RMRL has been built with the acquisition of the personal collections of several individuals. In 1994, University of Chicago bought Roja Muthiah’s collection of a hundred thousand items containing books, periodicals and newspaper clippings. UoC first partnered with the Mozhi Trust and then with the RMRL Trust which was created to expand the Library operations. Subsequently, the collection was given as a parting gift, after the components of the Memorandum of Understanding were accomplished, to the RMRL Trust. As the Library is deeply rooted in south Indian culture and tradition, it was decided that the collection would remain in Tamil Nadu to form the nucleus of a research library. The other significant additions are the collections of Mu. Arunachalam, Thanjai Prakash, Iravatham Mahadevan, Champakalakshmi, A.K. Ramanujan, Milton Singer, Dennis Hudson, T.P. Meenakshi Sundaram, and several others.
To explore the exciting world of culture, RMRL has two paths: through the past and through the present. The Indus Research Centre deals with civilizational inheritance, and the newly established Centre for Study in Public Sphere engages with the contemporary aspects of culture. RMRL functions in the institutional area in Taramani, a space provided by the Government of Tamil Nadu on a long lease to the RMRL Trust.