Our Rare Books Collection totals over 10,300 volumes, in all subject areas, and is particularly strong in 18th and 19th century English and American literature and history, as well as religion and the history of the book. Items are placed in the Rare Books Collection for many reasons, including age, scarcity, condition, or source of acquisition. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for further details of what makes a book rare.
The oldest extant items in our collection are several leaves from medieval manuscripts. Facsimiles of important medieval books such as the Book of Kells, The Durham Gospels, The Lorsch Gospels, the Belles Heures of the Duke of Berry, and the Ellesmere Chaucer are part of our collection as well. Other holdings documenting early printing includeI incunabula (books printed with moveable type before 1501) and books from the 16th century.