Get a Card and an Online Account for the Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia, our official state library, is located in Richmond and offers numerous collections and titles not available in any of the CRRL branches. The sign-up process to get a Library of Virginia library card or online account is different from ours, but it's worth it!

Whether you wish to get a library card for closed stacks and special collections access or create an online account to access basic materials and online collections, there’s a way for you to obtain the level of access that serves your needs.

2019 marked a major change in the Library of Virginia’s account policies. On June 5, the Library implemented a new online account system, and all users with accounts created prior to June 5 are required to renew their accounts and library cards via the new system.

If you have an existing card, do not throw it away - it can still be linked to the new account system if you follow the procedure to migrate your account.

Renewing Your Existing Library of Virginia Account

The Library of Virginia has separate procedures for renewing an existing account and creating a new account. To renew an online account without also getting a physical library card, you need a valid Virginia driver’s license or state ID card. 

To renew a Library of Virginia card attached to an account, which you can also do online, you need your Library of Virginia card number and a valid Virginia driver’s license or state ID card. Please be aware that if you submit faulty information, you may have your library privileges suspended, so make sure your info is correct before you apply.

You may also renew your Library of Virginia card in person at the Library of Virginia’s physical location with a valid photo ID and proof of state residence. The Library is located in downtown Richmond, adjacent to a parking garage that is free for its visitors.

Creating a New Library of Virginia Account

First-time registrants for Library of Virginia accounts must use this form to sign up for your online account. Again, you will need a valid driver’s license or state ID to do so, and LVA staff will use this information to confirm your identity through the Department of Motor Vehicles database.

 After your online account is confirmed, you can then use your driver’s license or ID number to access online services, such as the Library’s subscription databases.

Applying for a separate, physical library card will allow you to utilize more of the Library’s services, such as viewing books from the closed stacks, accessing Archives & Manuscripts, as well as its Special Collections. 

You will need more information to obtain a library card than an online account; you must visit the Library in person, present a valid photo ID, and have your picture taken in addition to the info required for an online account. Note that you only need to visit the Library to obtain the card; once you have it, you can renew it online.  

If you have additional questions about acquiring a Library of Virginia card or wish to contact a LVA staff member for assistance, please consult the Library's FAQ page.

A wealth of useful, educational, and entertaining materials can be found at the Library of Virginia. Although an onsite visit is required for new users to obtain the library card itself, its collection is well worth it, offering such things as digital map and photograph collections, an expansive catalog, and numerous research guides

Here are four LVA databases that may prove especially useful to genealogists and family historians:

American History Collection: People of the Founding Era
Provides biographical information for over 75,000 men and women born between 1713 and 1815, drawn from the digitized papers of the founding fathers and other documentary editions of the Founding Era collection.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index
An index to reference works containing multiple biographies such as biographical dictionaries, who’s who publications, subject encyclopedias, and literary criticism volumes.

Mountain People: Life and Culture in Appalachia (1750-1950)
Includes diaries, journals and narratives of explorers, emigrants, military men, Native Americans, and travelers. There are also family histories, folklore, and accounts regarding the development of farming and mining communities. These chronicles provide details regarding the social, political, economic, scientific, religious and agricultural characteristics of the communities in the vast region between Lexington, Kentucky and Winchester, Virginia, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Birmingham, Alabama.

Proquest History Vault. Southern Life and African American History, 1775-1915, Plantation Records (Parts 1 and 2)
Business records include ledger books, payroll books, cotton ginning books, work rules, account books, and receipts. Personal papers include family correspondence, diaries, and wills. The collection includes items from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida plantations.

The Library of Virginia is a great companion research site, providing additional resources and filling in the gaps of a public library’s collection. Take advantage of your Virginia residency and utilize it to its fullest. Our state library has a wealth of historical and educational resources to offer!