RMRL has a vast collection that reflects Tamil print heritage and culture. Spanning a period of 300 years, the collection of more than 4,00,000 items comprising of books, journals, newspapers, printed ephemera and audio records. The earliest title is a book ‘Gnanpattukalin Posthakam’ published in 1797.
The Library’s notable strengths are its holdings in classical and modern literature, literary criticism, indigenous medicine, religion and philosophy, cinema and the related culture of printed works (such as song books), folklore, material by and about women, metaphysics, Gandhian studies and numerous publications of historical value. See a representation of images from the collection in the gallery section.
In addition to Roja Muthiah’s collection, the library holds the personal collections of Gift Siromani, Iravatham Mahadevan, AK Ramanujan, Robert Hardgrave, the Rudolphs, Milton Singer, Mu. Arunachalam, R. Champakalakshmi, Krithika, T. P. Meenakshi Sundaram, T. P. Kamalanathan, Edward Montgomery, Dennis Hudson, Thanjai Prakash, C.S. Narasimhan and several other individuals. Publishers such as Kalachuvadu, Kizhakku Pathippakam, Parathi Puttakalayam, Tamilman Pathippakam and Parical contribute their publications to the Library. Institutions such as The University of Chicago, The Hindu, The Indian Express, Kanthalakam and India Today provide duplicate copies from their collection and books for review.