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Rare Books and Manuscripts

A Featured Collection in ASU's Distinctive Collections

A Featured Item from the RBM Collection

illuminated initial "P" from Speculum Naturale


Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum naturale, pars secunda
Strassburg: Printer of the Legenda aurea, 1481
Hayden Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts QH41 .V5678 1481




                    (Click to enlarge)

Different items will be featured here  – check back to see what else we have

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, 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 BC 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:

Schedule a Class or Make an Appointment to View Materials
Send your request to Ask an Archivist.

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.