Nelson Memorial Library

Nelson Memorial Library
Monday 1pm - 7pm — curbside and appointments
Tuesday - Thursday 9:30am - 5pm — curbside and appointments
Friday 9:30am - 5pm — curbside only
Saturday 9:30am - 4pm — curbside and appointments

Phone: 434.263.5904
Fax: 434.263.5988
Email Us

Jump to: Programs and Events | Volunteer

Appointment Service at Nelson Memorial

Jump to: Curbside Service

On September 21st, we will start offering appointments to come into the library for you to be able to:

  1. Use a computer
  2. Make copies and send faxes
  3. Check out books

(Please note that there are some library services that we are not offering at this time such as notary service, extended library stay visits, meeting room space, etc.)

You will need to call the library (434.263.5904) ahead of time in order to make an appointment. During that phone call we will be verifying with you the details of your visit. You can only book one appointment per day. We are limiting the number of patrons to 5 at a time. You must agree to wear a mask covering your nose and mouth at all times while you are in the building and to practice social distancing. If you do not have a mask, JMRL will provide one for you. When you arrive at the library we are asking you to stay in your vehicle until the time of your appointment in order to ensure social distancing. Each group will be given 45 minutes in the library after which we will be cleaning the library for the following group.

The library will continue to offer curbside service for those patrons who wish to use that service.

Thank you very much for your cooperation. We’re glad to have you back at the library!

Curbside Pickup at Nelson Memorial

If you currently have a hold at Nelson, we will call you to set up a date and time for you to come and pick up your items.

We will have your items ready on the day and time that you have requested. Your items will be checked out to you on that day. Please pull up to the table in the parking lot marked "Pick Up Here". Your items will be in a bag on that table with your name on it. The table has been placed on the driver’s side so that you can just roll your window down and pick your books up. If you have books to return there is a bin at that same table for you to drop your books. Please remain in your vehicle. There is a staff member close by to monitor curbside service but we are striving for this service to be completely contactless.

If you are arriving without an appointment, please call 434.263.5904. Staff will give you instructions and serve you as quickly as possible.

  • All returns must be placed in the book bin at the pick up table.
  • Branches can not accept donations of books or media at this time.
  • The building is closed to the public. Restrooms are not available.

Thank you very much for your cooperation. We’re glad to have you back at the library!


Virtual Tech Tutorials

Need help with your device or downloading ebooks and audiobooks to your phone or tablet? Looking for assistance organizing photos, or just have general questions about using your device? Contact Chris at to arrange a Zoom tutorial with a JMRL Librarian (up to 45 minutes).

Programs at Nelson

Looking for more programs? All JMRL programs are currently virtual, which means you can participate at any branch no matter where you live. Check the Programs Calendar to see everything available to you. Find previous programs and virtual storytimes on the JMRL YouTube Channel.

History of Nelson Memorial Library

After the War

Old Presbyterian Church
Old Presbyterian Church

Library service to Nelson County was provided as early as the late 1940’s by volunteers from the Nelson County Garden Club. They maintained a collection of books which had been donated as a memorial to the service men and women of World War II. The books were housed in a former Presbyterian Church (circa 1888) that was owned by the Garden Club.

In 1966, members of the Nelson County Chamber of Commerce and other county organizations met with representatives of the Virginia State Library to explore the possibility of organizing a public library and providing bookmobile service. In 1970, the Chamber commissioned the writing of a book which would tell the story of the devastation in Nelson County caused by Hurricane Camille in 1969. Proceeds from the sale of Torn Land were to be used to build a memorial library.

Encouraged by interest in public library service, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors appointed a committee in 1972 to further investigate the possibilities. They discovered that participation in a regional library system would allow Nelson County to tap into funding sources and library resources not otherwise available to them.

Early Days

In September 1972, the Nelson Memorial Branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library opened its doors to the public. The white-frame church building on Front Street was an immediate success. The first branch manager was Laura Turner, a former school teacher.

Circulation of books at the Nelson Memorial Library increased dramatically over the years. In 1972-73, there was a circulation of 7,157 books. In 1987-88, circulation was 46,570. Patron usage, program attendance, and bookstock has also shown large increases. It became apparent that the library had outgrown its charming but cramped quarters. The book collection had increased greatly and there was simply not enough room for the books. Attractive programs sponsored by the Friends of the Library often drew crowds of over 100 people.

Looking for a New Home

Around 1980, the County Chamber of Commerce renewed its fund-raising efforts. They actively solicited donations to the Torn Land Fund. In 1985, the C&P Telephone Company donated one of their local buildings. Proceeds from the later sale of this building were added to the fund.

In March 1983, a group of interested volunteers met to organize a local Friends of the Library who sought to push for a new library and increased hours of operation. The Friends also sponsored many programs and fund-raising activities. Land adjacent to Lovingston Elementary School was later donated by the School Board.

In 1986, JMRL and Nelson County were awarded a federal LSCA Title II grant through the Virginia State Library. Other funding was provided by the Nelson County Chamber of Commerce, the Torn Land Memorial Trust Fund, the JMRL and Nelson Memorial Friends, the County of Nelson and numerous individuals and businesses. The new building would be a community effort and a source of pride for all.

The New Building

Current building
Current building

Construction began after a formal groundbreaking ceremony in January 1987. In May 1988, the move was made into the new building. In addition to its regular offerings of books, periodicals, videos and books on tape, the Nelson Memorial Branch also provides Internet access to the public, a very popular service initiated by the Nelson County Library Advisory Committee and funded by the Torn Land Memorial Trust Fund. The meeting room, heavily used for public meetings and library programs, doubles as an art gallery with exhibits changing every two months. The Nelson County Visitors Center is located on the lower level of the library and a collection of local history materials and cemetery records is maintained by the Nelson County Historical Society.

Moving Forward

Current building
Current building

Currently, the branch is staffed by one fulltime manager and 3 part time staff members who are assisted by dedicated volunteers.  Approximately 40% of Nelson County residents have a library card. In addition to a collection of 28,000 items, the library offers eBooks through Overdrive for all those patrons who prefer electronic reading or listening. Computers are available for public use as well as wireless internet service. Weekly story times for preschoolers as well as numerous programs are presented for children and young adults.

Since the current building was opened, the collections and services have increased so that the Library has outgrown the available space. The Torn Land Committee and the Nelson County Library Advisory Committee commissioned an architect to assess the current building and to plan for an addition. State requirements indicate that at least double the current space is needed to serve the size of the Nelson County population. A recent community survey reinforced this need, since patrons are asking for more space for computers and seating.


Dedicated to the memory of the Nelson County victims of 1969’s devastating Hurricane Camille, the present-day Nelson Memorial Branch Library is a lasting memorial and, as well, a testimonial to the dreams, dedication, and hard work of the people of Nelson County who love and appreciate their library.