Rare Books & Manuscripts


Special Collections Reading Room Hours
Monday-Friday: 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 - 4:30 p.m., with the exception of holidays indicated on the library calendar.

The Special Collections Reading Room is located on floor L3 of the library.

Requesting Materials
To request access to consult rare materials, please fill out our Special Collections Request Form as far in advance as possible. Up to 6 items may be requested per appointment. A minimum of one business day's notice is necessary for the processing of requests.

Reprography and Copyright
Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office. To learn about reprography polices or to place an order, please see our Reproduction Request Form.

About Special Collections

Rare books and manuscripts can be searched via CLIO, Columbia's online catalog.

The Americana Collection
A considerable body of early American imprints, ca. 1680-1800, including sermons, essays, histories, biographies, books of poetry, prayer books, collections of sacred music, etc.

The Auburn Collection
Some 12,000 volumes acquired from Auburn Theological Seminary in 1939, and now integrated with the Library's other collections.

The Bonhoeffer Collection
A distinguished collection of primary and secondary source materials, including dissertations and papers, related to the life, thought, and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The Christian Science Collection
An important collection including manuscripts, clippings, books, periodicals, etc., documenting the literature and history (including controversies) of this indigenous American religious movement.

The Gillett Collection of American History and Theology
A large body of original pamphlets, tracts, sermons, general and local histories, biographies, etc., from the period ca. 1750-1850.

The Manuscripts Collection
Numerous western medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, as well as Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, Armenian, Ethiopic, and Syriac materials. The collection of Syriac manuscripts in one of the largest in this hemisphere.

The McAlpin Collection of British History and Theology
An eminent collection of some 18,000 sixteenth and seventeenth century imprints, sources critical to an understanding of the political, theological, and ecclesiastical climate of this important period.

The Missionary Research Collection
Tens of thousands of books, pamphlets, periodicals, reports, minutes, archival materials, etc., originally collected by a group of American Protestant mission boards and now continued by The Burke Library.

The Reformation Tracts Collection
A significant body of original imprints bearing on Luther and the Protestant Reformation.

The Sacred Music Collection
Hundreds of hymnals, scores, musicological works, theses, dissertations, etc.

The Thompson Collection
Rich in Bibles and prayer books, the collection is particularly valuable for the study of bindings and illustrations in early printed books.

The Van Ess Collection
Some 13,000 pieces, which formed the core of the Library's original collection, consisting of manuscripts and early printed books, including many incunabula.