Virginia Beach Public Library System

Virginia Beach Public Library System

Virginia Beach Public Library (VBPL), located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, provides free access to accurate and current information and materials to all individuals, and promotes reading as a critical life skill. The library supports the educational and leisure needs of Virginia Beach citizens with a system of area libraries, a Central Library, a Bookmobile, a virtual library, the Wahab Public law Library, the Municipal Reference Library and the Special Services for the Blind and Visually Handicapped.


VBPL has 13 locations including a youth library, a law library, a virtual library and a Bookmobile. The different library buildings range in size from the large 90,000 square foot Central Library on busy Virginia Beach Boulevard to the much smaller Pungo Blackwater Library incorporated into the Creeds Elementary School on Princess Anne Road. Library locations included: Central Library, Bayside Special Service Library, Great Neck Area Library, Kempsville Area Library, Oceanfront Area Library, Princess Anne Area Library, Pungo-Blackwater Library, South Rosemont Youth Library, Windsor Woods Area Library.

Reference and Information Services

VBPL offers citizens multiple ways to ask the library for assistance: telephone, in person, email and instant message (IM). Telephone, in person and email assistance are available during normal library hours:
* Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
* Saturdays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
* Sundays 1 - 5 p.m. (1st Sunday after Labor Day - May)

Ask VBPL, the library's virtual reference via IM is available during the following hours:
* Monday - Thursday 3 - 7 p.m.
* Saturdays 1 – 5 p.m.

Anyone can ask the library a question via IM without having their own personal IM account. Customers need to type a question in the Ask VBPL box on the [ Ask the Library web page] .

Library Governance and Support

The library is governed by a 13 member Advisory Board which is appointed by City Council and includes city, school and teen members. In addition to the funding provided by the city and the state, the library is supported by the Friends of the Virginia Beach Public Library. The Friends provide more than $128,000 of annual funding for library programs. The Virginia Beach Library Foundation, with assets of over $1 million, also supports the Library by funding large initiatives such as Ready to Learn and the International Language Collection.

Library History

The first Virginia Beach library was organized in 1930 by Emily Johns with a generous donation of funds, land and books from the president of the Norfolk-Southern Railroad. By 1935, two thousand books were available for circulating to community residents and visitors. Originally a subscription library, permanent residents paid one dollar a year to take home an unlimited quantity of reading materials while visitors were charged five cents a day for each book rented.

In 1959, the Junior Woman's Club, the Woman's Club of Princess Anne County and other civic groups organized a community drive for a city and county supported library. Through this effort, the community was able to open its first public lending library at the corner of 22nd and Pacific in the old telephone building during May of that same year.

The library grew steadily afterward; in October 1959, Bookmobile services began. The first branch opened several years later in 1962 in the Green House at the corner of Virginia Beach and Independence Boulevards.

Other area libraries followed: 1966- Windsor Woods Area Library, 1967- Bayside Area Library, 1969- Kempsville Area Library, 1972- Law Library and Municipal Reference Library, 1976- Great Neck Area Library, 1978- a new Oceanfront Area Library, 1988- Central Library, 1990- Pungo-Blackwater Library, 2000- Pungo-Blackwater Library became attached to Creeds Elementary School, 2003- Princess Anne Area Library.

Library Leadership

Library Director

Marcy Sims is the current director of the Virginia Beach Public Library System. She holds a Masters in Library Science from the University of North Carolina and a Masters in Public Administration from Old Dominion University. Since becoming a librarian in 1976, she has over 37 years experience in public libraries. In just the past six years under her leadership, the City has opened two new libraries, replaced three libraries and renovated the reminaing libraries for a total capital investment of over $26 million. Marcy currently serves as the chairperson for the City of Virginia Beach's Quality Education and Lifelong Learning Strategic Issue Team and on several other community boards and organizations

Library Executive Team

The Library Executive Team provides leadership and coordination for the department under the direction of the Library Director. The team consists of the following members: Library Director, Service Development Manager, Public Services Manager and the Administrative Services Manager.

Library Agencies and Division Managers

The library department consists of a system of seven area libraries, a Central Library, a Youth library, a Bookmobile, a virtual library, the Wahab Public law Library, the Municipal Research and Records Center and the Special Services for the Blind and Visually Handicapped as well as the following divisions: Automated Services, Cataloging Services, Collection Management, Library Administration and Youth and Family Services.

Special Collections

The Virginia Beach Public Library has a collection of more than 1,000,000 items. The collection includes books, audio books, music CDs, videos and DVDs, books in large type, and magazines and newspapers. The Library subscribes to numerous online reference sources and digital ebook and audiobook services. In addition, the collection includes special subject collections.

Grants Collection

The Grants Collection of print and electronic resources providing access to essential information related to grantsmanship, educational and research funding, as well as literature on proposal-writing, fundraising, nonprofit management, and philanthropy. Part of the Grants Collection is a cooperating collection of the Foundation Center, an independent national service organization in New York. Due to licensing restrictions, this cooperating collection is available only at the Virginia Beach Central Library. In addition, the Grants Resource Center includes other materials in both print and electronic format on scholarships, fellowships, grants, and other funding opportunities for individuals and nonprofit organizations from private, corporate, and federal funding agencies.

International Language Collection

The International Language Collection includes books, spoken recordings, and DVDs in the following languages: Spanish, Tagalog, French, German, Russian, Japanese and Latin. These materials are available at the Central, Great Neck, Kempsville, Oceanfront, Princess Anne, and Pungo Blackwater Libraries.

Strategic Focus Areas

The Virginia Beach Public Library organizes it's work and strategic planning around the following focus ares:

Access to Information

Our citizens think of the Library first when they need information - information for their business, their families, their daily life decisions, their health, their entertainment, their cultural enrichment. Library staff expertly guide customers in their use of information resources by helping them locate and evaluate what they find. Through a planned approach to the implementation of information technologies, the Library organizes vast amounts of information into structured knowledge for customers to access, assimilate and find meaning in it. The Library maintains a central role within the City in organizing and providing access to community information and opportunities to support an informed and engaged citizenry.

Promotion of Reading as a Critical Life Skill

The Library is not an information center alone: it is a center for knowledge and learning. The Library actively promotes the development of reading skills in young children and offers families support and resources to function effectively as their children's "first teacher." The Library further promotes reading by people of all ages for lifelong learning, creative solitude, self-renewal and economic and social prosperity. "Reading is a means to education; education is a means to knowledge; knowledge is a means to power and a bright future." (Vartan Gregorian)

The Library as a Place

Residents and visitors see imaginative architecture and site designs that places well-conceived libraries on sites well-suited for them. Our library buildings make our customers feel good by just walking in. Customers experience libraries that are comfortable, safe, aesthetically pleasing, welcoming, user-friendly, efficient, clean and accessible. They are designed to protect individual privacy while offering inviting ways for people to come together in a public place. However, customers also experience options of convenience so they can access library and other City services without coming in or to a library building.

The Library as a Community Builder

The Library is a significant contributor to the development of a sense of community in Virginia Beach. Citizens participate in a myriad of interactive forums on topics of interest. Programs at the Library and throughout the community continually draw capacity crowds to learn practical skills, experience our rich heritage and celebrate reading. The Library is perceived as a cultural center of the community, in which the diversity of our citizenry, their interests and their viewpoints are celebrated.

Library Leadership

Library leaders are also leaders in the City and the community. They assertively translate the vision of the City as articulated in the City Strategy and the aligned vision of the Library as articulated in the LLT work into actions, adeptly applying the core strategies and values. They are confident in their understanding and support of the vision of the future, see the important role they play in achieving it and articulate their enthusiasm for the future to staff and customers. The community understands and supports the Library's mission and vision as a result of the positive relationships and partnerships that Library leaders have created and nurtured with customer and community groups. Our leaders know how to cultivate the fullest expression of capacity among our staff members and enjoy the challenges of the unexplored and the possible. Their view is toward the future, anticipating adjustment and response. While some staff members are designated as leaders, all members help one another make every library moment a meaningful and enjoyable one for our customers.

Work Environment

Library staff recognize the importance of their jobs to achieving City Council's vision of Virginia Beach as a Community for a Lifetime and take pride in providing quality customer service every day. They feel confident in their personal ability to serve our customers and have the tools to do it well. Every staff member contributes positively to a work environment that reflects the organizational values of leadership and learning, quality customer service, teamwork, openness and respect, integrity, commitment and quality work life. Staff members welcome contact with each other and with our customers. They thrive in an environment of change and tailor each customer interaction to the person and the moment, knowing that the library redefines itself in each moment of customer experience. Members feel challenged every day to learn, create, think, solve problems, and be kind to one another. A sense of spirit and enthusiasm pervades the workplace.


The Virginia Beach Public Library is in the lifelong learning business. We recognize that an individual's capacity for lifelong learning begins even before birth and continues through one's lifetime. Therefore, the entire community and each individual within it are our customers. The library is not only a source of information, knowledge and learning but is also a forum for "self-education, progress, self-help, autonomy, liberation, empowerment and self-determination." (Vartan Gregorian)

Used with permission from the Virginia Beach Public Library System.

External links

* [ Virginia Beach Public Library]
* [ Online Catalog]
* [ Online Reference Sources]
* [ Library Programs]
* [ Ask VBPL]
* [ Library Hours and Directions]
* [ Local History - Building The Community Through the Past]

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