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Rare Books and Manuscripts

A Featured Collection in ASU's Distinctive Collections

Rare Books and Manuscripts

General Information

Rare Books and Manuscripts (RBM) is one of the featured collections in ASU's Distinctive Collections. Holdings are strong in early modern herbals, performing arts collections, and film and television collections, pop-up and moveable-parts books, contemporary artists' books, and Young Adult literature. RBM also serves as a representative teaching collection that documents major shifts in writing and technology, ranging from a Sumerian clay tablet from roughly 2100 B.C.E. to contemporary artists' books. 

Introduce Your Students to Special Collections Research

One of RBM's primary focuses is introducing students at all levels to working with primary sources and the world of special collections. To fulfill this mission, RBM welcomes students and instructors and anyone interested to visit our reading room. We will introduce you to a variety of formats including books printed during the hand press period (roughly from 1450 to 1800), serials, collections of letters, maps, and other items while showing you how to safely handle them. We hope that you will develop familiarity with what special collections are, develop confidence working with the materials, and, most importantly, discover something that ignites your curiosity.

Do you have specific interests? We welcome those inquiries too, whether it is arranging a session for a class, information about whether we have items related to a particular topic, or even general questions about what we do.

How Do I Find Rare Books and Manuscripts?

Try beginning your search in one of the following:

  • For rare books, manuscripts and periodicals, search the ASU Library Catalog.
  • For some manuscript collections, search Arizona Archives Online. Limit your search to Rare Books and Manuscripts' collections by clicking on: "Arizona State University" and "Special Collections".
  • For digital images, audio, moving images, multimedia and original research by ASU scholars, search the ASU Digital Repository.
  • Confused by all of this? Send your question to Ask an Archivist and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian will be happy to help.
Schedule a Class or Make an Appointment to View Materials
Send your request to Ask an Archivist.

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-two 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.