About Our Collections
As a foundation for supporting research and teaching, Columbia's collections are central to the University's intellectual distinction and highest ambitions. We build, shape, sustain, and make discoverable collections that transcend traditional boundaries of format and domain, offer enduring research value, and support the intellectual curiosity of Columbia faculty and students.
Our general collections support Columbia’s curricular and research programs and include an impressive variety and wealth of material.
Our unique and rare holdings contain some of the world’s most remarkable and prominent collections of recorded knowledge, from cuneiform tablets to early printed books and born-digital archives. While critically and strategically important to Columbia’s teaching and research strengths, the constituency for our special collections extends beyond campus to a global community of scholars. Our distinctive collections and archives are primarily held by:
Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Global Studies Division
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
C.V. Starr East Asian Library
Oral History Archive
Columbia University Archives
Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research
We work to preserve our collections in the face of format degradation and digital impermanence and are committed to the widest possible global access to our collections. For many of our special collections and archives, we offer public access to digital reproductions of photographs, posters, drawings, objects, ephemera, and manuscripts. In support of research and teaching, we also offer Digitization & Copying Services for select reproduction of items in our collection.
A significant portion of our collection is made up of digital resources such as databases, e-books, geospatial data, digital images, e-journals, music, and more.
We are dedicated to building and stewarding collections that have the greatest impact on research, teaching, and learning at Columbia. Our collection choices and long-term stewardship plans are made with regard to the advancement of the mission and goals of Columbia University. Our collections are dynamic, responsive, and purposefully developed to realize the value of collections that have defined our strengths in the past as well as resources that have been traditionally overlooked. Collections are being shaped and continually enriched in ways that advance access to heritage materials representing varied contours of knowledge and diversity of content.