Using collections



All human rights archival collections are managed by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) located in Butler Library and are accessible to researchers in their reading room. Most human rights archives are held in off-site storage and should be requested in advance. 

Archival collections are open to all members of the University community and the public. Please note that some materials in the human rights archives may be restricted.  Please consult the relevant finding aids for more information.  All materials are non-circulating.

Contact for assistance with accessing and requesting archival materials.


General Collections

General Collections (books, journals, films, etc.) are held throughout campus libraries and most materials circulate.  Access to general collections in campus libraries is limited to Columbia students, faculty, staff and members of affiliated institutions. Please consult our visitor information site to learn more about access policies.

Overview of Holdings and Libraries

  • Global Studies
    Network of area and subject specialist librarians who develop interdisciplinary collections covering the following regions/subjects:  African Studies, Jewish Studies, Latin American & Iberian Studies, Middle East & Islamic Studies, Russian, Eurasian & E.European Studies, South & Southeast Asian Studies.
  • C.V. Starr East Asian Library
    Holds collections from and about China, Japan, Korea and Tibet, in languages of those countries as well as materials in English and other Western languages about East Asia.
  • Lehman Social Sciences Library
    Contemporary collection of social sciences materials, e.g. sociology, political sciences, international affairs.  Lehman is also U.S.  federal government document depository.
  • Columbia Center for Oral History
    Largest and oldest oral history program in the world; holds recorded interviews and transcripts with several collections related to contemporary and historical human rights topics
  • Butler Library
    Humanities and history collections, e.g. biography, historical works, literary, cultural topics, feature and documentary film.
  • Arthur W. Diamond Law Library
    Significant holdings of international law, treaties, IGO documents including the UN, International Court and tribunal records.  Journals and books relevant to HR, esp. legal aspects, treatments.
  • LibraryWeb
    Access to many online sources including subject guides and pointers to free web-based information. Note that many databases are accessible only to current Columbia students, faculty and staff.

Exploring the General Collections

  • Use QUICKSEARCH, and select the CATALOG option to focus your search in  CLIO, Columbia's online library catalog.  This allows you to search all campus library holdings except for the Law School and Teachers College.

Search Pegasus  for items held in the Columbia Law Library.

  • Research Guides highlight major resources in Columbia's collections and beyond.

Contact with questions about general collections.