Avery Classics Collection

Avery Classics Collection

The Avery Classics Collection is the rare book collection of Avery Library and one of the largest architectural rare book collections in the world.

It contains approximately 35,000 printed volumes published over seven centuries, from Leon Battista Alberti’s De re aedificatoria (1485) to the recent limited edition Glenn Murcutt: Architect (2006). The Classics collection also has important holdings of graphic suites, periodicals, manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, and printed ephemera. Its strengths reflect the Library’s original subject scope, established by Avery’s founders in 1890, that is, architecture, archaeology, and the decorative arts.

All Avery books that were produced before 1801 are in Classics. The collection also includes significant editions of major works created after 1800, as well as works that possess distinctive physical characteristics, such as special bindings, exceptional printing, innovative design, autograph inscriptions, or other signs of former ownership.

Notable special collections within Classics are the Trade Catalog Collection, which is one of the largest collections of catalogs of the American building trades anywhere, and the American View Book Collection, which includes books, pamphlets, and brochures that document cities, towns, and buildings throughout the United States.

Consulting the Collection


Hours are: Mon.-Fri. 1-4 p.m. by appointment only.

All items must be requested one day ahead of your visit as there is a 24 hour turnaround time. 


If you are a Columbia University affiliate please fill out this form in advance of your visit

If you are not a Columbia University affiliate please email in advance of your visit :

and include the title, author, and call number of the item you want.





Avery Classics (Rare Book) Reading Room (Room 234)

Reading Room Policies

  • Reader registration
    All Avery Classics readers, including affiliates, must complete a reader registration form, valid for the academic calendar year, upon arrival at the Classics (Rare Book) Reading Room.
  • Photo identification cards
    Readers must present traceable photo identification card, such as a valid passport, driver’s license, or card. Photo ID cards are held while material is in use.
  • Briefcases, large purses, bags, coats, and umbrellas must be checked with the Reading Room attendant.
  • Pencils or laptops only are permitted for note taking.  No photocopying or scanning (except theses and dissertations).
Theatre Pigalle cover


  • For personal use
    At the discretion of the attendant in the Classics collections, readers may photograph items for personal reference. Use of tripods and flash is prohibited.
  • For publication
    For terms and conditions, consult Photographic Services and Fees. Photography may not be possible due to physical condition of items; publication may not be possible due to copyright restrictions.
Niemeyer Brasilia prospectus

Avery Classics Online

Recent Acquisitions

Roman engravings

Avery Classics maintains an active acquisitions program through gift and purchase. To view lists of recent acquisition highlights, select from the following links:

Last updated Aug. 25, 2014