For Immediate Release
October 8, 2008
Contact: Norman Maas
664-7328 ext 308
City of Norfolk
Receives Largest Donation in Charitable History
for New Downtown Library
VA (October 8, 2008). Frank Batten Sr., long-time chairman of
Landmark Communications, has committed a $20 million contribution to the
construction of a new central library in downtown Norfolk. The announcement was made during a
press conference on Tuesday, October 7, 2008 by Mayor Paul Fraim, who described
the gift as “the largest in the city’s history.” Fraim expressed gratitude on
behalf of Norfolk
citizens for the Batten family’s generosity.
According to Fraim, construction of
the new central library could begin as early as fall 2010, and will be composed
of the historic Seaboard Building at 235
Plume Street and a newly built structure between
the Seaboard Building and Selden Arcade. It is
anticipated that the two structures will be connected by a glass-enclosed
courtyard and atrium.
The city acquired the Seaboard Building in 2007 for $7.2 million and is
spending an additional $2.8 million on restoration. The original plan called
for the Seaboard Building to serve as a temporary location for the city’s aging
Kirn Memorial Main Library, which is scheduled to be demolished in early 2009
to make way the for the city’s new Light Rail Transit.
Mayor Fraim announced that the new central
library will be named in honor of Batten’s uncle, Samuel L. Slover. Slover founded
Landmark Communications when he acquired the Ledger-Star and then merged that
newspaper with the Virginian-Pilot, which he purchased in the early 1930s. For
more than 50 years, Slover was a dominant figure in Virginia newspaper publishing circles. He
was also a former Mayor of Norfolk who loved the city, believing that an
informed citizenry is one of the most important keys to its success.
In 1954 at the age of 27, Frank Batten,
Sr. assumed the leadership of the Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Star, and
developed Landmark Communications into one of the nation’s largest and most
influential media companies.
Batten, who expressed his pleasure and
satisfaction in being able to provide this gift to the City of Norfolk stated, “Throughout my life and
career, I have tried to honor my uncle and his devotion to the betterment of
the communities that we serve, and his commitment to integrity, honesty and a
sense of fair play. He would be glad to know that this state-of-the art
library will be named in his honor.”
To honor Batten’s wishes, Fraim vowed
that the new Slover Library will be the most technologically advanced in the United States.
“Mr. Batten believes that technology has the potential to change lives,” Fraim
said. “We are determined that the new library will permit our citizens to
access the latest 21st century technology with the goal of providing a more
The cost of
the new construction will total nearly $40 million. Combined with the cost of
the purchase and renovation of the Seaboard
Building the price of the
Slover Library will total nearly $50 million. Fraim will lead an effort to
raise additional funds for the construction cost of the new facility.
that a gift from a man of Mr. Batten’s stature and reputation will influence
other people to support this project.”
programmable space for the new main library will increase to approximately
92,000 square feet, 34,000 square feet more than currently available in Kirn
If you have any questions please call
Library Director Norman Maas at (757) 664-7328.
Public Library: The Norfolk Public
Library offers equal opportunity access to information, books, programs, and
online resources to meet the needs of our diverse community for life-long
learning. The library system consists of one main library, 10 branch libraries,
one anchor branch library, and a Bookmobile and Treasure Truck. Visit www.npl.lib.va.us or call us at (757)
664-READ for more information. NPL-
Creating a City of Readers.