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VIVA Outreach Committee

The Outreach Committee promotes and publicizes VIVA and its resources and advocates VIVA's funding needs and the benefits that VIVA confers to appropriate agencies, organizations and legislative groups.



Virginia Heritage Project Provides Access to Manuscript Collection

The Virtual Library of Virginia
For Immediate Release: Fairfax, Virginia 6/11/2001

Virginia Heritage Project Database Now Available

VIVA, the Virtual Library of Virginia, is pleased to announce the availability of VIRGINIA HERITAGE (, a database of guides, or finding aids, describing archives and manuscripts in eleven repositories in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The participating institutions are: the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, George Mason University, the Library of Virginia, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Historical Society, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the Virginia Military Institute, Virginia State University, and Washington and Lee University. At present, there are 1600 finding aids in the database. Records in the database conform to the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard for encoding archival finding aids. The full text of the finding aids is searchable by keyword and by individual institution.

The University of Virginia, representing VIVA, was awarded a  $250,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to implement the Virginia Heritage project. This NEH grant will help to improve access to a rich trove of primary source documents held by Virginia libraries.  From the settlement at Jamestown in 1607, through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and into the tumult of the 20th century, the Commonwealth of Virginia has stood at the center of America's history. Many of the priceless documents of American history, literature and political thought reside in the special collections of Virginia's colleges, universities, and other research libraries.

"We estimate that there are about 25,000 finding aids representing some 30 million manuscripts and 16 million archives, to convert,” said Edward Gaynor, project director at the University of Virginia Library. The Virginia Heritage project established its EAD processing center at the University of Virginia, which will provide the technological leadership for the project. As the first phase of the project, the processing center will encode and provide online access to approximately 15,000 pages of finding aids representing more than 500 collections on African-American history and culture that are drawn from all eleven participating institutions. In addition, the processing center will encode 5,000 related pages drawn from the University of Virginia's Virginiana collections, which are rich in resources that will help to place the African-American materials in context.

"While 1600 out of 25,000 may not seem like much," commented Susan Riggs, project director at the College of William and Mary, "for us, it marks the end of a period of struggle to get this initial phase done, and the beginning of a very exciting time. It is crucial that detailed information about unique Virginia collections be easily available over the Internet. More and more, students and faculty make the Web their first research stop."

Added Jodi Koste, project director at Virginia Commonwealth University's Tompkins-McCaw Library, "We hope that this project will not only provide improved access to collections, but will also provide the expertise to move forward on conversion of all finding aids within Virginia. The manuscript and archival collections in the Commonwealth of Virginia are incredibly rich primary research resources, and those of us who care for them want to make it easier for people to find what is here, and use it."

VIVA, the Virtual Library of Virginia is the consortium of the libraries of the 39 state-assisted colleges and universities <at 52 campuses> within the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, 32 independent <private, non-profit> institutions and The Library of Virginia participate where possible. VIVA’s mission is to provide, in an equitable, cooperative, and cost-effective manner, enhanced access to library and information resources for Virginia’s academic libraries serving the higher education community. VIVA is sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). < >

For more information about VIRGINIA HERITAGE, contact Edward Gaynor at  or at (804) 924-3138.


For additional information contact:
Katherine A. Perry
VIVA Director
B222 Fenwick Library
George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia 22030-4444
Tel.: <703> 993-4652







VIVA is funded by the Virginia General Assembly and the VIVA member institutions, and is sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV).