History of Dumbarton Library, Part 6: A Miscellany

This month, we pause in the narrative of Dumbarton Library’s history for a few trivia tidbits. For instance, how many of these items do you remember checking out?

Items Henrico County Public Library has loaned:

  • Framed art prints
  • LPs (records)
  • Polaroid cameras
  • VHS and Beta tapes
  • Book and cassette tape kits
  • Filmstrips
  • Compact discs (CDs), beginning in about 1988
Notice LP records at right in this 1977 photo of the children's room
Notice LP records at right in this 1979 photo of the children’s room

Henrico Libraries keep up with technologies of the times; some notable examples follow:

Videos, 1981
Videos, 1981

HCPL Technologies Timeline

  • 1976 Barcode-based electronic circulation system from National Cash Register acquired; “first of its kind for a public library in the eastern United States, a library spokesman said yesterday.”* This system was used at Tuckahoe Area Library, only.
  • 1978 Video tapes for checking out added
  • 1983 Microfilm catalog introduced
  • 1983 Apple II computers installed for public use; patrons paid $1.00 for every 12 minutes of computer time
  • c. 1985 Computer-automated library system called LIONS for checking out books
  • c. 1996 Library website launched
  • 1998 Free internet and office software
  • 1999 Current online catalog and integrated library system purchased
  • c. 2000 First ebooks available (mostly nonfiction titles)
  • 2011 Began purchasing popular title ebooks downloadable through OverDrive
Early library card
Early library card
Computer users, 1990s
Librarian helps computer users, 1990s

First Four Henrico Libraries

  • Fairfield (1968)
  • Lakeside (1968)
  • Tuckahoe (1968)
  • Sandston (established as library for Sandston Women’s Club, 1923; donated to Henrico County, 1967)
First Sandston Library, 1980
First Sandston Library, 1980

“Artifacts” from Opening Dumbarton Area Library

floor plan

ribbon (from January 1977 Dedication?)

Two 1980s Tidbits

A newspaper story from July 1981 reports on a power outage after a thunderstorm — not an uncommon problem. This time, though, power was out for two and a half days, due to some confusion as to whether the power company — VEPCO, as it was at the time — or the County needed to fix the problem. During the outage, then as today, library books returned to Dumbarton couldn’t be checked in with the electronic system and so over 3,000 books piled up. Jokes about the library not paying its electric bill were taken in stride.

Another event that closed Dumbarton for a couple of days was re-carpeting in 1987. Rather than work around the shelves, volunteers — including “six to eight minimum-security work-release inmates”** moved about 80,000 books.

For the move to Libbie Mill Library, professionals will be employed.

This series anticipates the opening of north Henrico’s new Libbie Mill Area Library on October 30, 2015.

Full bibliography for this series, here

*Richmond Times-Dispatch, [untitled], May 29, 1976.

** Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Book-Moving Project Set at Henrico Library,” March 20, 1987.