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

Inaugural “STEM for Everyone” lecture searches for extraterrestrial life

By Molly Minturn | Wed, 02/15/2023 - 15:27


The Milky Way Galaxy seen over the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array west of Socorro, New Mexico.

The Milky Way Galaxy seen over the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array west of Socorro, New Mexico. (NRAO/AUI/NSF, Jeff Hellerman)

The U.S. military has shot down four aerial objects in recent weeks, most recently an unidentified object over Lake Huron on Sunday. As more attention is being paid to the skies in the wake of these events (as well as after a government report on unidentified aerial phenomena was released in 2021), it might not be considered too “out there” to speculate about the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

“I think it is always worthwhile to study things we don’t understand. That is how we make progress toward understanding the universe we live in,” said University of Virginia astronomy professor Kelsey Johnson in a 2021 interview with UVA Today. Johnson is the inaugural speaker in a new popular science lecture series, “STEM for Everyone,” funded by the Charles L. Brown Endowment.

Johnson’s three lectures in the series center on the theme of “Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe.” Her first talk, “Is There Extraterrestrial Life?” will be held on Monday, Feb. 27, from 6-7 p.m. in the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library, Room 133. Johnson’s next lectures in March and April will explore what happens inside black holes and what caused the Big Bang.

“Science is all about curiosity, and thinking about extraterrestrial life is rich ground for asking a huge range of questions,” Johnson said. “I absolutely love talking about and teaching these questions as a hook for inquiry — what forms might extraterrestrial life take? What environments might they need to live? How would they communicate? Would they even want to communicate? Considering these questions also gives us insight into ourselves and our own place in the universe.”

The “STEM for Everyone” lectures are designed for a general undergraduate audience and are open to the public. Refreshments will be provided, and there will be a small reception at the end of the talk. There will also be a prize drawing for attendees (prizes include a signed edition of Johnson’s book, “Constellations for Kids,” which is listed consistently in Amazon’s top 10 children’s astronomy books, as well as a signed art print by Johnson).

Johnson is president of the American Astronomical Society and founding director of the award-winning Dark Skies Bright Kids program. Her TED talk on the importance of dark skies has more than 2 million views and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Scientific American. In the video below, she explains what pulls her towards investigating the unsolved mysteries of the universe with her students.


Staff prepare for book move as renovation nears end

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Tue, 02/14/2023 - 09:36

The reopening of the new main library, Alderman, is just under a year away, but Beth Blanton, Director of Collections, is already deep in the process of mapping the book move into the new space. “I realized I have more than 50 spreadsheets — I stopped counting — keeping track of the collections in the book move,” she said, reflecting on a process that directly involves more than a dozen Library staff members and will touch more than a million printed books.

The process involves a complex “staging” that starts at Ivy Stacks, where most of the books are currently shelved. Since items in Ivy Stacks are sorted by size to allow for maximum efficiency in shelving, they need to be fully reorganized and merged into a browsable order before returning to their shelf locations in Alderman and Clemons.

The original move to Ivy Stacks in 2019 followed a significant expansion of shelving capacity in Clemons Library, which was conducted to ensure browsing access to high-demand items during the renovation. A large collection will remain available in Clemons, even after Alderman reopens in early 2024.

Brenda Loewen, Senior Project Manager, has been close to the inner workings of the renovation project since coming on board in late 2019. Reflecting on the move-out process that took place just before the start of the pandemic, Loewen remarked that it “was an incredible effort,” partly because “the construction manager and the design team were champing, you know, just literally biting at our heels because they were ready to start cordoning off areas to begin demolition.” She adds that the pandemic “forced everybody to get out of the library sooner rather than later.”

Returning to a similar task now, three years later, brings the project full circle. In preparation for physical moves, the Collections team is analyzing use patterns, looking at duplications between physical books and e-books, and making plans for final placement. They’re also shaping an RFP for a vendor to help execute the move itself, which will involve using a cherry picker to remove the books from the 30-foot-high Ivy Stacks shelves, staging them in call number order in an interim area, and finally arranging them correctly in the new space, with heavy oversight from the Library’s Collections team. “Most people just can’t envision what [moving] a million-plus books looks like,” Blanton observed. “We have to be concerned about accuracy of arrangement when they go back on the shelf, getting it done quickly so that folks will have access to the collection as quickly as possible, and quality control throughout the entire process.”

Using the move-out in 2019 as a model and also as a learning opportunity, this project will remain an all-hands effort, relying on expertise from all parts of the Library before its completion. “We recognize the expertise of all our colleagues and know that we’re going to be calling on most everyone in the Library at some point or another to share what they know with us. So these folks represent liaisons, public services, metadata or cataloging, as well as [the back-end systems design],” Blanton said.

The true test will begin one year from now, when a certificate of occupancy is anticipated for the new library building, allowing for the book move to begin. Desks, equipment, and humans will follow, with public access anticipated in early 2024. Until then, in spreadsheets — and in our Library staffers’ unrelenting dedication — we trust.

This story originally appeared in the Library’s Annual Report for FY 2022-23. Download the full PDF to read more.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day: It’s Love Data Week!

By Molly Minturn | Mon, 02/13/2023 - 12:46


Love Data Week banner


In his “Sonnet 116” William Shakespeare describes what he sees as the truest kind of love — the marriage of two minds.

“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken.”

Here at the University of Virginia Library, we are celebrating another kind of “ever-fixed mark” amid this time of chocolates and flowers: data! Every year around Valentine’s Day, the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research leads Love Data Week, a weeklong celebration of data and its uses. This year’s theme is “Data: Agent of Change.” 

With that theme in mind, we are highlighting data collections that might inspire users to bring about important change, whether political, environmental, or social. Jenn Huck, Associate Director of Research Data Services, manages our data collections and helps people find and use data and statistics. We asked her to share her favorite data collections held by the UVA Library. Take a look below.


PolicyMap includes data relevant to policymaking, like demographics, incomes and spending, housing, health, and quality of life. Use it for research, impact planning, site selection, and more. I love the map-making capabilities as well — it is really easy to use and does not require geographic information systems skills to make beautiful, informative maps for local communities.  Below, check out a map about affordable housing in Charlottesville that I quickly made in PolicyMap.

A map about about affordable housing in the Charlottesville area.
Percent of all homes that are likely affordable for a four-person family earning 120% of area median income between 2016 to 2020.


Data Planet Statistical Datasets 

Data Planet is a great place to find a wide variety of statistical datasets. Most of the datasets are from publicly available, often governmental sources, but UVA Library also provides special access to a few business- and marketing-related datasets. Data Planet is easy to search, and I like that you can combine different tables in one graph.  

Social Explorer 

If you have ever tried to extract census data from the U.S. Census Bureau website, you know that it can sometimes be tricky, and may not have the historical data you need. Social Explorer is great because it has an easy-to-use interface that simplifies selecting data based on geography, topic, and years (including historical data!). Social Explorer isn’t just about the census, although that is its most popular use. It also has school, housing, crime, agricultural data, and more. I also like that it is easy to export data out of the platform. 

Gallup Microdata 

Gallup surveys people all over the world about a wide variety of topics, including politics, health, safety, and well-being. This is a unique source because Gallup asks the same questions the same way year after year in countries around the world. This is beneficial because you can compare groups of people over time or across different countries.   


Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is one of the oldest and largest social science repositories. They were formed in 1962! As institutional members, UVA affiliates get access to the extremely well-curated datasets in the repository. ICPSR files are a joy to use because the documentation is so well done — you always know what you are getting for each data file. 


Statista’s main benefit is providing charts and statistics about business and consumer topics that are easily embedded into your work (with proper attribution, of course). They also provide excellent reports on trending topics, like markets, brands, and politics.  

When helping people find data, one strategy I use is exploring these platforms to see what kind of data might exist in the world. These platforms are really easy to search, and the best part is that they always cite their sources. Sometimes I will use a platform like Statista, PolicyMap, or Data-Planet to search for data, figure out what exists, then I might go directly to the source in the data citation to learn even more.  

If you have any questions about these platforms, finding data, or are interested in data literacy instruction in your classroom, reach out to Jenn Huck at Need help analyzing the data you already have? Reach out to StatLab at for one-on-one consults and walk-in office hours. 


Recommended reels & reads this Black History Month 2023

By Molly Minturn | Thu, 02/02/2023 - 14:37

Librarian for African American and African Studies Katrina Spencer presents film and book pairings from the UVA catalog and beyond in celebration of Black History Month 2023. Spencer takes a wide, diasporic view, highlighting actors, writers, and creators from the United States, Brazil, South Africa, and Guyana. You are warmly encouraged to explore additional films through our streaming film holdings on Kanopy, Projectr, and our resource guide managed by Media Collections Librarian Leigh Rockey. For more recommendations, also see our posts commemorating Black History Month 2022 and Black History Month 2021.


An incredibly vibrant and richly colored four-part documentary found on Netflix, “High on the Hog: How High on the Hog posterAfrican American Cuisine Transformed America” traces the connections and foodways of the transatlantic Black diaspora. “High on the hog” is an idiomatic phrase that refers to a luxurious lifestyle and the series shows the ways in which multiple generations of Black peoples created delicacy and sophisticated cuisine in the midst of bounty on the West African coastlines and scarcity in times of forced servitude and political oppression. Hosted by Stephen Satterfield and inspired by food historian Jessica B. Harris’ life’s work, the series starts in Benin with food staples such as okra, yams, and peanuts. It visits South Carolina and its unique cultivation of rice. It arrives in Charlottesville and highlights the French-trained enslaved chef, James Hemings, of Thomas Jefferson’s of Monticello. (This episode also features public historian and UVA alumna Niya Bates.) The series then peers at oyster shucking up north in New York. Barbecue, cookouts, and Black cowboys also make appearances. The work is a worthwhile watch for its stimulating visuals alone, but the history lessons are sure to enlighten as well. “High on the Hog” proves that Black history is American history.


I’d readily pair Satterfield’s work with “Black Food: Stories, Art, & Recipes From Across the African Black Food book coverDiaspora.” Critics can’t seem to say enough good things about “Black Food,” a colorful anthology of food histories, memoirs, and recipes collected by food savant, author, and publisher Bryant Terry. With more than three dozen recipes — sweet, savory, pungent, spicy, and the like — the anthology delivers a cascade of mesmerizing flavors including something for every palate. For a classic soul food dish, see “Collards” on page 157. For an innovative dish, see the “Black Eyed Pea & Charred Octopus Salad” on page 163. Anyone will tell you that “Black Food” is much more than a cookbook. Terry’s vision is one of color, breadth, and inclusion, and he welcomes a broad swath of voices, among them author Toni Morrison’s, rest advocate Tricia Hersey’s, and peer chef Pierre Thiam’s to comment on their experiences and histories in creating nourishment for the body and soul. Among the many accomplishments of this work is the fact that more than half of the recipes included are either vegetarian or vegan   not a simple undertaking in a society that collectively practices mass meat consumption. Perhaps the lone frustration associated with this tome is not being able to move through the many culinary challenges quickly enough!


Wash Day Diaries,” a graphic novel and quick read by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith, tells the storiesWashday Diaries book cover of four fictional but hyper realistic young Black women — Nisha, Kim, Cookie, and Davene — in New York City and the adventures they encounter attempting to live their best lives. As they move about the metropolitan space, they are faced with misogyny, intergenerational trauma, romantic “situationships,” and depression. Through it all, they care for each other— and their hair—  showing a commitment to sisterhood and locks that slay. Again, the colors of this work, as in those listed above, are an endless feast for the eyes. Many readers will find themselves reflected on the pages, be it in the familiar toxicity of many a modern dating plain, the stifling expectations of familial elders, or the doldrums of managing one’s mental health. The thread of hair care is a recognizable cultural practice for Black women that allows the quartet of characters to show one tradition they share, and acts as an authoritative but unobtrusive driver for the narrative. Ultimately, the story is one of triumph against adversity via reliance on community bonds. 

Rowser and Smith’s work belongs in conversation with Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary “Good Hair,” Good Hair posterwhich prioritizes revealing not only the many dollars Black women put towards maintaining our hair, but the sacrifices and risks we take, too, with the same goal in mind. The term “good hair” within international Black communities refers to the adherence to a European beauty standard that suggests that kinky or curly hair is less beautiful and/or desirable than straight hair. This belief thrust upon the Black diaspora for centuries led to the straightening of our hair with hot combs, flat irons, and chemical relaxers, and the use of some wigs. The last 15 years have shown tremendous growth within the natural hair movement and made braids, twist outs, cornrows, and other natural styles more widespread than before. “Good Hair” largely examines the economics behind Black hair care, and while the tradition has seen a major shift since this film’s release, the documentary gives a great overview of a multibillion-dollar industry and the paramount practices of a long era.


“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul,” directed by Adamma Ebo, was the best film I saw in 2022 — not that IHonk for Jesus poster saw all that many. The pandemic, after all, changed our collective movie-going behavior for a few years. I’d call this one a satirical work that critiques commitment to the prosperity gospel narrative and any habit of sweeping scandal under the rug. A pastor named Lee-Curtis Childs and his wife Trinitie have a fall from grace in leading their church flock. The two hire a documentarian and camera crew to follow their rebirth and phoenix-like rise from the ashes. The film should have an even greater following, not only for its execution, but also for its high-profile leads, Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown. 


For those of us who grew up in the church, the film has an uncanny knack for shedding The Secret Lives of Church Ladies coverlight on the places where the practice of faith can splinter. How much commitment should we give to organized religion when that same commitment is causing us pain? That question is the one that led me to pair “Honk for Jesus” with the short story collection “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw. If any viewer or reader has been hurt by engagement with organized religion, these two works will help them foreground and explore some foundational frictions. Both works ask, “What happens when the prescribed path to salvation isn’t working? How much are we willing to cover up, repress, and ignore to be called holy, faithful, and sanctified?”



I was taking a Brazilian Portuguese class once a week with the local Speak! Language Center and myChild of the Dark cover instructor told me about a memoir called “O quarto de despejo”/ “Child Of The Dark: The Diary Of Carolina Maria de Jesus,” translated by David St. Clair. Author Carolina Maria de Jesus, a Black Brazilian woman, lived in a community formerly known as a “favela” or slum in São Paulo, Brazil, in the mid- and late-1950s. Unlike many of her neighbors, she was able to read and write. And unlike many women in her community, she was unmarried by choice. De Jesus’ diary tells of daily life in an intimate community of impoverished people who are lacking basic amenities like indoor plumbing. These are people who know hunger and people who scrape by as “catadores,” workers who exchange discarded recyclable materials for money. After de Jesus’ work was “discovered” by a journalist, the book that followed would become an international success and de Jesus would be able to liberate herself from the slum.

Before reading the work above, I decided to watch the documentary “Waste Land,” directed by Lucy Waste Land posterWalker, on Amazon Prime to learn more about the lives of catadores. In this film, viewers are transported to an active and dangerous landfill where Brazilians rifle through garbage in an effort to make a living. Brazilian artist Vik Muniz invites several catadores to participate in an unconventional project in which he recreated their portraits using the very materials reaped from the landfill. His avant-garde approach to bringing humanity to the workers is enough to merit the viewing of this film. Witnessing the growth of the participants’ self-esteem upon seeing themselves in a new light, however, is the true prize. Muniz’ auctioning of his artistic work brings greater funds and dignity to the marginalized workers, changing their outlooks forever.



Styling my hair into single-strand twists, strands and fingertips covered in coconut oil and raw shea butter,Trevor Noah takes a while. So I turn on something I can watch to get ’er done. In December, Netflix recommended Trevor Noah’s stand up specialI Wish You Would” to me as a 99% match, so I opted in. I’ve only seen clips of Noah’s late-night hosting of “The Daily Show” via YouTube, but one of the things I consistently appreciate is his intimate knowledge of three different continents: Africa, Europe, and North America. While fellow Afro-British comedian Gina Yashere shares some of this vantage point, too, this profile isn’t so common in the world of comedy, so there’s always something to learn from his humor. In this special, the commentary Noah makes about the international handling of the coronavirus pandemic was especially compelling. For centuries, the media has depicted African cultures as backward and lacking. Despite this representation, Noah points out that several African nations took the knowledge they had gained from preventing the spread of the Ebola virus and applied it, yielding winning results and challenging the notion of superior health practices being broadly prevalent only outside of Africa. Over the past seven years, this creator’s incisive wit has helped Western viewers expand their views of Africa and Africans, demonstrating that intelligence, wit, sarcasm, and social critique are alive and well in the Global South, too. 


Another creator who labored in an effort to shed light on the interactions between continents was How Europe Underdeveloped AfricaGuyanese historian Walter Rodney, author of the earth-shattering work “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.” Rodney’s work highlights a historical phenomenon of Europe treating Africa as a source for endless extraction, which has long crippled African economies and labor forces, while building, expanding, and sustaining European ones. Anyone getting their feet wet in the history of Africa will be helped by learning about the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 and  Rodney’s work, which includes an examination of the historic event and contextualizes enduring disparities we see amongst major global entities today. 



Archives of architecture: Now available on Grounds and beyond

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Wed, 02/01/2023 - 10:42

The Library’s rich collection of visual resources related to the history of the University of Virginia reached a new level of accessibility in September 2021. That month, the digital library JSTOR included five public collections from UVA in a project to add high-quality images to its more than 1,900 journal titles. With the exception of Culbreth Theatre’s image collection of stagecraft props, the UVA images that were added to JSTOR’s Open Community Collections platform are all from the Library. The images are housed on web interfaces constructed by Metadata Librarian Ann Burns.

Two of the Library’s collections — photos of student graffiti captured from study carrels in the main library prior to renovation, and photos of regional and vernacular world architecture taken between 1959 and 2013 by UVA Professor of Architecture Robert Vickery — were featured in the 2020 Library Annual Report. The additional collections are the thousands of items in the Richard Guy Wilson Architecture Archive and the James Murray Howard University of Virginia Historic Buildings and Grounds Collection.

The Richard Guy Wilson Architecture Archive

Richard Guy Wilson, who retired in 2019 as the Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History at the University of Virginia, specialized in architecture, design, and art from the 18th century to the 21st century in America and abroad. Early in his career at UVA, Wilson began bringing slides to the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library, where staff began the process of selecting and digitizing them. Wilson chose the photos from his extensive personal collection based on their value for teaching, and they cover a broad range of architecture from around the world. Burns described or edited most of the 13,000 images in the collection (as of July 2022), and she is continuing to identify images to be added.

The James Murray Howard University of Virginia Historic Buildings and Grounds Collection

James Murray Howard (1948-2008), for 20 years the Architect for Historic Buildings and Grounds at the University of Virginia, supervised the restoration of many aspects of Jefferson’s Academical Village. Burns did most of the work describing and uploading the images, consulting with Sarita Herman, Historic Preservation Team Leader in UVA Facilities Management, for help in identification when needed, and the Library’s Digital Production Group assisted with scanning images. The collection comprises Howard’s personal archive of images that document his research into the creation of Jefferson’s buildings; the techniques and processes used in their construction, decoration, and restoration; and his own teaching career directing what he called “a practical working laboratory for University students.”

In addition to their new visibility in JSTOR, the Library has added online access to the images through Virgo, completing a project that began in 2013 as a partnership between the University’s Historic Preservation Unit and the Fine Arts Library. Metadata Operations Librarian Perry Roland prepared the images for use in Virgo, as well as in the Digital Public Library of America.

As part of JSTOR’s Open Community Collections, the project will be a useful teaching and learning tool for the more than 80 million scholars, students, and faculty from around the world who use the platform each year.

The collections can be accessed via JSTOR at

A stairway with elegant style and a curving handrail. Sunlight filters from above.
“Casa Navas,” in Catalonia, Spain, from the Richard Guy Wilson Architecture Archive


Criss-cross handrail pattern of white painted wood, outdoors.
A detail of Grounds: “Cabell Hall,” from the James Murray Howard University of Virginia Historic Buildings and Grounds Collection.


Textured ceiling tiles with octagons and floral patterns, some containing the letter V.
A detail of Grounds: “Pavilion III,” from the James Murray Howard University of Virginia Historic Buildings and Grounds Collection.


Improving the graduate student experience through assessment

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Mon, 01/30/2023 - 09:20

Measuring impact is a critical element of library work, and it often illuminates opportunities for improvement. The Library’s recent Graduate Student Survey is one such example and its findings echo results from the UVA-wide Student Experience in the Research University survey, which focused specifically on the graduate student experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic has been a complicating factor in all realms of graduate student life, it affected Library services a great deal during 2020 and 2021, and the responses in the Graduate Student Survey reflected that.

Three key patterns emerged through the surveys, presented here with representative comments:

First, graduate students wanted better outreach efforts to raise awareness of ways the Library can assist them throughout the course of their education, such as recommending purchases, using interlibrary loan, or engaging with specialty units like the Scholars’ Lab.

“While I know that librarians carry significant expertise in countless areas, I am generally unaware of the ways in which they can help to strengthen my research and teaching. Relatedly, the library could better inform graduate students of its services and opportunities.”

Second, they wanted the Library to provide quiet, flexible spaces for collaboration and study — a particular challenge during the height of the pandemic.

“Increasingly working from home has taught me that I need a separate (reliable) space to write and do research.”

Third, they expressed deep interest in having the Library provide access to a variety of materials including print and electronic monographs, as well as journals, streaming audio and video, data sets, and imagery.

“For me, having access to online resources is the MOST important part of my learning and research processes.”

“The physical collection of UVA Library is of critical importance to my research.”

This type of feedback is essential since it can help reveal hidden needs and, when appropriate, assist the Library in knowing how or when to course-correct. In this case, the feedback offers helpful validation for recent projects, such as recurring semesterly emails to students and instructors; the main library renovation, which will include significantly expanded study space; and intentional spending for collection development, including ongoing work on sustainable scholarship.

Anonymized quotes are from the 2021 Library Graduate Student Survey.

This story originally appeared in the Library’s Annual Report for FY 2022-23. Download the full PDF to read more.

Faculty support programs: Call for proposals

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Wed, 01/25/2023 - 16:45

From Judith Thomas, Director of Faculty Programs

Applications are now being accepted for three Library programs: Research Sprints, Course Enrichment Grants, and Affordability & Equity Grants.

Course Enrichment Grants provide support to faculty who would like to enhance students’ abilities to seek, evaluate, manage, and use information and data, as well as create or improve on media-rich class assignments. Recipients receive a $2,500 award (as summer wages or to a research account) and dedicated support from experienced librarians, technologists, or other library staff.

  • Open to anyone holding a faculty appointment at the University of Virginia who is teaching a semester-long course (Fall 2023; J-Term, Spring, Summer 2024).
  • Application deadline: 2/17/2023 

Research Sprints offer an intensive work environment for faculty who want to concentrate on a new or existing project. Individuals or teams get the undivided attention of a team of librarians for projects related to any phase or aspect of their research, scholarship, or teaching. An information sessions will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 9-9:45am.

  • Open to anyone holding a faculty appointment as well as senior professional research staff at the University of Virginia. 
  • Sprint week: May 15-19, 2023
  • Application deadline: 2/17/2023

The Affordability & Equity Grant Program is a Jefferson Trust-funded program that provides support to faculty who want to adopt, adapt, or create open educational resources. The program is open to anyone holding a faculty appointment at the University of Virginia who is teaching a two-, three-, or four-credit course. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

If you have any questions about any aspect of these programs, please email Judith Thomas at


The Central Gazette: Charlottesville's first paper now available online

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Tue, 01/24/2023 - 16:08

The Central Gazette, established by brothers Clement Pynes McKennie and John Harris McKennie, was Charlottesville’s first newspaper, running from January 1820 until July 1827. A four-page weekly available at a subscription rate of $3 per year, the Central Gazette aggregated items of foreign and domestic news and posted articles and notices of local and regional interest. In the first issue, the publishers laid out the paper’s intended scope: “Besides detailing the general intelligence of the day, it will give a copious account of every transaction appertaining to Agriculture and the general prosperity of Virginia—her seat of learning, her emporium of Arts and her schools of Science.” The paper included marriage notices, obituaries, notices of items found or stolen, want ads, and advertisements for services and goods. The University of Virginia was an early advertiser; Proctor Arthur S. Brockenbrough posted a notice in the March 11, 1820 issue promising “liberal wages” for laborers willing to work at UVA. In July 1827 the paper was succeeded by the Virginia Advocate, which ran until 1860 when the title changed to the Charlottesville Advocate briefly before ceasing publication at the start of the Civil War.

The University of Virginia Library holds 157 issues of the Central Gazette, which are now available online through a partnership with the Library of Virginia, hosted on their Virginia Chronicle portal (, which offers digitized versions of historical Virginia newspapers. The issues were first prepared for scanning by the UVA Library’s Preservation department, before being scanned in-house by the Digital Production Group and sent to the Library of Virginia in April 2022.

The available issues on the Virginia Chronicle portal include an unbroken run from Vol. I, No. 1 of January 29, 1820, through September 20, 1822. The last digitized issue is Vol. VIII, No. 369 published on Saturday, March 24, 1827. All of the issues are fully text searchable, and viewers who create an account and log in to the portal can help correct the digitized text, which has been automatically generated by optical character recognition.

This story originally appeared in the Library’s Annual Report for FY 2022-23. Download the full PDF to read more.

Faded newspaper page
Vol. 1, No. 1 of The Central Gazette


Bring the Library into your classroom

By Molly Minturn | Thu, 01/19/2023 - 14:46

Jacob Hopkins knew from a young age that he wanted to work with books and people, either in a bookstore or a library. “I think what I have always liked about libraries is that everyday practice of teaching and learning, as well as meeting people where they are,” he said.

Hopkins joined the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library as an Instruction Librarian in August, becoming the newest member of a vast network of teaching librarians at the University of Virginia Library serving UVA and the local community. In the past calendar year, UVA Library staff conducted nearly 650 instruction sessions, orientations, and tutorials with students, faculty, staff, and community members, introducing them to the Library and sharpening their critical thinking skills.

Support in the Classroom

The Library offers teaching support in myriad ways: UVA instructors can request a Library class to improve their students’ research and data management skills; request an instruction session from Special Collections, where students can get hands-on experience with archives that connect to their courses; request a class in video and audio production in the Robertson Media Center; or schedule a consultation for spatial technologies fieldwork from the Scholars’ Lab.

No matter what they are teaching, all librarians are driven to “establish the Library as a resource, as a place full of friendly people, and as a place where you can get answers,” said Chris Ruotolo, who leads a team of subject librarians in the arts and humanities and has worked at the Library for 25 years, starting when she herself was a graduate student. “The idea of getting librarians into the classroom, or better yet bringing students into library classrooms, has always been a priority.”

Many teaching librarians have earned subject-specific master’s or doctoral degrees before joining the Library, making them experts in their fields. Others, like Hopkins, held teaching fellowship positions while obtaining their Master of Library and Information Science degrees, learning how to create lesson plans and assess their own instruction as librarians. Hopkins and his Special Collections colleagues teach roughly 60 classes a semester, using items such as ancient clay tablets from the Mesopotamian Sumer Empire to explore the history of writing and printing, and a first edition copy of Phyllis Wheatley’s “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” for students studying anything from poetry to race and class in the Atlantic World.

“We try to meet the needs of whatever class is coming in,” he said. “I aim to design learning experiences that represent the true diversity of lived experiences throughout human history. And I hope that that inspires students to think about how their own lives and experiences are being archived.” Hopkins urges faculty to get their teaching requests in early in the semester. “Even if they’re not coming in for another two to three months, they’ll want to go ahead and get that on the calendar, which I appreciate deeply because that gives us more time to plan.”

Requesting a Library instruction session is simple: just fill out a “Request a Library Class” form. From there, subject liaisons will arrange instruction for individual classes. 

For a Special Collections session, fill out a Special Collections Class Visits and Instruction” form.

Below, check out an overview of the multiple teaching resources the Library offers.

Teaching & Learning Team

The Library’s Teaching & Learning team helps undergraduate students develop information literacy and research skills through carefully planned classes. (Take a look at the team’s tutorials, tips, and tricks about all the Library has to offer on the “How do I …” page.) The team also gives orientations on using UVA Library resources to local high school classes.

“We have a survey that we ask our instructors to give to their students beforehand that helps us gauge how much experience, if any, students have with the library,” said Cecelia Parks, an Undergraduate Student Success Librarian who gives instruction sessions to College Advising, Writing & Rhetoric, and Engagements courses in the College of Arts & Sciences. “That’s been extremely helpful for us in figuring out where students are coming from and making sure that this session feels really relevant.”

Parks and Meridith Wolnick, who directs the Library’s Teaching & Learning programs, co-taught a session for a 56-person, first-year writing class this past fall that Victor Luftig, the course’s professor, described as the best interaction with a library I have ever had in more than three decades of teaching.”

Luftig, an English professor, said the librarians’ amount of preparation and attention to students’ specific questions took the quality of the presentation to another level. “I think the Library, in its outward-facing capacities, is the purest expression of UVA’s commitment to its mission as a public institution,” he said in an email. “My students’ relation to the institution changed because of this session. One student could not get over the wealth of information that is available to him easily and without charge; he slapped both his hands on the desk in wonder and glee. My students’ attention was locked in for all 50 minutes.”

The Teaching & Learning team, which interacted with more than 5,000 people in the past academic year, also includes members of the Robertson Media Center, who offer classroom instruction sessions and consultations on audiovisual production; digital storytelling; 3D data processing and fabrication; equipment for innovation, design and production; and digital projects. The Robertson Media Center team has expertise in creative and cutting-edge technologies and works closely with faculty to design inclusive class sessions that build on students’ existing knowledge and skills.

To request an instruction session from the Teaching & Learning team, fill out the “Request a Library Class” form.

Research Data Services + Sciences Team

Overwhelmed by databases? Struggling to organize a massive amount of research? The Library’s Research Data Services + Sciences team can help. Led by Ricky Patterson, an astronomer by training, the team provides classroom support and outreach to all science disciplines at UVA.

The team’s subject liaisons, many of whom have graduate degrees in science disciplines, teach students best practices for data management — how to catalog, store, and preserve all data used in a research project so it can be easily accessed and understood in the future. They also instruct students in finding data sources — from basic keyword searches; to accessing articles in the many databases licensed by the Library; to lesser-known ways to access information, such as interlibrary loan and Libkey Nomad.

Finally, liaisons are available to meet with students who might be struggling with writing a thesis or presenting data or building a bibliography for the first time. “I always say that our liaisons create a safe space,” Patterson said. “If you’re under some deadline or you’re embarrassed because you don’t know the answer but it seems like everyone else does, come in and talk to a liaison one-on-one. It will be a safe space and it’s going to be okay.”

To request an instruction session from the Research Data Services + Sciences team, fill out the “Request a Library Class” form.

Arts & Humanities

Chris Ruotolo heads up a team of ten subject liaisons in the arts and humanities. These liaisons provide subject-specific instruction at all levels, but focus on providing more specialized classroom instruction to upper-level undergraduate and graduate classes.

“Our work tends to be as much about connecting students with specific sources — where to find resources on, say, modern Chinese history or on certain types of representation in media — as about helping them navigate the library. A lot of our preparation work involves making sure we know what is out there, and what are the best places to go. Many of these students are doing field work or community data-gathering, so our work also involves connecting students to resources beyond the library that can help them with their research.”

To request an instruction session from the Arts & Humanities team, fill out the “Request a Library Class” form.

Special Collections

For a recent ENWR class called “Monstrosity,” Jacob Hopkins led a Special Collections instruction session that invited students to examine vintage movie posters for “Dracula,” Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in unique miniature book form, and a first edition of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

“These sorts of items got students thinking about the idea of monsters and what they represent, but this was also an opportunity to show the wide variety of items in Special Collections — everything from literature to ephemera,” Hopkins said. “These items contribute to their research and scholarship, and they start to really tell an interesting story, opening up all these new pathways for exploration.”

In addition to working with objects in Special Collections, students learn how to search the archives in Virgo (the Library’s main catalog), as well as in other discovery platforms, such as Archival Resources of the Virginias (ARVAS).

To request an instruction session from Special Collections, fill out the Special Collections Class Visits and Instruction” form.

Scholars’ Lab

The Scholars’ Lab is UVA Library’s community lab, specializing in the digital humanities, geographic information systems, mapping, scanning, and modeling of artifacts and historic architecture.

We regularly provide cutting-edge spatial technologies fieldwork, training, and research, partnering with UVA faculty and students and regional community members to tell stories about, discover, and preserve our history,” said Scholars’ Lab Managing Director Amanda Visconti in an email.

The Scholars’ Lab regularly offers short consultation sessions to everyone in the UVA community. With at least one term’s notice, Scholars’ Lab staff will consider collaborating with faculty on syllabus design or module teaching, as well as co-teaching courses.

To contact the Scholars’ Lab, write to

Research Tutorials

The Library offers in-depth tutorials to students, faculty, and staff to assist with specialized research projects and to provide individual instruction in the use of online databases and other library resources. To request a Research Tutorial, fill out a “Research Tutorial request” form.

Course Enrichment Grants

Course Enrichment Grants provide support to faculty who would like to boost their students’ abilities in seeking and using data, as well as to create new types of media-rich class assignments. Recipients receive a $2,500 award and dedicated support from experienced librarians, technologists, or other Library staff.

These grants are open to anyone holding a faculty appointment at UVA who is teaching a semester-long course (Fall, J-Term, Spring, or Summer).

The next application deadline is Feb. 17, 2023.


Expanding focus: New databases increase inclusivity

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Tue, 01/17/2023 - 12:14

Scholars have increasingly been moving toward a more inclusive historical narrative, recognizing the contributions of marginalized communities that have often been glossed over in prominent histories. The Library's Collections team is helping to create a more complete and accurate narrative by amplifying voices of Native people; people of color; people questioning prescribed gender roles; people with disabilities; and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities — adding new resources not for the sake of diversity alone but as a way promoting lasting, systemic change.

A man holds a young girl in this illustrated poster. The background is red.
SNCC fundraising poster by silkscreen artist Earl Newman from the mid-'60s, in the SNCC Digital Gateway.

The Collections team has created a new inclusive collections guide featuring databases, journals, books, streaming video, and external resources for African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Asian and Pacific American Studies, Disability Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Latinx Studies, Jewish Studies, and more.

New databases in African American studies include Transcripts of the Malcolm X Assassination Trial, which sheds light on the assassination of the charismatic and controversial Muslim minister and civil rights leader; the SNCC Digital Gateway, examining the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee — the only national civil rights organization of the 1960s led by young people; and African Americans and Jim Crow: Repression and Protest, 1883-1922 — 1,000 fully searchable primary works providing critical insight into African American culture during Reconstruction and beyond.

Various Buddhist masters sit in a circle in this ink drawing. Some wear red hats.
A unique ink image, “Third Karmapa and Lineage Masters,” housed in the Rubin Museum of Art, from the Treasury of Lives database.

Other new inclusive databases include Gender: Identity and Social Change, which examines the history of gender and gender roles in the 19th century to the present; Treasury of Lives, with historical biographies of deceased scholars, masters, and leaders in traditional Himalayan and Inner Asian society and culture; and American Indians and the American West, 1809-1971, which contains documents related to the expulsion of Native peoples from their ancestral lands. Disability in the Modern World: History of a Social Movement, features primary sources about the roles that people with disabilities have played in all aspects of modern life, while the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive is a fully streaming video collection of more than 55,000 interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. Two other new online resources helping to increase global understanding are Policy Commons and Sabinet Collection. Policy Commons, the world’s largest database for public policy, allows scholars access to primary sources related to the most critical social issues and events of our time, and includes the ability to follow featured topics such as human rights, gender equality, and Indigenous peoples. Sabinet Collection offers the largest aggregation of African journals, news, and government information, helping to fill a gap identified by the Collections team in resources created by African scholars.

The databases are only a small sampling of the many online resources added over the past year that focus on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as the Library continues its commitment to expand its collections with new voices and perspectives.

To peruse the full guide online, visit:

A poster for the African National Congress shows a sketch of 16 Black women mostly smiling. One is raising her arms, trying to free her wrists of handcuffs.
African National Congress “1984 Year of the Woman” poster, from the University of Melbourne Poster Collection, in “Gender: Identity and Social Change.”

This story originally appeared in the Library’s Annual Report for FY 2022-23. Download the full PDF to read more.