Fondren Library

Located at the center of the academic quad, Fondren Library is a serves as a hub of learning in Rice’s educational community, providing access to scholarly information, research support, library instruction, and computing and study facilities. Fondren is the home of books, journals, and print materials, as well as of a wide range of audio-visual media, sound recordings, data sets, and rare and unique collections of books, photographs, manuscripts, and maps.  The library also links users to a world of scholarly information available through licensed online databases and journals and a vast network of reciprocal borrowing agreements with libraries around the world.

Library resources

Fondren currently holds almost 3,000,000 print volumes, more than 172,000 print and electronic serial titles, and almost 100,000 audio and video recordings covering a wide range of topics in art, architecture, history, literature, music, philosophy, languages, economics, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.  Almost 1,140,000 itemsare kept at the Library Service Center, an off-site storage facility with a volume capacity of 1,750,000.  A second mocule of the LSC is scheduled for compleion in August 2020.  Moreover, thanks to an agreement between Rice University and the Texas Medical Center, Fondren users now have access to holdings at the Houston Academy of Medicine — Texas Medical Center Library, a private, stand-alone, and not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization that stands as the only organization in the Texas Medical Center that serves all other TMC member institutions.

Special collections

The Gilbert and Ruth Whitaker Business Information Center is located within the Jones Graduate School of Business in McNair 270 and provides access to current business journals, books, directories, and corporate annual reports.

The library also houses special collections both on- and off-site. Among the many on-site collections is the Woodson Research Center, a repository for rare books, manuscripts, and university archives.  Also of note is the Brown Fine Arts Library, which offers access to a rich collection of materials on art and architectural history, film and photography, music scores, sound and video recordings, periodicals, books on music, and a range of archival holdings.

The Kelley Center for Government Information, Data, and Geospatial Services is a Federal Depository Library for the 7th Congressional District of Texas and a Patent and Trademark Resource Center that provides access to government information, patents and trademarks, microform materials, and maps.

The GIS Data Center provides access to geographic information software and supporting hardware, data resources, and print and digital map resources.  

Lovett Hall, 1919

The Gilbert and Ruth Whitaker Business Information Center is located within the Jones Graduate School of Business in McNair 270 and provides access to current business journals, books, directories, and corporate annual reports.

Library services

With 64 professional staff and 40 support staff, Fondren staff provide unparalleled research assistance and library services in person, over the phone, or online.  Subject librarians can help Rice faculty, staff, and students find the information they need for a research project or a course.  In particular, they can answer reference questions, teach students how to use various electronic media, advise where and how to identify materials relevant to teaching and research, and attend departmental meetings to discuss the library’s resources, services, and off-site selection guidelines for materials in a particular discipline.

In addition, Fondren’s subject librarians also compile and maintain Library Research Guides (LibGuides), which are selections of specialized resources, each on a particular subject, designed to help people quickly navigate through the wealth of information that is available at the library.  The subject librarians can assist faculty with creating a customized research guide, complete with suggested resources and instructions, for a classroom assignment, or with creating an assignment to help students learn particular research skills. Upon request, the subject librarians will hold reference hours for a particular class, as well.

Digital resources and training

Digital Media Commons

Fondren offers a wide array of digital information, services, and training through Rice University’s Digital Scholarship Services (DSS), which comprises the Digital Scholarship Archive, the Digital Media Commons, the GIS/Data Center, and the Kelley Center for Government Information, Data, and Geospatial Services.  The Digital Scholarship Archive is Rice’s institutional repository where the university’s intellectual output is shared, managed, searched, and preserved.  Most materials are digitized collections of rare or unique books, images, musical performances, and manuscripts;  materials also include Rice faculty members’ research and students’ electronic theses and dissertations. The archive runs on DSpace, an open source software package.

The newly renovated Digital Media Commons (DMC), located in Fondren’s basement, offers services, workshops, and equipment to support the design and use of multimedia in education, scholarship, and creative expression.  Likewise, the GIS/Data Center offers many options for GIS training, including regularly scheduled, guided short courses, one-on-one assistance for a specific project, and self-directed study in the Center’s computer lab or online.  The Kelley Center for Government Information routinely schedules classes on how to conduct patent (national/international) searches and provides training (one-on-one, small group, or integration into a course) on trademark searching, legislative resources, legal resources, and statistical information (e.g., the U.S. Census).

The Digital Curation Lab (DCL) is a collaborative workspace for digitization, digital curation, and data management projects. Staff are available to provide training on digital preservation issues as well as scanning and project support. By providing a common space and the tools for digital curation, the DCL promotes interdepartmental and cross-campus collaboration.

Work and study spaces

Therapy pets

Fondren has ample space — much of it newly renovated — for work, study, and relaxation.  Most recently, a large portion of the library’s first floor was renovated to provide a new reading room, which is now open.  Study space in the Brown Fine Arts Library has been recently refreshed.  The total number of user seats stands at 1,578.  Also renovated are 44 study rooms;  updates include comfortable chairs, added power outlets, adjustable lighting, noise-reducing carpets and ceilings, new paint, and fresh artwork.  In addition, the Digital Media Commons is now housed in more spatious basement quarters, allowing room for new resources, including a video and photography studio and an audio recording booth.

Open study areas are located throughout the library, and open and closed study carrels are located on the second through fourth floors throughout the library’s general stacks.  The locked study rooms are available for four hours at a time.  The library offers designated areas for viewing or creating audio/visual material, and has a music study practice room.  Copiers, printers and scanners are located throughout the library.


Information was gathered and text excerpted from the Fondren Library website (, as well as the following affiliated websites:

Last updated:  March 2020.