Campus News

Construction to begin on Special Collections Library building

Construction to begin on Special Collections Library building

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia will hold a ground breaking ceremony for the Richard B. Russell Building, which will be the new home of the Special Collections Library, on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 3 p.m.The ceremony will take place at the building site, on the corner of Hull Street and Florida Avenue, where it will anchor the planned Northwest Campus development. UGA President Michael F. Adams and University Librarian and Associate Provost William Gray Potter will speak. Construction is expected to take two years.

The 115,000-square-foot building is projected to cost close to $46 million, with approximately one-third of that amount coming from private sources. The building will be called the Richard B. Russell Building in recognition of an early pledge from the Richard B. Russell Foundation, which founded and continues to support one of the special collections libraries to be housed in the new facility.

“This building will allow the University Libraries to provide state-of-the-art storage and security for its most valuable collections,” Potter said. “It will provide galleries where students and citizens can view these treasures. An auditorium, classrooms and seminar rooms will allow students to directly use these materials in instructional settings, truly making history come alive.”

Occupying the building will be:

-The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library – a repository on Georgia history and culture. Highlights include papers of the first colonists, the charter of the university, the original Confederate Constitution, an extensive collection of maps and the papers of many prominent authors, including Margaret Mitchell. See for more information.

-The Walter J. Brown Media Archive and Peabody Awards Collection – the third largest archive of broadcasting in the country with more than 100,000 audio and video recordings. It is built around 80,000 radio and television programs submitted to the Peabody Awards since 1940. The collection also includes more than 5 million feet of news film from WSB-TV in Atlanta, entries to the Southeastern Emmy Awards, personal collections of broadcast pioneers and unique recordings of Georgia folk music and storytellers. See for more information.

-The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, developed around the papers of U.S. Senator Russell. Given Russell’s lengthy service and the inclusion of nearly 300 individuals involved in post-20th century state and national politics, the Russell Library is often compared in importance to a presidential library. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have chosen the Russell Library to house their archives, as well as editorial cartoonists Clifford Baldowski and Gene Bassett. See for more information.

The building will be constructed around a 30,000 square foot storage area with shelves that will be 30 feet high.State-of-the-art climate control will be used to provide an environment that will protect and preserve the materials for future generations.

The building’s location will increase accessibility to unique, original and irreplaceable primary sources for all citizens of Georgia. The collections are routinely used for research by faculty and students from other higher education institutions around the state.

“The space in the Main Library now housing our special collections was not designed for that purpose and, thanks to the staff of these libraries, the volume of our holdings has increased dramatically. Once the new building is occupied, 50,000 square feet will be converted-at minimal cost-to student study space and shelving,” said Potter.