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A Catalogue of the Library of the State of Virginia

William Harvie Richardson (1795-1876). A Catalogue of the Library of the State of Virginia . . . Richmond: Samuel Shepherd & Co., 1828.

The thirty-one-page Catalogue of the Library of the State of Virginia is the earliest extant list of books and maps that the commonwealth of Virginia owned. William H. Richardson, the clerk of the Council of State and librarian ex officio, compiled and published the catalog, which lists 659 titles, several of which were of multivolume works. The total number of volumes in the library was 1,582. Of those volumes, about a hundred had been inherited from the library of the colonial Council.

Between 1823 and 1828 the General Assembly provided for the administration of the Library and created a fund for the acquisition of books. During those years, the state spent $1,779.04 to enlarge the Library. Richardson published this catalog when the first expenditures for expanding the Library had been completed. This copy of the printed catalog may be the only one in existence. Its contents and the contents of the catalogs printed in 1831, 1839, 1849, 1856, and 1877 document the growth of the Library during the middle years of the nineteenth century. From 1829 to 1904 the commonwealth of Virginia invested $334,242.64 in the purchase of books, manuscripts, and works of art for the state's research library. The Library became one of the largest and best research libraries in the South by the beginning of the twentieth century.