Pursuit of Knowledge
A Library-Centered University
When the University of Virginia was founded in 1819, a library—instead of a chapel—was placed at its center. By today’s standards, this seems common practice. But at a time when universities were structured around the church, this was radical.
Today, the University of Virginia’s many libraries remain central in its mission to advance human knowledge, educate leaders and cultivate an informed citizenry. Inspired by the collecting policies of the Library of Congress – which emphasizes all subjects are important to leadership of the country – the UVA Library collects, preserves, organizes, and shares materials of all varieties, providing unfettered access to an accumulation of knowledge, two centuries in the making.
Today, the University of Virginia Library is a vital resource for students, faculty and scholars worldwide. With several major facilities, labs and programs the Library offers critical support to academic endeavors at UVA and beyond. At its heart lies Alderman, a sprawling complex housing works in the humanities and social sciences (currently being renovated). Beyond that, Clemons—a destination offering 24/5 study access—offers resources in film, television, drama and dance as well as tutoring and advising services. And interspersed throughout Grounds lie other facilities specializing in music, fine arts, and science and engineering. The University is also the home of the renowned Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, which holds a signature collection of more than 20 million objects including manuscripts, archival records, rare books, maps, broadsides, photographs, audio and video recordings. In addition, there are libraries serving the Darden School of Business, the University Health System, and the UVA School of Law.
By the Numbers
manuscripts and archives
Preserving the Past
UVA is known not only for its extensive library system but also for the work it does in preserving works of scholarship both physical and digital. This has resulted in the preservation of such works as the Jefferson Papers—which provide a crucial link to our history as a nation—and the digitization of rare video from the Civil Rights Era. The UVA Library is also a leader in the creation of digital archives that ensure the safety of scholarship for generations to come. And since 1992, the University has hosted the Rare Book School, an institution dedicated to educating people in the art of caring for and preserving the historical archive.