Nelson Memorial Library

Nelson Memorial Library
Nelson Memorial Library Hours of Service are:
Monday - Tuesday: 9:30 am - 7 pm
Wednesday - Thursday - Friday: 9:30 am - 5 pm
Saturday: 9:30 am - 4 pm
Sunday - Closed

Phone: 434.263.5904
Fax: 434.263.5988
Email Us

Jump to: Programs and Events | Volunteer


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? Call 434.973.7893 x4 to arrange a Zoom tutorial with a JMRL Librarian (up to 45 minutes).

Activities at Nelson

Celebrating Black History Month

For all ages, join us for a new program each week recognizing Award Winning Authors and Illustrators!

2/6 - 2/11: Celebrate with the Coretta Scott King Award winners by helping create a display quilt.

2/13 - 2/18: Celebrate with the John Steptoe New Talent Award by helping create an illustrator's mural.

2/21 - 2/15: Celebrate with the Phillis Wheatley Award by completing some well known poetry with a new twist.

2/27 - 3/4: Celebrate with the Carter G Woodson Award by voting on a social science book that you would choose for children that promotes ethnicity.

Find out more about how JMRL is celebrating Black History Month

Programs at Nelson

Looking for more programs? 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

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.

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. Patron usage, program attendance, and use of the collection showed 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.

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.

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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 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.

Construction began after a formal groundbreaking ceremony in January 1987. In May 1988, the move was made into the new building. The building included a large room for books, a circulation desk area, a large meeting room, and an open area for staff to work. Under the direction of Tanith Knight, the library flourished and again quickly outgrew its available space.

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In the late 1990's an assessment of the building was conducted. At that time state requirements indicated that the current space should be at least doubled in to order to serve the size of the Nelson County population. A community survey reinforced this need as patrons were asking for additional computer and seating areas.

In 2019, after 31 years of use and in the year of the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Camille, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to renovate and expand the library space. A 2.5 million dollar construction project ensued. Under the direction of Architectural Partners of Lynchburg, Virginia, in July of 2019 Jamerson Lewis Construction Company began to update the 1987 building. The new plans included additional space to house the children's, young adult, and genealogy/reference collection as well as a state of the art circulation center. The expansion included a large spacious area for the adult collection, three designated reading areas, a large computer lab, business center, and three meeting room spaces.

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A committee formed by citizens of Nelson County called "Grow Nelson Library" simultaneously raised funds to enlarge the collection and add 21st century hardware for the new facility. With a goal of raising $500,000, this committee launched a letter writing campaign, conducted a variety of fundraising activities, and wrote grants to achieve this goal. Despite the slowdown forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, in August of 2020 this committee was able to celebrate surpassing this goal. Besides being able to add over eight thousand new items to the library, these funds were also used to install a commemorative garden with engraved bricks purchased by patrons of the library. In addition, plans for a new library outreach vehicle to enhance the library's ability to bring services to remote areas of the county were able to move forward.

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This beautiful new facility is not only a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Camille, but also a reflection of this community and its leaders for recognizing the importance of the Library as a center for community life in Nelson County.

Nelson Memorial Library