, and Fair Use.” The piece examines the origins of AI training data and its intersections with court cases such as those around HathiTrust and Google Books. He writes: 

Artificial intelligence is sure to be the hottest topic of this year’s Fair Use Week, and that hotness is well-deserved. It’s startling when a machine can instantly create written or visual works that would ordinarily require a skilled human writer or artist.

Fair use analysis is (famously) case-by-case, and the outcome of a fair use analysis for any particular AI technology will depend on how that technology works and (especially) the nature of its outputs and the purposes it serves. But we know from the Google Books and HathiTrust cases that some unlicensed computer processing of large datasets of in-copyright works is clearly fair use. Some AI technologies are sure to pass the fair use test from those cases, all else equal. But there is one interesting difference between HathiTrust and Google Books on one hand, and some of the AI tools being sued on the other: the books used in the former cases were lawfully owned by libraries and scanned with the libraries’ consent. It’s not clear that the AI companies have obtained all of their data with as clear a pedigree.

Indeed, one of the author class action lawsuits over AI argues that the datasets used to train some artificial intelligence tools are comprised partly or entirely of material of apparently dubious origin. As The Verge reports, the plaintiffs claim that some of the AI training data “were acquired from ‘shadow library’ websites like Bibliotik, Library Genesis, Z-Library, and others, noting the books are ‘available in bulk via torrent systems.’” Does this matter for the fair use calculus? Should it?

Read the full article from Harvard’s Fair Use Week blog.

For more Fair Use Week content, like “Fair Use Week 2024: The Taper’s Greatest Fair Use Hits, and a Taper Swan Song, visit The Taper.

fair use week | fair dealing week


From eclipse prep to Pi Day: Here are 5 upcoming events at UVA Library

By Molly Minturn | Sun, 02/25/2024 - 21:24

The University of Virginia Library has nearly five million print books available for checkout, five million e-books, myriad cozy study spaces, and a slew of teaching librarians to help you in the classroom or with research. And did you know we also offer events ranging from workshops to musical events for UVA and the Charlottesville community throughout the year?

Below, check out five upcoming events for those who love reading, crafting, eclipses, and more. All Library events are free.

1. DIVERSIFY IT!” Reading Challenge

A blue box with three words inside in white and orange font: "Read Diverse Books"Inspired by the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! reading challenge in elementary schools, we’re hosting a higher education remix to encourage UVA students, faculty, and staff to read diverse stories. Each month we’ll be hosting themed pop-up libraries within the School of Education and Human Development that include children’s, young adult, and adult books. For February we are celebrating Black authors! Everyone who checks out a book from our February pop-up library will receive a “Free People Read Freely” bookmark.

Each month you will get a stamp on your “DIVERSIFY IT!” challenge card if you check out a book. At the end of the semester, if you have checked out at least one book each month from our pop-up libraries, you'll receive a special prize and we’ll celebrate with a pizza party!

  • When: Tuesday, Feb. 27; 12 – 3 p.m.
  • Where: Ridley Hall Lobby

2. Prepare for the April 8th Total Solar Eclipse!

A rendering of a solar eclipse. The caption on the rendering reads: "Howard Russell Butler - Solar Eclipse, 1918 From Baker, Oregon Eclipse Expedition, led by Samuel Alfred Mitchell Collection of Leander McCormick Observatory"On April 8th there will be a total eclipse of the sun visible from the United States, the last one until 2045. If you viewed the last U.S. total solar eclipse in August 2017, the April 8th eclipse will appear markedly different at totality because the sun is in a period of much greater activity. In addition, this eclipse will last longer, and will cover a wider path, as well as covering a more populated swath of the US.

To help you prepare for the eclipse, Professor Edward Murphy from UVA’s Department of Astronomy will give a lecture and demonstrate safe solar observing on Tuesday, February 27. During the program, we will discuss what to expect during the eclipse, where to go see the eclipse if you can travel to it, and how to safely observe the eclipse. (This event is part of the STEM for Everyone lecture series.)

3. Alderman Library Re-Orientation

A large lobby/main hall in Alderman Library. The floor is checkered, large light fixtures hang from the ceiling, sunlight streams through large windows. Tables with public computers and couches and chairs dot the room.We’re back and better than ever! Join Education and Social Science Research Librarian, Ashley Hosbach-Wallman, for a tour of the new spaces in Alderman Library. This tour will cover the history of library design at UVA and all of the new study spaces and services open to students (both undergraduate and graduate). We'll meet in the main lobby to get started.

This tour is a joint initiative between the UVA Library and the School of Education and Human Development’s student affairs office.

4. Pi Day Maker Craft

A lemon pie with the number/mathematical constant pi (3.14159 ...) written in frosting around the border/circumference of the pie.Make a Pi Day craft to celebrate the best holiday a-round!

Register to secure your spot, or drop in to the Scholars’ Lab Makerspace anytime between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, to make a craft. And dig in to some FREE pie while supplies last!

The Scholars’ Lab Makerspace is located in Alderman Library on the third floor (308i).
See here for Makerspace hours and a map.

5. AI Tools Beyond ChatGPT

An illustration showing four different kinds of charts/graphs: a stacked column chart, small multiples, a bubble chart, and a bump area chart.ChatGPT exploded on the scene and has been the focus of much of the conversation around AI and AI tools. But there are a host of others that offer similar functions but are trained on different corpuses and many tools that offer different functionalities. In this workshop, we’ll cover a variety of AI tools including Bard, Claude, Copilot, and more.

If you’re curious about AI tools and would like to learn more, this workshop will offer an introduction and opportunity to explore these tools yourself. There will also be opportunity for discussion and sharing, so if you have an AI tool that you use and find helpful, we’ll be asking for suggestions and demos from attendees as well.