CLR Case Studies–Jefferson-Madison Regional Library

The Context

The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system in central Virginia serves the largest geographic area of any public library in Virginia, encompassing four counties and the independent city of Charlottesville. The library’s constituency of 162,000 includes the University of Virginia in Albemarle County, where 50 percent of adults are college educated, but also counties where 20-25 percent of adults have less than a high school education. The library employs 75 people to support a central library, a bookmobile, and eight branches. Of the branches, five serve rural communities. The library director, Donna Selle, describes the organization as a medium-sized library with a flat management structure. In 1995, the library collection included 402,179 items, the library circulated 1,455,783 items, and staff answered 108,322 reference questions. In 1994, the library received support of $19.85 per capita.

In 1981, the staff and services of the library’s central branch and regional headquarters moved into a larger civic building, the former Post Office building in the heart of Charlottesville. The renovated previous quarters, the McIntire Library building, became a library branch housing the local historical society and the joint local history collection of the library and the historical society. Charlottesville is a place where community history and civic buildings are a source of pride. Even in the electronic environment, a grass roots group representing community organizations has chosen to use pictures of civic buildings as icons on the opening screen of the Monticello Avenue community-based information network.