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Rare Books and Manuscripts

A Featured Collection in ASU's Distinctive Collections

Children's Literature

Rare Books and Manuscripts contains books that document the history of children's literature and award-winning publications. Included are alphabet and picture books, young adult fiction, poetry books, pop-ups, biographies and unique formats. RBM also holds a large pop-up books collection. The heart of this collection is the Eugene D. Valentine Pop-Up Book Collection, but many other pop-up and movable-part books covering a large variety of subjects for children and adults have expanded the Valentine collection.


RBM houses six hornbooks and a set of alphabet discs dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Hornbooks were educational tools that originated in England in the mid-15th century. Comprised of a wooden paddle that had a handwritten lesson (such as the alphabet, numbers, or Lord's Prayer) tacked to it, a hornbook derives its name from the thin sheet of translucent horn that covered lesson to protect it from being soiled.

Young Adult Fiction

RBM holds a large collection of young adult literature published between the mid 19th and late 20th century. Gifted to the Library by Kenneth Donelson (ASU Professor emeritus, English), this collection features works by Ralph Henry Barbour, William Heyliger, Harry Castlemon, Kirk Munroe, John Tunis, among many other authors. Also strongly represented are the Stratemeyer Literary Syndicate heroes, Tom Swift and Nancy Drew. The collection is augmented by a nearly full run of The Dime Novel Round-Up (1931-2000) and an extensive run of The Mystery and Adventure Series Review (1980-1995). 

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.