Supporting the Library

When Thomas Jefferson sited the library in the Rotunda, he did something revolutionary. He placed a library at the head of his academic institution, rather than the customary chapel. In doing so, and in the centuries since, the U.Va. Library has been central to the educational experience at U.Va. Your contribution will help us support research and scholarship, create and enhance spaces and programs for students and faculty, and preserve the results of intellectual discovery and creative endeavor for generations to come.

Research Support

The Library supports the U.Va. community in its academic research, from providing specialized collections and data services to experimenting with new technologies and partnerships to spur scholarship and share its results. Your gifts will enable not only the acquisition of collections, but also endowments to preserve them and ensure their survival. You will also be encouraging the creation of new knowledge at U.Va., and the transmission of that learning to students and scholars around the world.

Student Experience

From the vibrant, collaborative spaces of Clemons to the elegant reading rooms of Alderman, the Library is central to the academic lives of U.Va. students. They meet with teachers, work on group projects, participate in programs and events, conduct research, and read quietly alone. Your contributions enable us to enhance those spaces and programs, and keep the Library an essential part of the U.Va. experience.

Preservation

The U.Va. Library is the guardian of the University’s cultural and intellectual record, and the gateway to its use by faculty and students. Preservation is key to ensuring these valuable resources—from rare manuscripts to “born digital” works of scholarship—are accessible both now and far into the future. Your gift will help us tackle the challenges of caring for heavily-used books, treasured special collections, and digital materials that are crucial to scholarship but surprisingly fragile.

History

In 1824, Thomas Jefferson sent Frances Walker Gilmer to England to purchase books for the library of the University of Virginia. Since then, the Library has built up, burned down, regrown, and expanded into a system that now includes over a dozen facilities and a catalog of millions of books, articles, digital files, and more. Here are just a few highlights of the Library's nearly 200-year history.

1819 -
The University receives its charter. Unlike almost all other universities of the time, the university was not centered around a church, but around a library. 1825 - 
“No student shall ever be in the library but in the presence of the Librarian or of some professor whom he attends, nor shall be allowed to take any book from the shelves, nor remain in the room to read or consult any book but during such presence.”                                                                        
-Thomas Jefferson, Rector
(Board of Visitors minutes, 3 March 1825)
 
John Vaughan Keane, a student, is appointed by Jefferson as the first librarian.

image: Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Matthew Harris Jouett.
1826 - 
The Rotunda opens, serving as the University Library, with 8,000 books selected by Thomas Jefferson himself.  The books had arrived late in 1825 and had been stored in Pavilion VII on the West Lawn—now the Colonnade Club.

image: detail of the University of Virginia by Benjamin Tanner, 1826.
1826 - 
William Wertenbaker is selected as second librarian. Like Keane, Wertenbaker was also a student when first appointed. He served as librarian from 1826-1831, 1835-1857, and 1865-1881 (and was emiterus with full salary until his death in 1882). Wertenbaker was an acquaintance of Edgar Allan Poe, and wrote of him in January of 1869: As Librarian I had frequent official intercourse with Mr. Poe, but it was at or near the close of the session before I met him in the social circle . . . He certainly was not habitually intemperate, but he may occasionally have entered into a frolic. I often saw him in the lecture room and in the library, but never in the slightest degree under the influence of intoxicating liquors. image: Portrait of William Wertenbaker—Special Collections, U.Va. Library.
1876 - 
Frederick W. Page is appointed as assistant Librarian, marking the first time the Library had more than one employee. 

image: Engraving of the Rotunda interior with Jefferson Statue by Alexander Galt (1827-1863).
1893
 - 
Lack of space in the Rotunda results in four “departmental libraries”: Biology & Agriculture, Chemistry, Law, and Astronomy, which is housed in the Leander McCormick Observatory.

image: Engraving of the Leander McCormick Observatory.
1895 - 
Fire guts the Rotunda and destroys almost 40,000 of the 56,733 volumes in the Library. A considerable portion of the original collection compiled by Jefferson is lost. Books are moved to Brooks Museum for temporary storage.

 image: U.Va. Rotunda on fire, 1895.
1898 - 
Architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White completes the renovation of the Rotunda and the Library reopens. 

image: Rotunda interior, circa 1930s.
1904 - 
Edwin Anderson Alderman becomes the University's first president. Alderman was a pioneer of educational expansion. He increased appropriations for the Library and encouraged the expansion of library services. In his Founder's Day address in April of 1924 he proposed the construction of a new million-dollar library.

image: portrait of Edwin Alderman by Rufus Holsinger, 1912.
1927 - 
Harry Clemons becomes the tenth University librarian, serving until 1950. During his time as librarian, the Library's holdings increased more than tenfold.

image: Portrait of Harry Clemons from the University of Virginia Visual History Collection.
University President John Lloyd Newcomb makes the new library a top priority and secures assistance from the Public Works Administration, allowing construction to begin. Alumnus R.E. Lee Taylor, partner in Taylor & Fisher, was the building architect.

image: Detail of Alderman Library South Elevation (1936). From Alderman Library Original Construction Drawings, Taylor and Fisher Architects, 1935–1939,  Facilities Management Resource Center, U.Va.
1938 -  The new library is completed at a cost of $950,909. Designed to accommodate 100 staff members, 1000 readers, and 600,000 volumes, Alderman Library, named in memory of Edwin Alderman, was formally dedicated during Final Exercises in June 1938.

image: Alderman Library circulation desk in Memorial Hall, 1938.
1938 - 
The gift of the Tracy W. McGregor Library was announced at the Alderman Library dedication ceremonies. This significant collection of 12,500 items in American history, geography, and literature helped to establish the University as an important research center of American history. The McGregor Room was orginally built to house this collection. The McGregor Fund, which Tracy McGregor and his wife Katherine had established to support charitable works, has been a major benefactor to the University of Virginia Library ever since.

image: The McGregor Room, 2012. Photograph by Stacey Evans.
1960 - 
Alumnus Clifton Waller Barrett presents his collection to the University. The Barrett Library comprised 750,000 books, letters, and manuscripts covering nearly every American author writing between 1775 and 1950.

image: Cover of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County . . . by Mark Twain, 1867, from the Clifton Waller Barrett Library.
1967 - New Stacks addition to Alderman Library opens.  By the early 60s, library collections numbered nearly a million volumes and plans for expansion began. The construction of New Stacks was the first of these plans to be implemented. image: Construction of  New Stacks, 1966. Photograph by Ed Roseberry.
1982 - As collections and need for space outgrows Alderman Library, Clemons Library joins the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library (1972),  Science and Technology Library (1975) and the Music Library (1977). Clemons Library is named in honor of former University Librarian Harry Clemons.

image: Clemons Library and Aviator statue (photograph by Melissa Loggans).
2004 - Ann Lee Brown, widow of alumnus Charles L. Brown, endows the Science and Engineering Library, which is renamed the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library.

image: Cardboard mastodon in the reading room of the Brown Science and Engineering Library, 2011 (photograph by Ola Iko). 2004 - The generosity of the Harrison and Small families results in the opening of the Library's newest building: the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. The Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library features exhibition galleries as well as shelving space for 300,000 rare books and 16 million manuscripts. The below-ground library features reading rooms for special collections research with skylights that bring in natural light.

image: The Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library in the spring of 2008 (photograph by Jane Haley).
2013 - Alderman Library celebrates its 75th anniversary, and plans are underway for Alderman Renewal, a project to update and enhance the building to suit the changing needs of faculty and students.

image: Memorial Hall in Alderman Library, 2012 (photograph by Stacey Evans).

1819 - The University receives its charter. Unlike almost all other universities of the time, the university was not centered around a church, but around a library. 1825 - No student shall ever be in the library but in the presence of the Librarian or of some professor whom he attends, nor shall be allowed to take any book from the shelves, nor remain in the room to read or consult any book but during such presence.”                                                                        
-Thomas Jefferson, Rector
(Board of Visitors minutes, 3 March 1825)
 
John Vaughan Keane, a student, is appointed by Jefferson as the first librarian.

image: Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Matthew Harris Jouett. 1826 - The Rotunda opens, serving as the University Library, with 8,000 books selected by Thomas Jefferson himself.  The books had arrived late in 1825 and had been stored in Pavilion VII on the West Lawn—now the Colonnade Club.

image: detail of the University of Virginia by Benjamin Tanner, 1826.
1826 - William Wertenbaker is selected as second librarian. Like Keane, Wertenbaker was also a student when first appointed. He served as librarian from 1826-1831, 1835-1857, and 1865-1881 (and was emiterus with full salary until his death in 1882). Wertenbaker was an acquaintance of Edgar Allan Poe, and wrote of him in January of 1869:  As Librarian I had frequent official intercourse with Mr. Poe, but it was at or near the close of the session before I met him in the social circle . . . He certainly was not habitually intemperate, but he may occasionally have entered into a frolic. I often saw him in the lecture room and in the library, but never in the slightest degree under the influence of intoxicating liquors.

image: Portrait of William Wertenbaker—Special Collections, U.Va. Library.
1876 - Frederick W. Page is appointed as assistant Librarian, marking the first time the Library had more than one employee. 

image: Engraving of the Rotunda interior with Jefferson Statue by Alexander Galt (1827-1863). 1893
 - Lack of space in the Rotunda results in four departmental libraries: Biology & Agriculture, Chemistry, Law, and Astronomy, which is housed in the Leander McCormick Observatory.

image: Engraving of the Leander McCormick Observatory. 1895
Fire guts the Rotunda and destroys almost 40,000 of the 56,733 volumes in the Library. A considerable portion of the original collection compiled by Jefferson is lost. Books are moved to Brooks Museum for temporary storage.

 image: U.Va. Rotunda on fire, 1895.
1898
Architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White completes the renovation of the Rotunda and the Library reopens. 

image: Rotunda interior, circa 1930s.
1904 
Edwin Anderson Alderman becomes the University's first president. Alderman was a pioneer of educational expansion. He increased appropriations for the Library and encouraged the expansion of library services. In his Founder's Day address in April of 1924 he proposed the construction of a new million-dollar library.

image: portrait of Edwin Alderman by Rufus Holsinger, 1912.
192 - 
Harry Clemons becomes the tenth University librarian, serving until 1950. During his time as librarian, the Library's holdings increased more than tenfold.

image: Portrait of Harry Clemons from the University of Virginia Visual History Collection.
University President John Lloyd Newcomb makes the new library a top priority and secures assistance from the Public Works Administration, allowing construction to begin. Alumnus R.E. Lee Taylor, partner in Taylor & Fisher, was the building architect.

image: Detail of Alderman Library South Elevation (1936). From Alderman Library Original Construction Drawings, Taylor and Fisher Architects, 1935–1939,  Facilities Management Resource Center, U.Va.
1938
The new library is completed at a cost of $950,909. Designed to accommodate 100 staff members, 1000 readers, and 600,000 volumes, Alderman Library, named in memory of Edwin Alderman, was formally dedicated during Final Exercises in June 1938.

image: Alderman Library circulation desk in Memorial Hall, 1938.
1938
The gift of the Tracy W. McGregor Library was announced at the Alderman Library dedication ceremonies. This significant collection of 12,500 items in American history, geography, and literature helped to establish the University as an important research center of American history. The McGregor Room was orginally built to house this collection. The McGregor Fund, which Tracy McGregor and his wife Katherine had established to support charitable works, has been a major benefactor to the University of Virginia Library ever since.

image: The McGregor Room, 2012. Photograph by Stacey Evans.
1960
Alumnus Clifton Waller Barrett presents his collection to the University. The Barrett Library comprised 750,000 books, letters, and manuscripts covering nearly every American author writing between 1775 and 1950.

image: Cover of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County . . . by Mark Twain, 1867, from the Clifton Waller Barrett Library.
1967
New Stacks addition to Alderman Library opens.  By the early 60s, library collections numbered nearly a million volumes and plans for expansion began. The construction of New Stacks was the first of these plans to be implemented.

image: Construction of  New Stacks, 1966. Photograph by Ed Roseberry.
1982
As collections and need for space outgrows Alderman Library, Clemons Library joins the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library (1972),  Science and Technology Library (1975) and the Music Library (1977). Clemons Library is named in honor of former University Librarian Harry Clemons.

image: Clemons Library and Aviator statue (photograph by Melissa Loggans).
2004
Ann Lee Brown, widow of alumnus Charles L. Brown, endows the Science and Engineering Library, which is renamed the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library.

image: Cardboard mastodon in the reading room of the Brown Science and Engineering Library, 2011 (photograph by Ola Iko). 2004
The generosity of the Harrison and Small families results in the opening of the Library's newest building: the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. The Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library features exhibition galleries as well as shelving space for 300,000 rare books and 16 million manuscripts. The below-ground library features reading rooms for special collections research with skylights that bring in natural light.

image: The Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library in the spring of 2008 (photograph by Jane Haley).
2013 - Alderman Library celebrates its 75th anniversary, and plans are underway for Alderman Renewal, a project to update and enhance the building to suit the changing needs of faculty and students.

image: Memorial Hall in Alderman Library, 2012 (photograph by Stacey Evans).

How to Give

In every era since Thomas Jefferson created it in the Rotunda, the University of Virginia Library has been at the heart of the educational experience at U.Va. Your contribution will help us create new study spaces, implement emerging technologies, acquire and conserve a wide range of materials, and make the full range of scholarship and research tools available to our students and faculty.

Please consider a gift to the Library. No gift is too small. Or too large.

There are a number of ways to make a donation:

  • Online

    Our secure online form allows you to make a credit card donation directly to the University Library. You'll receive an e-mail confirmation of your gift, and a receipt by mail for tax purposes.

  • By mail

    Simply send a check payable to U.Va. Library to:

    University of Virginia Library
    U.Va. Fund
    P.O. Box 400314
    Charlottesville, VA 22904-4314

  • By stock or bond transfers

    If you would like to make a gift of stock or bonds, visit the U.Va. stock transfer page for instructions, or call the U.Va. Gift Accounting Office at 800-688-9882.

  • Matching gift?

    It's possible your employer will match your gift. Type your company's name into our matching gift search, or check with your company's financial department to see if you can double your charitable contribution to the Library.

  • Questions?

    If you have questions about making a gift to the University Library, contact Patrick Garcia at 434-924-9640 or pgarcia@virginia.edu.

Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 03