Update on JMRL naming policy

Earlier this summer, several community members asked the Board of Trustees of the regional library system to consider a new name, while others have remained adamant that it continue to be named after Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

At the beginning of the JMRL Board’s meeting on August 22, Board Chair Tony Townsend reminded the public that such a decision is not up to them. 

“It is not the Board’s authority to change the library’s name,” Townsend said. “It is the responsibility of the jurisdictions. And also, the library has formed a task force to look into the naming of the library. “ 

The public discussion began in late May when Myra Andersen, president of the Reclaimed Roots Descendants Alliance and a descendant of enslaved laborers, asked for the name to be changed. Before the next meeting in June, the Boards of Supervisors in Louisa County and Greene County passed resolutions saying they would not support a name change. Multiple perspectives were offered at the June meeting

A slide from a previous presentation on the potential for a name change (view the page)

The task force includes Trustees Lisa Woolfork of Charlottesville and Michael Powers of Albemarle County as well as Library Director David Plunkett. He told the full Board that the group has come up with a goal. 

“And that goal is to synthesize public input on the name of JMRL, and to make a recommendation to the Board on any particular action JMRL should take,” Plunkett said. “Any solicitation of expertise or input needs to come with an upfront understanding that the authority to change the name of JMRL lies with Charlottesville, Albemarle, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson.”

Plunkett said the working group will organize information meetings to discuss background, and these will be available for the public to watch online. A survey of library staff will also be conducted. 

You can add your thoughts through an online comment form on the JMRL’s page on the name. So far there are 179 pages in a Google document of the results

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the August 29, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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