Richard B. Russell Building

Special Collections Libraries

Photo of building

The first special collections department at the University of Georgia was established in 1953 with John Wyatt Bonner as its director. In the years since, the original collection - now the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library - has grown and the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies and the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection were established in 1974 and 1995, respectively. Today all three departments work together to document the history and culture of Georgia as a state and as it relates to our nation and the world. In January 2010, UGA President Michael Adams, members of the Russell Foundation, the family of the late Senator Richard B. Russell, UGA Library staff, and special donors and friends broke ground for a new 115,000 square foot structure located on the northwest side of the University of Georgia campus.

The new Special Collections Libraries Building contains:

  • Integrated security
  • Customized climate control
  • Galleries for exhibits
  • Classrooms to integrate archival materials into instruction
  • Space for colloquia and other events
  • Growth for 40 years

The cost was 46 million dollars, two-thirds of which came from the state, and one-third from private sources. Seven million dollars were raised for program endowments.

Collins Cooper Carusi, Atlanta

General Contractor:
Brasfield & Gorrie

The Richard B. Russell Building's Green Design

Event Space:
The exhibit level of the Special Collections Libraries contains space for special events and other gatherings. The large banquet room is 3300 square feet and will seat 128 at round tables, with full AV capabilities. Adjacent to the banquet space is a catering kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, warming oven, prep area, and dishwashing/hand sinks. Just down the hallway from the banquet room is a large theater-style lecture hall that seats 206, with a 19-ft projection screen and full AV capabilities. Additional meeting rooms on the exhibit level include another 1000 square foot banquet/meeting room with full AV and space for up to 75 people, and two smaller conference rooms for groups up to 25.

High Density Vault:
The high density storage vault is 30,000 square feet divided into three rooms. It is divided into 24 rows of shelving that are 32 feet high and hold over 340,000 cubic feet of storage space. With two battery powered order pickers, the vault staff will be able to retrieve any material requested by the staff and researchers in a matter of minutes. Climate control in the vault is state of the art for optimal preservation of archival collections.

Classroom space:
There is a 10-seat seminar room and two 30-seat classrooms located on the reading room level. These will be available for general classes and lectures that utilize any of the collections housed in the building.

Exhibit space:
The exhibit space is designed to showcase the three main collections housed in the building: Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscripts, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, and Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection. Each of the three distinct exhibit spaces highlights specific collections within that department, with space for rotating displays and special exhibits. The exhibit spaces are open to the public during business hours and during special events, as requested.

Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr.

The structure is named for Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr., who served as the United States Senator from Georgia from 1933 to 1971. A native of Barrow County, Georgia, and a graduate of the University of Georgia in 1918, Senator Russell served as a representative in the Georgia House of Representatives beginning in 1920. He was elected Speaker from 1927 to 1931 and then served as Governor from 1931 to 1933 before being elected to the United States Senate. Russell’s career in the Washington, D.C. included work on the Armed Forces Committee and the Appropriations Committee, two posts that he used to secure over 40 research and military facilities in the state, thus ensuring economic growth for Georgia during his lifetime and well into the twenty-first century. For more information on the life and work of Senator Russell, visit the Russell Library website.