Rare Book & Manuscript Library


In order to use the collections, all visitors to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library are required to create a Special Collections Research Account. Registering as a special collections user also allows you to request materials online before your visit.


Search Tools


The Columbia University Libraries online catalogue is a primary tool for locating RBML materials.

Archival Collections Portal

This portal provides access to records of archival collections at Columbia University Libraries, including finding aids, collection descriptions and available digital content, such as online exhibits and images.

Oral History Portal

Use this portal to explore the collections of the Columbia Center for Oral History (CCOH) Archives at RBML.


Quick Links

Spring 2020 Programming Brochure

The latest public programming guide is now available, which has the details on our newest exbhitions, lectures and more. You can view it here.

Current Exhibitions

Enchanted Vision: The Arthur Rackham Collection

Mirror of Humanity:  Seeing Ourselves in Playing Cards

August 26, 2019 - January 31, 2020
Kempner Gallery

Playing cards were once condemned as “the Devil’s picture book,” gaudy bits of pasteboard that encouraged sins such as time-wasting and gambling. Mirror of Humanity: Seeing Ourselves in Playing Cards instead approaches playing cards as mirrors which retain images of past perceptions of ourselves and others. Please join us on November 11 for a gallery tour of this exhibition, followed by a reception at Hex & Co., where we will announce the winner of a playing card design competition. RSVP here


The Year of Water: Selections from Columbia’s Book Arts Collection January 20, 2020 - July 3, 2020
Chang Octagon

To mark Columbia University’s celebration of the “Year of Water,” the Rare Book & Manuscript Library is exhibiting artists books relating to that theme. Items range from New York City Rainfall 1987 by Sandy Gellis, a portfolio of prints which document a year’s rainfall, to this year’s My Mighty Journey, which traces 12,000 years of a waterfall’s existence, with illustrations created with natural materials found by the river and  wood engraving by Gaylord Schanilec.

On January 21, please join curators and book artists Russell Maret, Maria Pisano, Sarah Plimpton, and Ken Shure, for a hands-on look at some of the featured books in their historical contexts, with relevant selections from the collections dating back dating back to the 15th century. RSVP Here