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. Its strengths reflect the Library's original subject scope, established by Avery's founders in 1890: architecture, archaeology, urbanism and the decorative arts.
- Avery Classics contains approximately 40,000 printed volumes published over seven centuries, from Leon Battista Alberti’s De re aedificatoria (1485) to the recent limited edition volume, Olafur Eliasson’s Your House (2006).
- The Classics collection also has important holdings of graphic suites, periodicals, manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, and printed ephemera.
- 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 Viewbook Collection, which includes books, pamphlets, and brochures that document cities, towns, and buildings throughout the United States.
Working with the Collection
Because Avery Classics’ materials are rare, unique, and usually irreplaceable, they are subject to a higher level of security than other library materials. Avery Classics collections do not circulate and can only be accessed in our Reading Room. Researchers are required to create their own Special Collections Research Account to request to see materials in the Avery Classics Reading Room. You will need to provide a current address, email, telephone number, and other contact information. Upon your first visit, you will need to validate your account in-person with a government issued photo identification or a Columbia ID.
Once you have created your Special Collections Research Account, you will be able to request materials.
All items must be requested ahead of your visit. Turnaround times will vary depending on the materials requested as offsite materials may take up to 3 days to arrive on campus. Please note that readers are limited to 5 items per appointment.
- from the CLIO online library catalog record: click on "Request: Special Collections" on the right side of the page
Once you have followed the steps to request materials, you will be prompted to schedule a date for your request. Your appointment is not confirmed until you have received an email to that effect from Avery Classics staff.
To Schedule a Class:
Contact us to schedule a class using Avery Classics materials. Past classes have focused on topics ranging from Renaissance architectural treatises to New York City land maps to Modernism in Print. We are happy to help you to develop sessions relevant to your syllabus.
What to expect at your visit:
- Face masks must be worn at all times per University policy. Face shields are also permitted. However, latex gloves will not be allowed for the safety of our materials.
- You will be asked to wash and thoroughly dry your hands before handling your requested materials.
- Staff may ask you to move away from the table as they adjust any supports or demonstrate safe handling of materials.
- 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 food or drink is allowed in the reading room.
- For personal use
At the discretion of the assistant in the Classics collections, readers may photograph items for personal reference. Use of tripods and flash is prohibited.
- For publication
Avery's Digital Imaging Studio is currently closed for new high-resolution photography due to staffing transitions. We anticipate reopening during the Fall semester (2022), but have no firm date. We may be able to offer lower-resolution alternatives. Please contact us with questions and be as specific as possible regarding the desired image and intended use. Photographic and/or reproduction fees may be charged for an image request. For general terms and conditions, consult Digital Imaging Services. Please note that photography may not be available or possible due to the physical condition of objects. It is the patron's responsibility to clear all rights for works of art protected by copyright.
- In all cases images of Avery Classics collection materials should be properly cited. A full citation includes Avery's credit line :
Avery Classics, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
See image captions at left for other useful citation information.
Avery Classics Online
- A.J. Downing & His Legacy
- American Viewbooks
- Avery's Architectural Novelties
- Avery's Architectural Ephemera Collections
- Avery Classics on the Avery Library blog
- Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes
- Digital Serlio Project
- John H. Yardley Collection of Architectural Letterheads
- McKim, Mead & White Photo Albums
- New York Real Estate Brochure Collection
- Seymour B. Durst Old York Library
- Past Exhibitions
Last updated Jan. 20, 2016