Special Collections

Our Special Collections Room is located in the lower level of our Main Library.  It includes Virginia a wealth of  research materials for local history and genealogy. Special Collections is open during regular library hours.

Did you know that we have a number of other very special collections?  More than books, your Richmond Public Library includes visual arts, musical instruments and scores, music on vinyl, ‘zines, rare books, access to City and legal records, and more!

Art Exhibits

Richmond Public Library is looking for artists and photographers to exhibit at the Main Library. The Library, with four galleries, is a participating partner in the First Friday Art Walk along the Historic Broad Street District. The Library provides publicity and opening night refreshments. Gallery space is offered free of charge to the artist with a suggested donation of 10% of any sales during the show.

Richmond Public Library’s Main Library is a multidisciplinary venue, showcasing performances and four gallery spaces featuring the work of local and regional artists, including photography, prints, painting, and multimedia works. The Main Library also houses the David Freed Gallery, which features the Library’s permanent collection of prints of renowned authors created by legendary Richmond artist David Freed.

To learn more and/or apply, please click on the link below. After completing the application, return it to Lynn Vandenesse at the Main Library.

Art Exhibit Guidelines

Art Exhibit Application

City Records Center

Richmond Public Library is designated by the City of Richmond to be responsible for the care and keeping of written public records of the City of Richmond, Virginia.  The City Records Center is the depository for non-current, but permanently valuable records of city government such as annual reports of the City of Richmond, ordinances and resolutions of the City Council, and departmental records. The City Records Center also manages the retention and destruction of regular departmental records under the guidelines of the Virginia Records Act.  Other valuable resources include microfilms of City Assessors Data cards, which list valuation and other data on property within Richmond City. Inclusive dates of the property assessment holdings: 1933 – 1960.  Contact:  804-646-4151 or e-mail: cityrecords@richmondgov.com

Free Richmond Instrument Lending Library (FRILL)

Since 2014, all young people in Richmond can check out instruments from the Girls Rock! RVA collection for free with their Richmond Public Library card.  This project is a continuation of the radical partnership between Girls Rock! RVA and Richmond Public Library.  In 2016, we will be expanding FRILL to serve more neighborhoods and offer a wider range of instruments.

Have more questions about FRILL?  Need help getting started with your instrument?  Check out the online resources below, and please write us at frill@girlsrockrva.org.

Grants and Funding – Funding Information Network

The Foundation Center is an organization dedicated to strengthening the nonprofit sector by advancing knowledge about U.S. philanthropy. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. grantmakers and their grants.  Richmond Public Library is a Funding Information Network Partner of the Foundation Center, which means we can provide free funding information. We have a core collection of Foundation Center publications and a variety of supplementary materials and services in areas useful to grant seekers.

The Funding Information Network of the Richmond Public Library houses both print and electronic resources that are available for public use in the Library during the Main Library’s regular hours. The resources are available on a walk-in basis, or you may call ahead to schedule an information session with a librarian.  For more information, contact our Reference desk at 646-7223.

Newspaper Clippings

Behind the Reference Desk at the Main Library are about 30 filing cabinets filled with newspaper clippings of Richmond history and obituaries/biographies from the early 1900s into the early 2000s.  This treasure trove is accessible when the Library is open for the casual and professional researcher.  These materials don’t circulate, but can be copied.

Rare Children’s Book Collection

The Rare Children’s Book Collection is housed in the Davenport Special Collections Room of the Main Library, 101 E. Franklin Street. This collection includes international and American children’s books of historical interest from the 18th century to the 21st century. Specific collections include Rare Children’s Books (RCB), Rare Children’s Series (RCS), Rare Tucker Collection (RTC) and international children’s books.

Significant gifts from Martha Orr Davenport and Judith Josephine Tucker have provided the core of this collection. The collections were also drawn from the Library’s earlier holdings or from gifts.  Materials owned in the Rare Children’s Book Collection are not available for circulation and must be signed for and used under supervision in the Main Library only.

Currently, the Rare Children’s Book Room is only open by appointment.  For questions about holdings, please call our Reference desk at 646-7223.

Richmond Authors Collection

The Richmond Authors Collection is housed in the Davenport Special Collections Room of the Main Library, 101 E. Franklin Street. The Richmond Authors Collection represents the breadth and range of Richmond writers and includes the works of authors who have lived in Richmond (or the adjacent counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Goochland and Hanover) for at least one year of their lives. The Collection provides an important link to Richmond’s development, growth, heritage and culture as a community and a people.

Books in the Richmond Authors Collection are not available for circulation, and must be signed for and used under supervision in the Main Library only.  Currently, the Davenport Special Collections Room is only available by appointment.  Please call our Reference desk at 646-7223 to learn more about the Richmond Authors Collection.

Musical Scores

The Main Library has 12 file cabinets with thousands of pieces of sheet music!  That’s right – sheet music.  Pieces are indexed in a vintage card catalog.  The sacred music pieces circulate; others can be copied.  Additionally, the Library houses near the Reference Desk hundreds of musical scores.  The easiest way to search for titles is via our online catalog.  Choose the Power Search option and click on Location: Scores and Songbooks.

Zine Collection

“Zines can contain anything from art to poems to collective histories to recipes and other do-it-yourself tips to … REALLY ANYTHING. A zine can be about as much as everything or nothing that the zine-maker desires. A zine can be any size or any length or make use of different materials, although your basic 8.5×11 sheet of paper folded in half is the most common.

Making a zine can be a radical act even if the zine is about Taco Bell or haikus about your cat because in a world where everything is literally within the click of button and a few keystrokes, putting something in print still matters. That’s why zines attract a diverse group of makers and readers of all ages, backgrounds, and interests. And now you can access a small collection of zines at Richmond Public Library!

The RPL Zine Collection is currently housed in Ready Reference at the Main Branch, but they can be checked out and returned to any RPL branch.  All 78 issues are fully searchable via the library catalog.”  Use the keyword search for “zine.”

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