Friends of the Richmond Public Library


The first Richmond area library had a modest beginning with the donation of eight volumes of religious texts to a new college in the outpost of Henricopolis.  The year was 1621.

While institutions of learning were common during the early days of Richmond, it was not until 1812 that the local government rented two rooms on Marshall Street to found the Christian Library; our first Public Library.  The next century brought public funds and private initiative together to create a number of accessible libraries around the city.  They organized in 1905 as The Richmond Public Library Association, and by 1924 had opened the first official public library in the Ginter House on West Franklin Street.  Its collection housed 15,000 books, and Richmond had its first librarian, Washingtonian Thomas P. Ayer.

Realizing the value of public access to books and knowledge, a group of concerned Richmonders formed The Friends of the Library in 1959.  Under the leadership of Arthur W. Harrison, they began a mission of outreach and activities that grew the Richmond Library into the vibrant entity and community resource that it is today.

The entire timeline of Richmond Public Library can be viewed at