Inscribed by hand “Mann S. Valentine / March 10th 1831” and belonging to the personal gentleman’s library of the Valentine Museum founder’s father, this book contains the Acts of the Assembly relating to the city of Richmond from 1742 to 1829. The expense of bound books in the antebellum period led to the founding of circulating private and then public libraries in 18th and 19th century America.
The Library Society of Richmond was chartered in 1806 and is among the earliest of such institutions in the United States. Prior to such public-minded institutions, access to books and
periodicals was limited to the wealthy. Richmonders ordered books and subscribed to periodical publications, often sharing them among friends – hence inscriptions of ownership like Mann Valentine’s.
Despite war, destruction of the city, Reconstruction, and generations of poverty, the Richmond library system survived and continues the aims of the founders. With the changing age what is the future of the books in the 21st century?