Celebrating a Full Year of VCU Libraries Community Zooms

June 2, 2021

When the VCU Libraries Community Zooms series began in April 2020, no one expected it to last more than a few months. It was meant simply as a way of staying connected to the VCU community during lockdown.

John Ulmschneider on Zoom

Session 9: John E. Ulmschneider reflects on
21 years of leading VCU Libraries.

In those early days, the scope remained modest. Sessions such as a virtual awards program for winners of two student contests and a walkthrough of the new library website emphasized library services, resources and initiatives and gave attendees the chance to chat, give feedback and feel a part of the ongoing life of the libraries.

Not only did the series continue as the pandemic did, but it evolved alongside the changing social, cultural and political landscape. Session seven, “Collaborative Poetry of Empowerment,” responded to the murder of George Floyd and marked the start of a gradual shift in focus from library-oriented material to material intended to start conversations on the concerns weighing upon Richmond and the world at large.

Duron Chavis on Zoom

Session 22: Duron Chavis discusses
the transformative power of urban resiliency gardens.

As the end of 2020 approached, the Friends of VCU Libraries Board Community Outreach and Engagement Committee designed a series of sessions titled “In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation” to highlight speakers from the Richmond area discussing social justice, innovation, health and change throughout the region. At this point, Community Zooms attendance began climbing dramatically.

“The idea for the ‘In Conversation’ series grew out of a conversation with board member and urban farmer Duron Chavis about how the concept of nourishment, of investing in things and helping them grow, is central to the libraries’ mission,” says Outreach and Engagement Committee Chair Ashley Kistler. “The series was conceived as a way to extend Black History programming beyond the month of February, in response to the extraordinary events that were then rapidly changing our civic landscape. A primary focus of these conversations is to bring wider recognition to local creatives and activists who are instrumental in foregrounding Black narratives at a crucial time in the city’s history.”

To date, the session with the highest day-of attendance has been session 26, featuring Chip Jones, author of The Organ Thieves. 248 people filled the virtual room. And people continue to watch videos of events across the whole series, which further increases their reach. Whereas in-person events typically attract people from the metro Richmond area, Community Zooms sessions have also attracted people from far beyond Virginia.

The Community Zooms series will continue to the end of 2021 and possibly beyond, even as COVID-19 precautions are lifted and in-person events become possible again in some capacity.

Below is a list of every Community Zooms session to date, with a link to the recording. Enjoy catching up on past sessions and share favorite videos with friends and colleagues.

Stay up to date on the series and make suggestions.

VCU Libraries Community Zooms Sessions

Session 1: April 30, 2020
Celebrating Preservation Week: Collections Care Activities at VCU Libraries and Preserving Your Personal Treasures

Session 2: May 7, 2020
Virtual Awards Program: Student Book Collecting Contest and VCU Libraries T-shirt Design Contest

Ana Edwards holds up a book, The Black Jacobins, on Zoom

Session 31: Ana Edwards discusses preservation
of Black history in Richmonds Shockoe Bottom.

Session 3: May 14, 2020
Finding Trusted Information About COVID-19

Session 4: May 21, 2020
Walkthrough of the New VCU Libraries Website

Session 5: May 28, 2020
Docent-guided Virtual Tour of VCU Libraries Gallery

Session 6: June 4, 2020
What’s Everyone Reading? Featuring Chop Suey Books
Reading List

Session 7: June 11, 2020
Collaborative Poetry of Empowerment
Poem Written Collaboratively by Attendees (The session itself was interactive and not conducive to a video recording.)

Session 8: June 18, 2020
They Closed Our Schools: Making a Documentary of Racial Injustice in Prince Edward County

Chip Jones on Zoom

Session 26: Chip Jones, author of The Organ Thieves,
explores the history of the first heart transplant in Va.

Session 9: June 25, 2020
21 Years of Leading VCU Libraries

Session 10: July 2, 2020
New Life for Old Books: Paper Flower Making Workshop

Session 11: July 9, 2020
Catching Up with VCUarts Qatar Libraries

Session 12: July 16, 2020
Aiming for Equality: The Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History Project

Session 13: July 23, 2020
Preserving Personal Treasures at Home

Session 14: July 30, 2020
The History and Impact of Advertising Icons

Session 15: Aug. 6, 2020
VCU Libraries: In the Interim

Session 16: Aug. 13, 2020
Cabinet of Wonders: Stories of Your Personal Treasures

Session 17: Aug. 20, 2020
Adèle Clark: The Artist as Activist

Chioke I'anson on Zoom

Session 24: Chioke IAnson, Ph.D., shares about
new community communictions initiatives at VCU.

Session 18: Aug. 27, 2020
Simple DIY Techniques for Making Books at Home

Session 19: Sept. 17, 2020
Nursing History: Virginia Style

Session 20: Oct. 7
What’s Everyone Reading?
Reading list

Session 21: Nov. 12, 2020
The Politics of Annexation: Oligarchic Power in a Southern City

Session 22: Dec. 3, 2020
Resiliency Gardens: Making a Difference Through Urban Farming
Part of the series “In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation”

Session 23: Dec. 17, 2020
What’s Everyone Reading? Fearing Black Swan Books
Reading List

Session 24: Jan. 21, 2021
Removing Barriers to Share Important Stories: The VPM + ICA Community Media Center
Part of the series “In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation”

Session 25: Feb. 11, 2021
Graphic Medicine at VCU Libraries

Kelly Justice holding up a copy of Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami on Zoom

Session 30: Fountain Bookstore owner
Kelly Justice leads a roundtable on pleasure reading.

Session 26: Feb. 25, 2021
The Organ Thieves

Session 27: March 11, 2021
Tackling Monumental History in Film

Session 28: April 8, 2021
How to Entice Them to Read—and Keep Reading: A Dozen Contemporary Classics for Kids

Session 29: April 15, 2021
Who We Are: What Historic African American Cemeteries Can Teach Us About Our Shared Past
Part of the series “In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation”

Session 30: April 29, 2021
What’s Everyone Reading? Featuring Fountain Bookstore
Reading List

Session 31: May 20, 2021
Reclaiming Richmond’s Black History in Shockoe Bottom
Part of the series “In Conversation: Nourishing Community Transformation”

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