Jefferson-Madison Regional Library

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The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library (JMRL) is a multi-branch library system serving the City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Greene, Louisa and Nelson.

JMRL's mission states: "JMRL fosters personal growth and life-long learning for all by connection people with ideas, information, and each other."[1]

History of the Charlottesville Public Library

The first known lending library in the Charlottesville area was created in 1823 by a group of citizens that included Thomas Jefferson. The Albemarle Library Society was incorporated by the Virginia General Assembly and "organized with Valentine W. Southall as president and, among other officers, William H. Meriwether as librarian."[2] This was a subscription library, requiring dues paying membership, that was located in Court Square (a site now occupied by 224 Court Square).

The Albemarle Library ceased operation sometime after 1834. It was not until 1919 and the generosity of Paul Goodloe McIntire that a truly public library was formed. McIntire donated not only the land and the construction costs, but the furniture and the first 5,000 books for the new library as well. The cornerstone was laid in November 1919, and the new "Charlottesville Public Library" opened its doors to the public on May 30, 1921.

Central Library renovations

In October 2019, J-MRL received a $36,000 gift from the estate of Lawrence Suffrin for the Central Library renovations. [3]

The Regional Library Evolves

With the development of bookmobile service to Albemarle County in 1947, the name of the library was changed to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Public Library. In 1958, six years after the death of Mr. McIntire, the main library building and the system itself became known as the McIntire Library.

By 1960, the conversation turned to how to prepare for a new library because circulation in Albemarle began to surpass circulation in Charlottesville. In February of that year, an expansion committee decided to wait until a new home for Charlottesville's city hall was selected by the Municipal Facilities Commission. Circulation in Charlottesville had spiked in 1959 due to the closure of two city schools during Massive Resistance.[4]

Additional branches in Scottsville, Crozet, and on Gordon Avenue in Charlottesville took some of the pressure off of the small McIntire Branch in the early 1960s, and, in 1972, with the addition of branches in Louisa and Nelson counties, the library system became the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. Greene County joined the system in 1974.

In October 1977, the Market Street Post Office building was purchased by Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Under Director Christopher Devan, a 17-month renovation project took place. Total cost of the project reached $2.25 million. After moving the McIntire collection of 90,000 volumes into the building on Market Street, the new Central Library opened on February 2, 1981 to patrons eager for a larger facility. Along with administration and technical services, the third floor of the new building offered the community three meeting rooms, one of them dedicated to Mr. McIntire.

In May 1987, the Albemarle County Historical Society's Library and the Central Virginia Genealogical Association consolidated their resources with those of the Central Library and moved the newly formed Charlottesville-Albemarle Historical Collection to the mezzanine of the Central Library where it remained until 1994. That year, after extensive restoration and renovation, the Historical Collection moved out of the Central Library and into the former McIntire Library.

Beyond the Printed Page

In the late 80s, the Library Board and Director Bill Swinson had committed the library system to obtaining the benefits of emerging modern technology. By February 1989, under Director Donna Selle, the card catalogs at all branches were replaced with on-line computer catalogs for the public and J-MRL fully implemented its automated circulation system.

In order to continue to integrate technology into the library system, the Central Library was again renovated in 1995. The opening of a public computer lab for internet access and the development and implementation of a community information network, Monticello Avenue, were initiated. The public lab houses many internet stations and access is also available in the Central Reference Department where extensive electronic resources complement the print and microform collections. In December 2010, the library began offering downloadable books for e-readers and mobile phones.[5]

The current library director is David Plunkett, who took over from John Halliday in January 2018. [6]

Ten Branch Libraries


2010 budget

In January 2010, Albemarle County staff responded to JMRL's 2010 budget proposal with a request to consider five-percent and 10-percent budget reductions, which JMRL board president Anthony Townsend said would result in library closings.[7] The JMRL Board said they would absorb the costs by closing the Scottsville branch rather than apply that 5% cut across the board. By the end of the review process, the Board agreed to level-fund the library, but Supervisor Duane Snow has asked county staff to research what it would cost the county to run its own system independent of JMRL[citation needed].

2011 Budget

Albemarle County put together a budget for FY2011/2012. As part of this review, county staff is reviewing the agreement by which Albemarle is part of the JMRL. A work session was held in February 2011 to discuss their findings.[8][9] Supervisors directed county staff to work with library director John Halliday on a process by which the library agreement will be updated for the 21st century.[9]

2012 out-of-network charges

In 2012, pressure from Albemarle County to raise additional revenue caused the board to consider a $30-a-year charge to people who live outside the JMRL network.[10] The Nelson County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to the new fee.[11]

Central library renovation

In October 2014, trustees were presented with an $8.74 million plan to renovate the central library. This will involve a temporary library needing to be found in the meantime.[12]

Overcrowding at Crozet

In July 2010, the firm Dominion Library Associates was hired to conduct an assessment of the Crozet, Scottsville, Louisa County and Nelson County facilities. The Crozet library was deemed to not be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and "is the most crowded facility attempting to provide library service that this consultant has seen in recent years.[13] The report called for the library to be shut down until a safer one could be opened.

JMRL Board of Trustees

The responsibilities of the Board of Trustees includes setting library goals annually and developing a 5-year comprehensive plan designed to meet statewide requirements.[14]

Current trustees

Previous members

Five-Year Strategic Plan July 2019 to June 2024

DRAFT Jefferson-Madison Regional Library Five-Year Strategic Plan July 2019–June 2024:[15] The Library Board of Trustees is adopting this ambitious strategic plan for 2020-2024 to set objectives for itself, library staff, and government officials. The plan is intended to keep the library focused on its goals and to show everyone where the library is heading. Highlights of the Five-Year Plan include:

  • Expansion of Nelson Memorial Library
  • Updating Central Library in Charlottesville
  • Planning for growth of outreach and extension services
  • Providing additional service hours at Northside Library and Louisa County Library
  • Bringing JMRL closer to meeting the Virginia State Library Board’s standards for “AA” libraries

The Five-Year Plan was developed by a 12-member planning committee representing the Library Board,library staff, and Friends of the Library. The committee met regularly between April of 2018 and March 2019. Supporting documents used to develop the plan included JMRL’s Fall 2018 user feedback survey, Planning for Library Excellence: Standards for Virginia Public Libraries (2009), The State of America’s Libraries 2013: A Report of the American Library Association, Assumptions About the Future of Public Libraries (Public Library Association, 2010), and Strategic Planning for Results (Public Library Association, 2008). The committee also solicited public input throughout the process, and informed the public of progress at


In the early days of the COVID-19 Emergency, the library system moved to tier 5 in its COVID response plan, which was to shut everything down. Gradually they loosened restrictions and went to tier 2 on May 17, 2021. [16]

Photo gallery


  1. Web. About JMRL, retrieved June 22,2021.
  2. Robert M. Hubbard, “Libraries in Charlottesville and Albemarle: A Brief History,” Magazine of Albemarle County History, vol. 37-38 (1979-1980): 7.
  3. Web. [1], Staff Reports, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, October 23, 2019, retrieved October 23, 2019. Print. October 23, 2019 page A3.
  4. Print: Library Expansion is Postponed, Staff Reports, Daily Progress, Lindsay family February 11, 1960, Page 11.
  5. Web. Local libraries offering e-books for free, Brandon Shulleeta, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, December 4, 2010, retrieved December 6, 2010.
  6. Web. New library director focused on access, funding, Tyler Hammel, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, January 12, 2018, retrieved September 14, 2019.
  7. Web. JMRL says budget reductions could close Scottsville, Crozet libraries, Brendan Fitzgerald, C-VILLE Weekly, Portico Publications, January 19, 2010
  8. Web. Library Analysis Scope of Work, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, retrieved October 1, 2010.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Web. Supervisors seek changes to library agreement, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, February 9, 2011, retrieved February 10, 2011.
  10. Web. Regional Library Might Have New Fee In 2012, Newsradio 1070, retrieved November 5, 2012.
  11. Web. Supervisors accept new library agreement, Katrina Koerting, Nelson County Times, retrieved November 7, 2012.
  12. Web. $8.74M Central Library renovation proposed, Nate Delesline III, Daily Progress, October 27, 2014, retrieved October 28, 2014.
  13. Moorman, John A. "Albemarle County Library Facility Study Project July10 Final Report." Scribd. 7 July 2010. Web. 30 Aug. 2010. <>.
  14. Web. J-MRL Board of Trustees’ Goals and Planning, 27 February 2006, retrieved 28 June 2012.
  16. Web. May 14, 2021: No appointments needed to visit JMRL branches starting Monday; Andrews launches bid for Samuel Miller seat in Albemarle, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Community Engagement, Town Crier Productions, May 14, 2021, retrieved May 15, 2021.

External links