Library of Virginia

GPO would like to shine a spotlight on the services of the Library of Virginia (LVA). In early May, the library staff announced that Dorothy Harrison, their Federal Documents Cataloger, had completed an 8 year project to catalog all of the pre-1976 U. S. Congressional hearings in the LVA collection. This wonderful achievement prompted GPO to do a bit of background investigation to find out more about this library and its vast collections and services.

The library has been in the FDLP for so long, they predate GPO’s paperwork and the FDLP as we know it today. The library itself was formed in 1823 in Richmond, Virginia and began receiving publications under the “by law” designation of 1814 for state and territorial libraries. The library has also received additional materials through exchange programs with institutions such as the Smithsonian.

Library of Virginia Statistics

  • The Federal documents collection numbers around 680,000 documents.
  • Congressional hearings were collected fairly comprehensively over the years; searches in the collection have yielded hearings from 1803 to the present.
  • Hearings are in paper, with the exception of appropriation hearings.
  • The 12,000 + hearings occupy over 1,782 shelves.

Dorothy Harrison cataloged the entire hearings collection between 2003 and 2011. Some libraries have cataloged small portions of their hearings collections, but few have attempted to catalog all of it.

Facts About the Library of Virginia Cataloging

  • Of the 40,000 or so records for Federal publications that Ms. Harrison has created in the last 12 years, she estimates that 3,343 of them required original catalog record creation.
  • LVA has provided many enhanced records to OCLC records, which provides a credit to offset OCLC charges.
  • All catalog records use Superintendent of Documents call numbers.
  • Catalog records were purchased for hearings printed after 1975.
  • For the copy cataloged records, most required some level of editing, such as the addition of a Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) call number or additional subject headings.
  • LVA has provided “I level” bibliographic records for the hearings; each record containing 2 to 5 subject headings, as appropriate.

We are lucky to be able to provide access to our valuable collection of historical government publications, despite budget cutbacks and layoffs.

Other collections that the LVA have comprehensively cataloged include:

  • Smithsonian Institute
  • Library of Congress
  • Flood Insurance Studies
  • Works Progress Administration
  • Census Bureau
  • Agriculture Department
  • Veterans Administration
  • Department of the Interior
  • All of the Commission publications distributed under the SuDoc call number Y 3.

They have also created catalog records to help users identify individual titles in series (“in-analytics”) for:

  • Bound Soil Surveys
  • Women’s Bureau
  • Bureau of Education Bulletins
  • Education Circulars

We’ve also had users who could have accessed materials at their own depositories, but found our cataloging on OCLC, and became Library of Virginia users.

The LVA is proud to have made their records available on OCLC so that other libraries are aware of the resources that are available. They are aware of the influx of new researchers in their library due to the visibility of the collection via cataloging. Their cataloging efforts have reached beyond the library as well, including to researchers as far away as Germany.

There are many other aspects to managing a large, historic depository library beyond cataloging. The LVA staff are also involved with:

  • Preservation projects, including conserving the nineteenth- and twentieth-century soil survey maps and de-acidifying and making preservation copies of the Office of the Publication Board reports.
  • Cooperative chat reference service, LVA is a charter member of the Government Information Online group.
  • The Association of Southeast Regional Libraries (ASERL) as a “Center of Excellence” for the Publication Board.
  • The Virginia State Publications Depository Program. LVA distributes paper publications to twelve designated depositories throughout the commonwealth and have developed an innovative deposit and retrieval system for digital state publications that are only available electronically. State agencies deposit their publications remotely into the digital repository, and the Library's staff evaluates and ingests the material, places a preservation copy in a dark archive, catalogs the access copy, and makes it available through the digital collection Virginia Memory, via the Library’s online catalog, and OCLC. Lists of cataloged state publications are distributed statewide via listserv for any Virginia library to add to its own online catalog.

GPO extends our gratitude and appreciation to the efforts of the Library of Virginia to make their own collections more visible to researchers, but also for aiding other libraries in cataloging their own collections! The hard work of the LVA has initiated a movement from which libraries can exponentially benefit.

Congratulations to the Library of Virginia Staff

  • Dorothy Harrison, Federal Documents Cataloger
  • Catherine Bond, Federal Documents Librarian
  • Nathan Verilla, State Publications Librarian
  • Meikiu Lo, State Publications Cataloger
  • Florence Sauls, Federal Documents Monographs Processing
  • Mary S. Clark, Director Acquisitions and Access Management