McConnell Library Archives opens new reading room

The McConnell Library Archives Reading Room, a new space for scholarship and learning, is open for business on the Radford University campus.

A reception to celebrate the opening of the new space will be held on Thursday, April 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. on the 5th floor of the library.

"With the opening of the Archives Reading Room, McConnell Library is enhancing the ability of our Archives and Special Collections Department to offer first-rate public service and access to the library’s most rare and unique holdings," said Archivist Christopher Miller. "The space itself and our staffing plan is focused on a user experience that promises to be welcoming, comfortable and productive."

The room will support research at Radford by offering scholars a clean, quiet and professional place to pore over original materials like documents and photographs. A wealth of materials of historical or academic interest reside in the RU archives and the room will be a premier staging area for access to them.

In addition to celebrating the new space, the April 17 reception will herald the acquisition of the George and Melody Bragg New River Coal Fields Photographic Collections which will significantly expand existent archival holdings that uniquely contextualize the coal mining experience in Appalachia from the perspective of the labor force, Miller said.

The Bragg collections feature the photographs of W.O. Trevey, R.E. Ribble and W.W. Vail, three men who dedicated their lives to capturing the experience of the Appalachian coal miner in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Radford University Archives and Special Collections supports the teaching, research and public service missions of McConnell Library by collecting, preserving, organizing and making accessible materials that document the history of Radford University, Southwest Virginia and Appalachia.

The reading area is open for research Monday through Friday from 9-5 p.m. and other times by appointment. For information or to arrange an appointment to visit the Archives, please contact

Apr 8, 2014