The Chávez Library Building houses two sets of collections: the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, which occupies the main level, and the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, which is on the lower level. Portions of the library and the photo archives collections were originally housed in the Palace of the Governors.
The historic library building was constructed in 1907 as the Santa Fe Women’s Board of Trade Library. In 1932 it was expanded and renovated to serve as the Santa Fe Public Library. The city library moved across Washington Street in 1987, the building was purchased for the museum in 1990, and in 1996, the building renovations were finished. The building and library department were named after Fray Angélico Chávez, who donated book proceeds for the building project.
In addition to its many historic associations, the building contains two noteworthy decorative features.
Inside the stairwell on the east side of the building is a fresco painted by the artist Olive Rush in 1934 for the WPA. Titled “Con Libros no Estas Solo” or “The Library Reaches the People,” the mural shows New Mexico children and adults reading and celebrates the power of literacy and access to books.
Behind the reference desk in the Reading Room on the main level is a tile wall with illustrations by José Cisneros that commemorate events and people in New Mexico’s history.
Besides a reading room the library includes a rare book room, map room, closed stack area, and cold storage shelving for manuscripts. The photo archives contains a similar set of spaces dedicated to protection and use of its collections. Access is by appointment only.