Latest service and space updates: VCU Libraries COVID-19 response

VCU Libraries Community Zooms: Who Made It Happen? Visionaries and Organizers for Social Change


A series of brief virtual events designed for the VCU Libraries community, highlighting timely subjects, celebrating achievements, practicing creativity and more.

Sessions are held Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and last approximately a half hour to 45 minutes each. Attendees may join via Zoom. To receive a link to join the sessions, please complete this online form. For questions or accommodations, please contact the VCU Libraries Development Office at


Please complete this online form to receive the URL.

Upcoming Sessions

Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

Sept. 23, 2021
Who Made It Happen? Visionaries and Organizers for Social Change
Led by Alice W. Campbell
What sort of professional life could women have in early 20th-century Richmond? And what does that have to do with VCU today? Alice W. Campbell, digital outreach and special projects librarian, shares the little-known story of two dynamic organizers, Orie Latham Hatcher and Virginia McKenney Claiborne, who advocated for women's education and professional opportunities. Campbell is project manager for VCU Libraries' Social Welfare History Project.

Nov. 18, 2021
VCU Libraries: First Impressions and Dynamic Directions

Led by Irene Herold, Ph.D.
VCU Libraries welcomed Irene Herold, Ph.D., as its new dean of libraries and university librarian in August 2021, at the start of a pivotal semester in the history of VCU. As that semester now approaches an end, she reflects on the libraries' direction and her time in Richmond thus far and looks ahead to the spring semester and beyond.

Herold previously served as librarian of the college at the College of Wooster in Ohio, university librarian at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, dean of Mason Library at Keene State College, director of the Anne Bridge Baddour Library at Daniel Webster College and public services librarian at Monmouth College. She is the author of two books, Leading Together: Academic Library Consortia and Advocacy and Creating Leaders: An Examination of Academic and Research Libraries Leadership Institutes, as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters on academic libraries and library leadership.

Details of additional sessions coming soon.

Past Sessions

April 30, 2020
Celebrating Preservation Week: Collections Care Activities at VCU Libraries and Preserving Your Personal Treasures
Led by Nora Bloch
Find out how VCU Libraries protects its valuable collections of books, artifacts and art and learn how to preserve your own family treasures and documents in this session with Preservation Librarian Nora Bloch.

May 7, 2020
Virtual Awards Program: Student Book Collecting Contest and Friends of VCU Libraries T-shirt Design Contest
Led by Matteo Pangallo and Antonia Vassar
Meet the talented winners of these two contests for students and learn about their winning submissions and what inspires them.

May 14, 2020
Finding Trusted Information About COVID-19
Led by Dana Ladd and John Cyrus
The amount of information available on COVID-19 can be overwhelming. Librarians from the MCV Campus (Tompkins-McCaw Libary for the Health Sciences and the VCU Medical Center Health and Wellness Library) provide tips for identifying reliable health information and walk attendees through their detailed online guide. Resources for patients, health care providers and the community will be provided.

May 21, 2020
Walkthrough of the New VCU Libraries Website
Led by Ashley Brewer
Web Systems Librarian Ashley Brewer, who has led the recent redesign of the library website, guides attendees through the new site, discusses the decision-making process behind it and invites feedback.

May 28, 2020
Docent-guided Virtual Tour of VCU Libraries Galleries
Led by Alice Campbell
VCU Libraries offers dozens of digital exhibits in its online galleries. Digital Outreach and Special Projects Librarian Alice Campbell leads attendees through this virtual space, sharing highlights and tips on how to get the most from your own explorations.

June 4, 2020
What’s Everyone Reading?
Led by Ward Tefft of Chop Suey Books
As summer approaches, Ward Tefft of Chop Suey Books joins VCU Libraries in a roundtable about exciting new books and great summer reading projects. Attendees are invited to share about books they’re reading or planning to tackle this summer.

June 11, 2020
Collaborative Poetry of Empowerment

Led by Oscar Keyes and Gregory Kimbrell
Poetry has long been used as a tool of self-expression, protest and healing. In light of recent injustice, Multimedia Teaching and Learning Librarian Oscar Keyes and poet/event specialist Gregory Kimbrell lead a collaborative poetry activity using Google Docs that makes a great starter for meaningful conversations. No poetry expertise required.

June 18, 2020
They Closed Our Schools: Making a Documentary of Racial Injustice in Prince Edward County

Led by Brian Grogan of Mercy Seat Films
In 1959, local officials closed the public school system of Prince Edward County in defiance of the United States Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. the Board of Education. The closure demonstrated the intractable tenacity of racism and continues to have repercussions today. Filmmaker Grogan discusses his ongoing work on a documentary exploring this moment in history, as well as the recent book from University of Virginia Press, A Little Child Shall Lead Them: A Documentary Account of the Struggle for Education in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The book was co-edited by Brian Grogan and VCU Associate Professor of History Brian J. Daugherity, Ph.D.

June 25, 2020
21 Years of Leading VCU Libraries
Led by John E. Ulmschneider
In his two decades at VCU, University Librarian and Dean of Libraries John E. Ulmschneider has guided VCU Libraries through monumental changes for the university and for academic libraries as a whole. On the eve of his retirement, he shares reflections on his career and insights into the field of librarianship.

July 2, 2020
New Life for Old Books: Paper Flower Making Workshop

Led by Kelly Gotschalk
Old books can be great for making into new things. In this interactive workshop, Director of Development and VCUarts graduate Kelly Gotschalk demonstrates some simple techniques for turning outdated, worn, damaged, or tired books into beautiful paper flowers. If you want to follow along and make your own paper flowers during the session, have these items on hand:

  • Tools: low temp hot glue gun, scissors, small paint brush
  • Materials: old books, sticks or stems, paste

A video of the workshop will be shared afterward.

July 9, 2020
Catching Up with VCUarts Qatar Libraries

Led by Amy Andres
Interested in knowing what life has been like in Qatar during COVID-19 and how VCUarts Qatar’s fall semester is shaping up? Amy Andres, director of libraries and associate university librarian at VCUarts Qatar, shares what’s been happening and takes questions.

July 16, 2020
Aiming for Equality: The Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History Project

Led by Jessica Johnson
Starting in the 1910s, "Rosenwald Schools" were constructed for black students as a philanthropic endeavor funded in part by businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. Over a 15 year period, 4,977 schools, primarily for African Americans, were funded and built. According to Julius Rosenwald Fund (JRF) records, the JRF helped construct 367 schools, three teachers’ homes and eleven school (industrial) shops in Virginia. In this session, Jessica Johnson, processing archivist for Special Collections and Archives at Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences, explores the Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History digital collection, a landmark documentary project for preserving an important chapter in Virginia history.

July 23, 2020
Preserving Personal Treasures at Home

Led by Nora Bloch
Do you have family photos, old newspapers, scrapbooks and other items that are important to you sitting in boxes in your basement or attic? Learn the dos and don’ts of keeping them safe and what materials you’ll need for preserving them in this session featuring Preservation Librarian Nora Bloch.

July 30, 2020
The History and Impact of Advertising Icons
Led by Kelly O’Keefe and Pattie Sobczak
Former Brandcenter professor and managing director Kelly O’Keefe has been collecting memorabilia pertaining to advertising icons for more than 30 years. In this session, he explores favorite pieces from his collection, digitally available through VCU LIbraries Scholars Compass.

Aug. 6, 2020
VCU Libraries: In the Interim

Led by Teresa L. Knott
As VCU prepares for one of the most unusual and complicated years in its history, Teresa L. Knott, who joined VCU Libraries in 2009 as director of Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences, steps into her new role as interim dean of libraries. In this session, she talks about the reopening of the buildings, on-campus life during the pandemic and the future of VCU Libraries.

Aug. 13, 2020
Cabinet of Wonders: Stories of Your Personal Treasures

Led by Alice Campbell
Libraries collect materials of cultural and historical value. Library lovers are often collectors, too. But while our personal treasures may or may not have great cultural, historical or even monetary value, they do have meaning. In this session, we focus on these objects, from childhood drawings to vacation mementos, and the stories they tell. Digital Outreach and Special Projects Librarian Alice Campbell facilitates.

Interested in sharing one of your own treasures during the session?

Please sign up by sending a photo of your possession to Gregory Kimbrell at If there are details you want to point out, please also send close-ups. During the session, he will show your photos while you take three to five minutes to tell your possession’s story. If you can, please also bring the physical object with you to the session. We can’t wait to see what you share!

Aug. 20, 2020
Adèle Clark: Artist and Activist

Led by Ray Bonis
Adèle Clark (1882–1983) was a well known Richmonder who combined her vocation as an artist and educator with political activism to advance the rights of women and others for nearly seven decades. She was a founding member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia, longtime head of the Virginia League of Women Voters, a progressive reformer and a lobbyist. She advocated for racial cooperation throughout her life and support for public education during the Massive Resistance era in Virginia. In this session, Ray Bonis, senior research associate in Special Collections and Archives, previews a new online exhibit exploring her life, work and lasting impact.

Aug. 27, 2020
Simple DIY Techniques for Making Books at Home

Led by Andrea Kohashi
Learn how to make a book out of one sheet of paper as you hear about the Book Art Collection in Special Collections and Archives. Andrea Kohashi is a teaching and learning librarian in Special Collections and Archives and a practicing book artist.

To follow along with making a book, you will need:

  • a single sheet of paper (printer paper that is 8.5" x 11" is great to start with)
  • a pair of scissors

Sept. 17, 2020
Nursing History: Virginia Style

Led by Jodi Koste
VCU’s and Virginia’s strong nursing education and practice reach back into the 19th century, when a substantial medical infrastructure was needed to accommodate casualties of war and the needs of a rapidly growing state. In this session, Jodi Koste, archivist and head of Tompkins-McCaw Library Special Collections and Archives, explores the complex history of Virginia nursing from its roots to the present day.

Oct. 8, 2020
What’s Everyone Reading? Part 2

Led by Kelly Gotschalk and Gregory Kimbrell
The previous "What’s Everyone Reading?" session at the start of the summer was a hit with attendees. Now that fall is here, it’s time for a second installment. Friends of VCU Libraries members lead a roundtable about personal reading. Attendees are invited to share about books they’re reading, have recently read, or are planning to tackle in the coming months.

Nov. 12, 2020
The Politics of Annexation: Oligarchic Power in a Southern City
Led by John V. Moeser, Ph.D., and Rutledge M. Dennis, Ph.D.
Originally published in 1982, the book The Politics of Annexation explores the annexation of suburban areas by cities for tax, political and even racial purposes. In particular, it looks at Richmond’s racially motivated annexation of a part of Chesterfield, which continues to shape regional politics. More relevant than ever, the book has been reprinted through a partnership of VCU Libraries and the University of Richmond Libraries in a new free, digital edition. Authors John V. Moeser, Ph.D., professor emeritus of urban studies and planning at VCU, and Rutledge M. Dennis, Ph.D.,professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at George Mason University and the first coordinator of African American Studies at VCU, discuss the book.

Dec. 3, 2020
Resiliency Gardens: Making a Difference Through Urban Farming
Led by Duron Chavis
Duron Chavis, founder and director of Happily Natural Day and a member of the Friends of VCU Libraries Board, has transformed the asphalt parking lot beside the Institute for Contemporary Art into a resiliency garden. The garden is intended to help create a culture of urban farming and inspire city residents to make positive environmental and social change. In this session, Chavis discusses the vision for his project.

This session is a part of the series In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation, a series of VCU Libraries Community Zooms events sponsored by and organized with the input of the Friends of VCU Libraries, featuring speakers from the Richmond community discussing social justice, innovation, health and the evolution of the greater Richmond area.

Dec. 17, 2020
What’s Everyone Reading? Holiday Edition
Led by Nick Cooke, owner of Black Swan Books
Winter is here, so it’s time to put on festive sweaters, mull cider and read piles and piles of books. Nick Cooke, owner of Black Swan Books, leads a roundtable about personal reading. Attendees are invited to share about books they’re currently reading, have recently read or are planning to tackle in the coming months. Come ready to share and make recommendations. Bonus points for sharing winter- or holiday-themed books.

Jan. 21, 2021
Removing Barriers to Share Important Stories: The VPM + ICA Community Media Center
Led by Chioke I’Anson, Ph.D.
With the digital revolution of the last 25 years, traditional media has given way to newer forms of communication that allow for individuals to report the news and share stories. In this session, Chioke I’Anson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the VCU Department of African American Studies, talks about the new VPM + ICA Community Media Center at VCU and the impact that this can have in the local community, particularly in an era where local news reporting is dwindling and independent voices are more important than ever.

This session is a part of the series In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation, a series of VCU Libraries Community Zooms events sponsored by and organized with the input of the Friends of VCU Libraries, featuring speakers from the Richmond community discussing social justice, innovation, health and the evolution of the greater Richmond area.

Feb. 11, 2021
Graphic Medicine at VCU Libraries

Led by Cindy Jackson and Talicia Tarver

"Graphic medicine" is a term coined by Ian Williams, MD, to indicate the "intersection of the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare." Through graphic medicine, practitioners, patients and scholars have a medium through which they can discuss complex health topics using the type of storytelling reserved for comic books and graphic novels. VCU Libraries houses a number of graphic novels that have been used as key resources to discuss topics of health and wellness. In this session, Research and Education Librarian Talicia Tarver and Library Specialist for Comics Arts Cindy Jackson explore these resources and share a list of suggested readings.

Feb. 25, 2021
The Organ Thieves

Led by Chip Jones and Jodi L. Koste

Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist and author Chip Jones reveals how he took a new look at the first heart transplant at the Medical College of Virginia in 1968 in his new book, The Organ Thieves: The Shocking Story of the First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South.

He and Jodi L. Koste, archivist and head, Health Sciences Library Special Collections and Archives, will discuss his three-year-long research project and how it evolved into a close examination of the life and death of a Black man, Bruce Tucker, whose heart was taken from his body without any prior consent in Virginia’s first heart transplant operation in 1968. This led to the nation’s first wrongful death lawsuit over heart transplantation brought by a young Black trial lawyer named L. Douglas Wilder. Jones and Koste also will discuss the background of the organ transplant program at MCV and the community context in which it developed.

In partnership with the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

March 11, 2021
Tackling Monumental History in Film

Led by Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren
Hannah and Lance are Richmond-based documentary filmmakers producing a feature film called How the Monuments Came Down. The film, funded by VPM and the Virginia Film Office, uses Richmond’s monuments to explore the 150-year history of white supremacy and Black resistance in the city. Hannah and Lance will offer a sneak-peek of the film and discuss their process in determining how to tell an epic and timely story.

April 8, 2021
How to Entice Them to Read—and Keep Reading: A Dozen Contemporary Classics for Kids
Led by Leila Christenbury, Ed.D.
Getting kids excited about reading is a critical step toward academic success and life-long learning. Books can stimulate the imagination, inspire and teach in ways very different from other media, and in an age when many kids have videos, games, etc. at their fingertips, it’s important to find books that speak to and engage young adults directly. In this session, Leila Christenbury, Ed.D., Commonwealth Professor Emerita, VCU School of Education and expert on young adult literacy, discusses contemporary books with an outstanding track record for getting kids to start reading, including series books, historical fiction, adventure novels, nonfiction and graphic novels.

Sponsored by the Leila Christenbury Literacy Fund.

April 15, 2021
Who We Are: What Historic African American Cemeteries Can Teach Us About Our Shared Past

Led by Brian Palmer and Erin Hollaway Palmer
In the last six years, the Palmers have worked with many others to reclaim and restore East End Cemetery, the final resting place of thousands of Black Richmonders. Their work includes on-site restoration, documentation, community engagement, the collection of oral histories, archival images, primary documents and the construction of an interactive website. The Palmers’ research also dovetails with a longtime focus on preserving Black history in VCU Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives, which includes, among many other documents, the Virginia Black History Archives Collection.

This session is a part of the series In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation, a series of VCU Libraries Community Zooms events sponsored by and organized with the input of the Friends of VCU Libraries, featuring speakers from the Richmond community discussing social justice, innovation, health and the evolution of the greater Richmond area.

April 29, 2021
What’s Everyone Reading?
Led by Kelly Justice, owner of Fountain Bookstore

At last, it’s spring, a time of renewal, also a time of looking forward to enjoying the fresh air and reading books outdoors on the porch or in the garden. For this session, Kelly Justice, owner of Fountain Bookstore, joins VCU Libraries in a casual conversation about books and the pleasures of reading. Attendees are invited to share about books they’re currently reading, have recently finished or have in their to-read stack. Bonus points for springlike background images on Zoom or for actually being outside.

May 20, 2021
Reclaiming Richmond’s Black History in Shockoe Bottom
Led by Ana Edwards
To a great extent, the struggle to reclaim Richmond’s Black history and that of slavery’s role in the city’s early growth has also been about changing the priorities for civic planning and development. In this session, Ana Edwards, chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, leads a discussion on how efforts to acknowledge the history of Black life in Richmond include making it visible in the public landscape in ways designed to affirm facts, impart memory and anticipate the future.

This session is a part of the series In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation, a series of VCU Libraries Community Zooms events sponsored by and organized with the input of the Friends of VCU Libraries, featuring speakers from the Richmond community discussing social justice, innovation, health and the evolution of the greater Richmond area.

June 17, 2021
Spies, Pirates, Lions and Literature: US-Moroccan Relations and the Bicentennial of the American Legation in Tangier

Led by Michael A. Toler
The Old American Legation in the medina (walled city) of Tangier, Morocco is unique in several ways. Gifted to the United States by the Moroccan Sultan in 1821, the Legation was the first property the United States owned abroad. It was an active diplomatic presence longer than any other site, and is the only site on the National Register of Historic Places located abroad. Today the structure houses a museum, cultural center and research library, maintained by a US-based NGO and a small local staff.

In this presentation, Michael A. Toler, an alum of VCU and the Archnet content manager in the Aga Khan Documentation Center, MIT Libraries, sets out to challenge some common perceptions about power and its hierarchies by taking a closer look at the Legation’s history, including correspondence between the Moroccan sultan and US presidents in the late 18th century, the role of the Legation when Tangier was an International Zone, the Second World War and the new role of the Legation in the local community since opening as a museum in 1976. It also touches upon some unusual episodes in the Legation’s history, such as the pair of lions who briefly resided on-premises and the dispatching of American Marines in a case of mistaken identity.

Co-sponsored by VCU Alumni.

July 22, 2021
A History Lover’s Guide to Richmond
Led by Kristin T. Thrower Stowe
Richmond joins the ranks of US cities represented in the popular History Lover's Guide series from the History Press. The series offers substantial yet readable accounts of major historical events and landmarks, as well as lesser known but important episodes and sites off the beaten path. In this session, author Kristin T. Thrower Stowe discusses the research, selection process and storytelling that went into writing A History Lover’s Guide to Richmond.

Thrower Stowe has an MA in history and an MT in secondary history and social studies from VCU, as well as a school librarian postgraduate certificate from Longwood University. Her first book, Miller & Rhoads Legendary Santa Claus (Dietz Press, 2001), explores a Richmond holiday tradition that began in the Miller & Rhoads department store.

Aug. 26, 2021
Studying Richmond’s Urban Environment Using Citizen Science

Led by Stephen S. Fong, Ph.D.
Variations in our surroundings can have significant impacts on our quality of life. While many of these environmental factors seem intuitive, a better understanding of impacts on health and wellbeing can be achieved through simple measurements that engage citizen volunteers. In 2017, a heat island study was conducted in Richmond, Va. to show variation in surface air temperatures in different neighborhoods that can be associated with health impacts and are tied to historical policies. In July 2021, this study was expanded by measuring air quality around the city. In this session, Stephen S. Fong, Ph.D., will discuss the process, results and opportunities for engagement in studying and building environmental resiliency in Richmond.

Fong is a professor in the VCU Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering and received his Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego. He is also the director of the Center for Integrative Life Sciences Education, co-lead of the Sustainable Food Access iCubed Core and director of the Integrative Life Sciences Doctoral Program at VCU.

This session is a part of the series In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation, a series of VCU Libraries Community Zooms events sponsored by and organized with the input of the Friends of VCU Libraries, featuring speakers from the Richmond community discussing social justice, innovation, health and the evolution of the greater Richmond area.


Prior to joining a session, attendees are encouraged to check that Zoom is working properly on their computers or devices by testing it at

At the start of every session, attendee’s microphones will be muted. This allows everyone to hear the organizers and presenters clearly. Attendees will be invited to unmute their microphones and speak at different times during the session.

If you have questions or comments while others are speaking, you can type them in the chat or, if the chat is unaccessible, contact Gregory Kimbrell, the chat moderator, by text at (804) 393-2951 or by email at

As at physical events, attendees are asked to help make sessions inclusive of all participants by using respectful language and allowing others to speak, even if they disagree with viewpoints being expressed.

VCU Libraries reserves the right to remove attendees from sessions for disruptive behavior.

Be advised that VCU Libraries will record all sessions for its private archives but may make use of the recordings for future projects, including publicity.

Image: Photo by Allie Smith from Unsplash