Special Collections

Special Collections libraries are under-utilized resources for locating high quality literature. This project showcases three such libraries around the country, to help would-be patrons envision what you can do on a visit to a Special Collections library in your area.

In addition to literature, many of these libraries are repositories of primary source documents, artwork, and cultural ephemera, all of which would help enliven a young person’s understanding of the world.

The protocol for accessing Special Collections libraries is to first contact the curator or staff to set up an appointment, and indicate your general area of interest. This allows the library to prepare for your visit ahead of time, and to locate materials which may be stashed in sub-basements or on high shelves.

Pre-planned visits by groups of students—or any other patrons—may be welcomed by most curators. It’d be an opportunity for the rarely seen items to be viewed through the prism of contemporary questions. Librarians at public library branches or at universities may be able to help you locate Special Collections libraries in your area.