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HCPL Tour Series #6: Varina


As Varina Area Library celebrates its eighth anniversary, we’d like to highlight the only HCPL library situated on the Capital Trail! Opened in June of 2016, Varina’s current LEED-certified location on New Market Road replaced the smaller Varina branch which served the community since 1970. Varina Library is a 43,885-square-foot two-story building equipped with designated adult, teen, and children’s areas; study and meeting spaces; a Digital Media Lab; a demonstration kitchen; a grand stairwell for events; and a nature trail. In 2017, Varina won the prestigious Library Building Award presented by the American Institute of Architects in conjunction with the American Library Association. Read on to learn more about this serene and nature-inspired library nestled in the East End!

Inspired by Nature

Drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscape, Varina was designed to reflect the agricultural structures and nature in the area. The building itself mimics the form of tobacco barns. Even the Children’s Storytime room was made to feel like a tree house!

Patrons can enjoy the scenery while reading next to Varina’s large, nature-facing windows, relaxing on a bench underneath the large oak tree out front, or exploring Varina’s nature trail, which curves down into the wetland preserve behind the library. Deer and bunnies are frequent visitors as well as various birds, snakes, and lizards. Patrons can also spot avian visitors from Varina’s birdwatching station. Located next to the windows in the Children’s area, the birdwatching station comes equipped with an identification chart. Just visit the Children’s reference desk to borrow binoculars!

Plus, because of its location on the Capital Trail, Varina is a great place to take a break and recharge on your next cycling adventure.

Demonstration Kitchen

Another one of Varina’s unique features is its demonstration kitchen. Located in the meeting room, the demonstration kitchen has been used for events including local chef demonstrations, tastings, teen cooking competitions, and regular programs like Cook & Book

Grand Stairwell

The grand stairwell is the only meeting space of its kind across all of Henrico’s libraries. The large, open, and centrally-located space invites patrons to gather. It has seen many lectures, films, and performances over the past eight years!

Digital Media Lab

Like other area libraries, Varina also has a Digital Media Lab where patrons can take classes on 3D printing and design, photo and video editing basics, graphic design, podcasting, and more. Visit our Digital Media Lab page to learn more about upcoming classes and lab resources.

Of course, our staff and patrons play a large part in making each of our libraries unique. Here are some comments from staff and the community about Varina Library. 


  • How long have you worked at Varina?
    • I have worked at Varina for 7 years. I have lived in the Varina area for 30 years, and my kids attended elementary school right down New Market Road. We used to go to "Little Varina," as they called it, and my kids loved going to the library. They still like it today and visit to study for college. – Candace T.
  • What do you love most about working at Varina?
    • I love my coworkers, the cultural environment, feeling accepted and welcomed, and feeling like what I do makes the world a better place … Everybody really has each other's back and works smoothly as a team. – Rey M.
    • I love the patrons… We have a lot of people who come to Varina and make lasting friendships. We offer something fun for everyone, and our families enjoy that about Varina. From our engaging Storytimes and programs to our Adventure Nature Trail behind the library. – Candace T.
    • Our building sits in the middle of nature.  It's a gorgeous place to read, study, or play. I also love working in the children's department, which I affectionately call the fun department. My coworkers are so kind and talented. I enjoy working with a great team while cheering on pre-readers and readers. – Leslie O.
  • What makes Varina unique?
    • We are very nature-oriented. Our patrons experience the beautiful outdoor setting of the library even when they are indoors. We have so much outside light and giant windows to let nature inside. We have lovely patrons who really like reading and participating in fun and educational activities. We incorporate our Adventure Trail into many of our programs. – Candace T.
  • Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Varina?
    • It's hard to pick out a specific favorite memory, but I've enjoyed all the programs like music on the occasional weekend, plant exchanges, and other fun and unexpected stuff! – Rey M.
    • I had a great time at the LibraryCon that was held at Varina. Everyone dressed up as their favorite character and it was a blast. Most recently the Taiko Drumming program was an amazing success. All the patrons who attended seemed to really enjoy themselves, and they all got a chance to play the drums. Interactive programs are a great way to raise the level of involvement for patrons at an event. – Candace T.
    • I love seeing families meet other families at storytime. We've had many families become close friends just by coming to the library. One time we did a butterfly release after storytime and all the families loved it. Brand new friendships started from that shared experience! – Leslie O.


  • Why do you visit Varina Library?
    • Patrons have mentioned how beautiful the library is and how they feel like the library is a part of their community. They feel at home here.
  • What’s your favorite thing about the library?
    • Patrons have mentioned that they enjoy the laid-back and peaceful space that the library provides, and that you can always find a quiet place to study or work on projects.

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