The U.Va. Library holds books, e-books, journal and newspaper subscriptions, online databases, digital image collections, videos, CDs, manuscripts, archives and more. Our subject librarians welcome purchase requests from the U.Va. community, too.
Ways to Explore
Information about our Special Collections with ways to help you discover archival and manuscript materials
The Library's catalog and the best place to search for books, journals, digitized collections, and articles
Specialized guides that go beyond books and articles to maps, datasets, newspapers, and more
Commonwealth of Virginia
The Library is a depository for Commonwealth of Virginia documents. The collection houses Virginia law, other General Assembly material, and departmental publications published from 1865 to the present. Virginia documents published since 1989 can be located using Virgo. Consult Alderman 3rd floor staff for documents published prior to 1989. A comprehensive collection of early Virginia documents is also located in the Special Collections Department.
East Asian Collection
The rapidly expanding East Asian Collection includes books and electronic resources in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages. It covers all major disciplines, with particular strength in Buddhism, history, and literature.
The Library is a depository for the publications of the United Nations and the European Union. The Library also collects extensively from OECD, World Bank, UNESCO, IMF, ILO, and other International Governmental Organizations. International documents published since 1989 can be located using Virgo. Consult Alderman 3rd floor staff for documents published prior to 1989.
The Kore Collection includes images from the Library’s collection as well as Library-sponsored material from vendors. The collection’s primary focus is on teaching materials for architectural design, architectural history, landscape architecture, construction, and urban and environmental planning. It also includes other subjects such as decorative arts, material culture, architectural theory, photography, and drama.
Libra is the University of Virginia’s institutional repository, the online archive of scholarship created by the University community. Members of the U.Va. community can self-deposit their scholarly papers and datasets into Libra and provide worldwide open access and preservation for these items, or restrict access for periods of time. In addition, some U.Va. schools are now using Libra for online deposit of theses and dissertations, replacing the need for expensive paper copies to be bound and placed on the library shelves. With Libra, U.Va. joins the growing number of universities and libraries providing open access repositories in order to preserve the scholarly record.
The major emphases of Special Collections’ manuscripts collections are American history and literature. The manuscripts collections total approximately 13 million items in over 14,000 discrete collection units and over 250,000 photographs and small prints, over 8,000 reels of microfilm, nearly 8,000 microfiche, and substantial holdings of audio recordings and motion picture films. The Library focuses collecting attention in several subject areas including Virginiana, African-American studies, Civil War and Reconstruction history and many other social and political history topics. Papers and manuscripts relating to American and British literature form a substantial collection along with the Rare Book Holdings in these areas. Additionally there are other smaller subject collections such as medieval manuscripts, and World War I.
The Library’s map collection comprises about 150,000 maps, primarily from the U.S. government. The collection includes historical and current maps, large and small scale, of both U.S. and foreign countries. Most maps are cataloged in Virgo and can be checked out.
The Library’s extensive microforms collections include many primary sources—diaries, plantation records, archival papers, newspapers, government publications, legal publications—as well as historical books and journals that we don’t own in print. Alderman’s 3rd floor Reading Room contains microfilm readers and scanners.
The Library’s newspaper collections comprise both large microfilm sets as well as many online newspapers. The microfilm collections include many Virginia, national, historic, and foreign newspapers. Several online collections include older newspapers dating back to the 1700s.
Rare Book Collections
The major emphases of Special Collections’ rare book holdings are American history and literature. The collections number approximately 325,000 volumes. Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia, was also the creator of its library, selecting all of the nearly 7,000 books for it. Some of these books survived the disastrous 1895 fire in the Rotunda, and are in Special Collections today where they form a collection of particular interest because of their reflection of Jefferson’s reading habits and his thoughts concerning education. After the Library moved from its original home in the Jefferson-designed Rotunda to Alderman Library in 1938, extensive collecting of rare books and manuscripts began, and the papers and books of many Virginia authors were acquired. The gifts of the Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History and the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature brought the University of Virginia to the forefront of institutions holding American literature collections.
The Tibetan Collection at the University of Virginia is one of the most complete collections in the world, consisting of about 3,300 pecha volumes and 4,600 books containing about 25,000 titles. Most of the materials in the collection are in the Tibetan language and script, and were published in India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet, making them extremely rare. The Tibetan materials cover a full range of subjects, including religion, history, medicine, art, and Tibetan and Sanskrit language.
United States Government
The University Library is a U.S. federal regional depository containing almost 1.3 million paper documents, 1.5 million microforms, and over 140,000 maps. The collection dates back to the founding of the country and includes both print and online government information. Virgo includes only about half of the collection, so consult Alderman 3rd floor staff for assistance.
University of Virginia Archives
The University of Virginia Archives administers the non-current records of lasting value that are generated by or that document the activities of the students, faculty, and administrators of the University. These records comprise a diverse grouping of records and University publications including: personal papers of faculty members (over 130 separate collections); official student records such as transcripts and matriculation rolls; minutes of the Board of Visitors (trustees), of the various faculties, and of student bodies; office files of administrators such as the president, the vice presidents, and deans; working files of University committees; and a host of student and official University publications such as catalogs, yearbooks, annual reports, brochures, and those issued by the University Press of Virginia, the Alumni Association, the Office of Student Affairs, and various student groups.
The Library has around 50,000 videos on DVD, VHS, Laser Disc, and streaming. We collect videos that are in direct support of curricular needs across all disciplines and that align with the teaching, learning, and research needs of our patrons. We also collect materials that contribute to the broader study of media, including critically acclaimed titles, award winners, and films from specific studios and/or distributors. The collection is about 65% feature films and 35% documentaries and is especially strong in international titles, particularly Chinese, German, Indian, Russian, and Spanish films.