The Special Collections Division, which is located on the library's second floor, serves as a repository and research center for historic Nashville materials. The division currently consists of the Special Collections Center, the Nashville Room, the Civil Rights Room, the Nashville Banner Archives, and four Writer's Rooms.
The Nashville Room, the Civil Rights Room, and the Nashville Banner Archives are open during all of the Main library's open hours. The Special Collections Center is open Monday-Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Appointments to use Special Collections should be made at least 24 hours in advance by contacting the department via telephone or in person (862-5782). No collection material will be pulled 30 minutes prior to closing.
Items such as oral histories and history videos/DVDs will be accessed in the division's media room located across from the Special Collections Center. For information about scheduling a group tour or research visit, please contact the division at (615) 862-5782.
Special Collections Center
The Special Collections Center, opened in October 2007, serves as an access point for the library’s extensive historic collection of non-book materials, from newspaper photographs and recordings made by civil rights-era leaders, to an 1857 map of Nashville drawn by bookseller William A. Eichbaum and a hand-blocked poster promoting Helen Hayes’ appearance at the Ryman Auditorium in the 1930s.
The center features computers, a research area, and a large screen displaying a digital slideshow of items that may be viewed in the center. Two kiosks also offer a selection of items available in our Digital Collection and for viewing and listening in the center. Deep photograph collections, historic maps, architectural drawings, collections of historic manuscripts, pamphlets and ephemera documenting Nashville’s rich history may all be requested for study in the new center.
With a special emphasis on oral history initiatives, including the Civil Rights Oral History Project, the Nashville Business Leaders Oral History Project, and the Veterans History Project, the Special Collections Center features interview rooms that will expand the reach of the center as it documents Nashvillian’s lives and their participation in history. Nashville’s contributions to the StoryCorps project during the library’s year-long partnership with StoryCorps in 2007-2008 are also accessible in the center.
The Nashville Room provides access to over 28,000 books relating to Nashville, Davidson County, and Middle Tennessee history and culture. Also accessible in the Nashville Room are the division’s extensive vertical files, microforms, Nashville Banner clippings, and maps. These materials are available for browsing in open stacks but are non-circulating and must be used in the Nashville Room reading room.
The Main Library's Civil Rights Room is housed in the Nashville Room's west wing. This space, which was opened to the public in 2003, features a permanent display of civil rights photographs from The Tennessean and Nashville Banner newspapers and a symbolic replica of the lunch counters from the sit-in movement. The room also houses a collection of non-circulating civil rights-related books.
Nashville Banner Archives
The Nashville Banner Archives, located in the Nashville Room's east wing, features a statue of a newsboy that once adorned the corner near the building occupied by that newspaper. The Division houses the newspaper's archives, and this room contains the Banner-Stahlman book collection. This room housed the Nashville StoryCorps StoryBooth from September 2007 to September 2008.
Located in the Nashville Room's east wing are four Writers Rooms: the Eskind Writer's Room, the Schweid/Mills Writer's Room, the Fred Russell and Robert Churchwell, Sr. Writer's Room, and the Jack Knox Writer's Room. These rooms are made available on an annual basis to Nashville writers through an application and selection committee process.
Writer's Room Guidelines and Application (MS Word)