Brenda Gunn to Join Library as Head of Archives and Special Collections

The University of Virginia Library is pleased to announce that Brenda Gunn, currently the Janey Slaughter Briscoe Archivist for the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, will join the Library as Associate University Librarian for Archives and Special Collections.

Brenda Gunn

 “UVA is very lucky to have found Brenda Gunn for this position,” said Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John Unsworth. “Archives and Special Collections are extremely important to the Library and to the University, and heavily used by students across UVA and by scholars around the world. Brenda has the expertise, the professional reputation, and the management experience to lead this part of our organization into a bright future. I look forward to working with her on expanding our already remarkable collections, celebrating the University’s bicentennial, and pursuing a successful capital campaign.”

Gunn began her career as an assistant archivist for the State Bar of Texas, and joined the Briscoe Center as head of archives and manuscripts in 1999. She was named assistant director for research and collections in 2005, and associate director for the division in 2007. In 2010, she became the first Janey Slaughter Briscoe Archivist. She has a Masters of Library and Information Science from UT Austin’s School of Information, as well as a Master of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Texas at Tyler. Gunn is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in American History at Austin. She has published on Davy Crockett, Stephen Austin, and integration in Texas, among other topics, and she has recently presented on involving undergraduates in archival research, as well as on the role of archivists in truth and reconciliation efforts. Her expertise in archives has been recognized by her election, in March, to the Society of American Archivists Council for a 3-year term, beginning in August 2017, and even more recently by her election as a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, an honor bestowed by the Society of American Archivists for outstanding contributions to the archival profession.

Gunn, who will start at the Library on August 28, commented, “I’m thrilled to join this wonderful community at the brink of the Library’s third century. The University of Virginia holds a special place in the world of cultural heritage institutions, and the Library’s collections, assembled and curated for scholarship and teaching, supports that stature. I look forward to working with Dean Unsworth and the Library’s stellar staff to lift the Library to even greater heights. I know we will do great things together.”

The Library’s Online Resource PolicyMap Makes Data Come Alive!

Give life to your research with the Library’s new online resource PolicyMap. Whether you’re researching trends in income, jobs, education, health, or home sales, a map adds the power of instant visualization to tables, charts, and graphs. PolicyMap allows you to create maps fast, either by downloading data from more than 15,000 continuously updated datasets, or by uploading your own data.

Visualize the latest demographics, compare data across locations, generate on-the-fly market reports, run analytics. Interact with maps that demonstrate the answers to: What is the birth rate by county? What are the homeownership rates across the U.S.? Where do people under the age of 18 live in poverty? What areas of the country have the most middle-aged people without health insurance? PolicyMap guides you through the steps to create custom maps with multiple data layers, tables and charts, and reports.

To illustrate median income distribution in Albemarle County, for example, search “Albemarle County” and click “Incomes & Spending” on the menu bar. Under “Income,” select “Family,” and then under “Median Family Income” select “All Families.” PolicyMap fills in the map with colors that represent income ranges for the latest five-year period for which there’s data—most of the northern half of the county is filled with the darkest color, which according to the legend represents the highest income range, and the southern half is filled with lighter shades representing lower incomes.

See screenshots below of “Estimated typical (median) income of a family between 2011–2015” (click images to enlarge). Note that the map is modified to include specified areas—counties and county subdivisions were selected from the “Map Boundaries” list.

The map is fully interactive. You can click through the income ranges that correlate to zip code tabulations to get pop-up listings that compare local median incomes against national, state, county, and Charlottesville Metro Area income.

For more resources like PolicyMap, please check the Library guide to new online resources. It’s updated daily!

Changes to Summer Bus Service Near Alderman Library

UVA’s Department of Transportation has announced changes in its summer bus service that will affect some routes near Alderman Library:

McCormick Road between Cabell Drive and Minor Hall will be closed June 12–August 11. The University Transportation Service (UTS) cannot not provide service along the east end of McCormick Road during this period, and will instead use a combination of Emmet Street and the west end of McCormick Road to provide service to and from Central Grounds.


  • #066: McCormick Road at Brown College
  • #068: McCormick Road at Clark Hall
  • #069: McCormick Road at Garrett Hall
  • #072: McCormick Road at Monroe Hall
  • #076: McCormick Road at UVA Chapel
  • #098: McCormick Road at Alderman Library


  • Central Grounds Shuttle—Copeley, U-Hall, Emmet/Ivy Garage, Facilities Management, UVA Chapel
  • Inner U-Loop—UVA Chapel, Mad/Preston, Health System, Scott Stadium
  • Outer U-Loop—Alderman Library, Scott Stadium, Health System, Mad/Preston
  • Northline—UVA Chapel, Barracks Rd Shopping Center, U-Hall, Alderman Library, Hereford


  • Beginning Monday, June 19, UTS route service will end at 10:00 p.m. (Monday–Friday), and Safe Ride will begin service at 10:00 p.m. Safe Ride will be available from 10:00 p.m.–7:30 a.m., Monday-Friday, and 12:30 a.m.–7:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Passengers may request Safe Ride service by calling 434-242-1122 or by using the TransLoc mobile app (this is the same app used to track UTS buses). A valid UVA ID is required to use Safe Ride.
  • Safe Ride is advised to keep a van near the Library at closing time to expedite any requests that come in after 10:00 p.m.

The Library Offers Access to the Papers of the American Civil Liberties Union, 1912-1990

Adversary of the political class and defender of the first amendment, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has never flinched from controversy and—in an era of polarized politics—is as relevant today as it’s ever been. Now, the Library offers UVA researchers the Papers of the ACLU, 1912-1990, an archive of some 18,000 documents recording the organization’s activity through most of the 20th century.

Bills, briefs, correspondence, court documents, legal case files, memoranda, minutes, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, telegrams, and reports of cases almost a century old continue to resonate. Search the name Mitchell Palmer, the U.S. Attorney General during the “Red Scare” of 1919–’20, and click through the volumes in which his name is highlighted. You’ll come to vol. 116 and a Report of the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice. It’s a defense of the rights of immigrant dissidents and an attack on the U.S. Justice Department’s round-up and deportation, without due process, of immigrants who were assumed to be terrorists in a wave of hysteria that swept the U.S. following the Russian Revolution. One signatory to the document was future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter.

Files covering the conscientious objector issue for the first World War alone fill over 37 volumes, and include case files, letters, and diaries containing statements of belief and first-person accounts of camp and prison conditions, the personal experiences of objectors in non-combat roles, newspaper clippings, and reports of persecution—the ACLU campaigned against the practice of chaining objectors to the bars of their cells.

The ACLU’s beginnings are documented in “The Roger Baldwin Years, 1912–1950,” while activities that touch modern memory are collected in “Years of Expansion, 1950–1990.” You can click “Visual Results” to plot the frequency of search terms on a graph. Typing the name Martin Luther King, Jr., for instance, creates a graph that peaks in 1965. Click points on the graph to get to the documents.

For more resources like Papers of the ACLU, 1912–1990, please check the Library guide to new online resources. It’s updated daily!

Planned Power Outage in Clemons Library, June 7–9

A power outage is planned in Clemons Library that will begin at 6:00 a.m. on June 7 and last through 3:30 p.m. on June 9. The outage is necessary to allow work to proceed on Clemons’ Total Advising center on the 2nd floor.

During this time there will be no power in the Digital Media Lab for computers, no lighting on the 4th floor, and possible outages to some outlets on the 4th floor.

Virginia Magazine Examines Changes to the Role of the Library at UVA

In a feature article “Next Chapter,” Virginia Magazine looks at change in the library system at UVA that began with its founding in the Rotunda and continues today with the growth of digital media and the evolution of the way library space is used by faculty, grads, and undergrads.

According to University Librarian John Unsworth, the print collection will continue to grow but will likely be used less than digital resources. He maintains, however, that the primary purpose of the Library will not change: “The most important thing you find in a library is a librarian, and the need for people with expertise in the field of information isn’t going to go away.” There will also be a need for partnerships with other libraries to make information free and accessible online, and a need for cooperation on digital scholarship within the Library—between the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) and the Scholars’ Lab, for instance.

As plans for Alderman Library’s renovation take shape, Unsworth encourages stakeholders to contribute their ideas about what a future Alderman should be. “We want faculty and students to identify the characteristics that they want to see in the collections on open shelves …The question is not how many, but which books should be in Alderman.”

Another way the Library has been addressing student needs is by redesigning its space. Senior Director of Administration and Planning Donna Tolson says, “For many students, the library is the place they go when they want to get work done … And we have made space for them to do that.”

Read more about the present and future development of the Library in the article Next Chapter (Virginia Magazine, Summer 2017).

Ivy Stacks Continues Service Uninterrupted During New Construction

The Library’s Ivy Stacks off-Grounds retrieval facility is not only expanding, it’s getting better. A new addition that will double Ivy Stacks’ capacity is being built with massive tilt-up concrete panels lifted into place by crane. The insulation inside the panels and fewer seams will help prevent moisture infiltration; a state-of-the-art HVAC system will cool Ivy’s mobile shelving to an optimal 55 degree Fahrenheit preservation standard even in the hottest months; and a rooftop solar array will help power the structure that includes a reading room for researchers. The construction, that will run from this summer to March of 2018, is happening with no interruption to service! The only anticipated inconvenience is that Library users may see slower delivery times.During construction, Ivy will continue retrieving VIRGO requests from its collection of the Library’s lesser-used items. The vast and varied collection belies Ivy’s reputation as a “storage facility.” Ivy is actually a functioning library, housing over one million items—not only books but LPs, rolls of microfilm, computer disks, music CDs, video laserdiscs, glass photographic negatives, issues of Charlottesville’s Daily Progress newspaper from 1895 to the present, everything available for checkout.

Amanda Visconti and Brandon Walsh Join Library Staff in Scholars’ Lab

The Library welcomes Amanda Visconti and Brandon Walsh, who began on April 24 in the Scholars’ Lab—Amanda as Managing Director, and Brandon as head of the Lab’s Graduate Programs. Amanda will assist Director Alison Booth in developing the Lab’s activities and overseeing staff, resources, and the budget. Brandon will oversee the Digital Humanities and Praxis fellows and an increasing number of undergraduate and graduate interns.

Amanda comes to UVA from Purdue University where she was an Assistant Research Professor & Digital Humanities Specialist Librarian. Amanda wrote the first entirely-digital dissertation in literary humanitiesInfinite Ulysses. Prior to that she earned an M.S. in Information, Digital Humanities, and Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, which included experience in the University of Maryland’s Institute for Technology in the Humanities. She recently initiated Digital Humanities Slack.

Brandon comes from Washington and Lee University where he was a Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of English. He has collaborated with the Praxis Program from Lexington, and helped to build a DH curriculum and center in W&L’s library. Brandon holds a Ph.D. in English from UVA; his dissertation, AudioTextual: Modernism, Sound Recordings, and Networks of Reception, provides a model of interdisciplinary work for our current graduate students, uniting sound studies, modernist literary studies, and DH. Brandon brings teaching skills (as shown by his participation HILT), and a proven ability to manage grant funds and host public events.

Welcome, Amanda and Brandon!

Explore Treasures of the Borges Collection in the First Floor Gallery of Special Collections

Please come to the First Floor Gallery of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library on May 3 at 3:00 p.m. and let curator Nora Benedict be your guide at the opening of the exhibition “‘Armar páginas, corregir pruebas’: Jorge Luis Borges as Author, Editor, and Promulgator,” about the life and works of the famed Argentinian author and Nobel Laureate.

In the display of treasures from the Library’s Borges Collection are rare first-editions of his fiction and examples of his work as a Spanish translator of Kafka, Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, and Melville among others.

Also featured is Borges’ influential literary criticism championing popular genres such as hard-boiled detective fiction with its dark, ambiguous themes that are reflected in his own fiction’s preoccupation with labyrinths and mirrors.

Cookies and lemonade will be served.

The Key to the Door: Special Collections’ Associate Professor and Research Archivist Ervin Jordan Contributes Lead Chapter to New Book on African Americans at the University of Virginia

Ervin L. Jordan Jr.’s essay, “Perseverance and Resilience: African Americans at the University of Virginia,” is the lead chapter for a new book on the African American experience at UVA. Jordan is an Associate Professor and Research Archivist at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

The book, The Key to the Door: Experiences of Early African American Students at the University of Virginia, explores the stories of some of the first black students at UVA and, through first person narrative, follows the story of African American students during the period of desegregation at the University. The book was edited by Maurice Apprey and Shelli M. Poe. Apprey is Professor of Psychiatry and Dean of African American Affairs at the University of Virginia, and Poe is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Vocation, Ethics, and Society at Millsaps College.

Jordan’s essay comprises a historical overview of African Americans at UVA from 1819-2016, in 17 sections, beginning with the history of enslaved African Americans at the University, through segregation and desegregation, and up to present day. A look at the section titles gives the reader some idea of the scope of this chapter alone:

Working without Wages
Invisible Faces, Forgotten Voices
Women of Labor
Continuity and Disruption
Echoes of an Enslaved Past
School of Segregation
First Applicant: Alice Jackson
First Admission: Gregory Swanson
First Graduate: Walter Ridley
Desegregation Decades: The 1960s and 1970s
First Faculty and Administrators
Organizations and Publications
Jefferson’s Gladiators: Athletes and Coaches
“Educate, Motivate, Liberate”: Upward Bound, the Office of African-American Affairs, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute
Enhancing the Community of Trust: The Honor System and Multiculturalism
Of Times and Generations: The Twenty-First Century
Bicentennial Coda: 1819 and 2019.

The Key to the Door is available through its publisher, the University of Virginia Press, as well as from the UVA Bookstores. Copies are currently being cataloged at the UVA Library and will be available soon.

Professor Ervin L. Jordan Jr. has been at the Small Special Collections Library since 1979. He specializes in Civil War and African-American history, and is the author of three books including Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia, named by Publisher’s Weekly as one of 1995’s best nonfiction books. He has more than 60 publications in academic and historical journals and encyclopedias including: The African American Odyssey; The Western Journal of Black Studies; Encyclopedia Virginia; New Perspectives on the Civil War; The Oxford Companion to American Military History; The Dictionary of Virginia Biography; The Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century; Virginia’s Civil War; Virginia at War, 1861; Virginia at War, 1865; and Voices from within the Veil: African Americans and the Experience of Democracy.

Jordan’s most recent public lectures include: “Monument Man: Robert E. Lee: America’s Most Honored Traitor” for the “Lightning Rods for Controversy: Civil War Monuments Past, Present & Future” symposium, Library of Virginia, (nationally broadcast live on C-SPAN3, February 2017); “Slave Lives Matters?: Race & Redemption at the University of Virginia” for “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History” conference, Harvard University, March 2017; “The Black Female Image at the University of Virginia,” Global History of Black Girlhood Conference, University of Virginia, March 2017. He is currently a member of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University; during the 11th Annual Donning of the Kente Ceremony for graduating fourth year students in 2015, Professor Jordan was one of two faculty members who received special recognition by UVA’s Office of African-American Affairs for contributions and dedication to students.