Our collections

The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library administers more than 13 million manuscripts, 3.6 million items in the University archives, and 325,000 rare books, as well as approximately 5,000 maps, over 4,000 broadsides; more than 250,000 photographs and small prints; over 8,000 reels of microfilm; and substantial holdings of audio recordings, motion picture films, and ephemera.

The major emphases of the department’s collections are American history and literature, with additional substantive collections in Virginiana, British literature, African-American history, book arts, the history of sporting, and World War I, among others. In addition, the library serves as the University Archives, holding records of historic significance to UVA. Some of our most prominent collections are featured on other pages and we invite you to use the library’s catalog, Virgo, as well as collection guides found in the Virginia Heritage database, to explore our holdings.


The library’s exhibition programs strive to share a wide range of collection materials with the University community and general public. Temporary and permanent exhibitions fill various spaces in the Harrison/Small building and online exhibitions are available to a worldwide audience.

Collection development policy

The Small Special Collections Library acquires printed books, manuscripts, maps, broadsides, photographs, prints and drawings, sheet music, sound recordings, digital images, artifacts, and other formats in support of the Library’s mission to serve the undergraduate and graduate teaching and research programs of the University. Please read our collection development strategy for more details.

The collection is broken into three separate groups: Manuscript Collections, Rare Books, and University Archives.