• David Joyce

Research Repository Reviews: The Library of Virginia


Reading Room at the Library of Virginia

When conducting genealogical research in Virginia, there are plenty of repositories to visit. From local courthouses, genealogical libraries, museums, a variety of research material is scattered throughout the state. While it is true that you may have to drive a considerate distance to some of these research centers, these trips are worth the effort. Perhaps, the most well-known repository, the Library of Virginia, is the best example.


Located in the heart of Richmond City, Virginia, it has a large variety of original and secondary material. The main center of genealogical research, it has earned quite the reputation. Attracting the attention of novice and professional historians alike, they come from all over Virginia. The reasons for this are clear. Besides having one of the largest genealogical collections in the state, they offer specialized opportunities for all levels of researchers.

Located on the 2nd floor is the Reading Room. Known for its inventory of published genealogical books, it offers visitors a chance to begin their research project. Offering them a wide selection of transcribed deeds, wills, census records, and other sorts of material, every Virginia county is included. For those who want to record what they find, a book scanner and printer are both available within the room. However, for more experienced genealogists, the microfilm room is used to refine one’s research.


Like the Reading Room, the microfilm room contains references from every county. With rows upon rows of cabinets containing microfilm and microfiche, you can spend all day there. In addition to having access to military records and census records, and the assistance of a friendly staff, it is a good learning experience for anyone. But there is other room that is also beneficial to library patrons, the Archival Room.


Although, it is common knowledge the Library of Virginia has transcribed reference material, microfilm, and microfiche, the archives are just as important. Housing original documents from the colonial period to the modern era, one can request to personally study this material. If the said document is too fragile, you will not be permitted to handle the item. In most cases, depending on its condition, the staff is happy to help.


There is but one drawback about this repository. With its location in Richmond City, it is surrounded by one-way streets and limited parking. Fortunately, there is free parking available underneath the library. With that said, here are a few final tips to consider before visiting the Library of Virginia:


1. Plan to stay all Day: Don’t underestimate how large their collection is. It is not uncommon to run out of time when doing research there.

2. Bring a flash drive: With the microfilm readers and book scanner being flash drive compatible, this will save you time and money. If you didn’t bring one, you can always purchase a flash drive on the 2nd floor.

3. Bring money for lunch: There is a small restaurant across the street. A full researcher is a productive researcher!

4. Bring a notebook: With the wealth of information to be discovered, be prepared to keep notes!

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