When Jefferson founded UVA in 1819, he placed a library, not a chapel, at the center of the institution. It was a radical move, heralding an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of knowledge. In 1815, the newly-formed Library of Congress created the foundation for a great national library by acquiring Jefferson’s personal collection of 6,487 personally-curated volumes. These included books on philosophy, science, literature and other topics not normally viewed as part of a legislative library but which expressed Jefferson’s belief that all subjects are important to leadership of the country. This philosophy remains the rationale behind the collecting policies of today’s Library of Congress and is perfectly reflected in the central role the UVA Library plays in the life of the University.
Today, the Library serves not only as its ideological heart but also as an anchor in each of its academic pursuits—from education and study to original research to preservation.
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. 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, science and engineering, chemistry, astronomy, fine art, American history, mathematics and physics. The University also hosts the renowned Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, a signature collection of 16 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.