The Library of Rare Books and Special Collections was inaugurated in 1985 to regroup the old and rare documents owned by the disciplinary libraries of the Université de Montréal. At its heart was–and still is–the Georges-Baby Collection, given to the university in 1906. This collection specializes in the history of Canada and Nouvelle-France, which is one of the core interests of the library’s collections, covered not only through the Georges-Baby Collection but also the John-Archer and the Louis-Melzack Collections.
The library’s collections do not solely cover Canadian history, they also reflect the variety and evolution of disciplines taught in the university since the beginning of the 19th century. In some cases, collections were developed within the university’s various disciplinary libraries before being transferred to the Rare Books Library for conservation reasons. This explains why collections on history of architecture and history of landscape design are very extensive, as well as those on medieval studies and on the history of law. Other collections, such as the Lajeunesse Collection of facsimiles of illuminated manuscripts or the Aragon Collection in Mexican studies, were donated by professors. The Canadian history collections are the most popular, especially since the Georges-Baby Collection has been registered as a cultural property by the Department of Culture of the Government of Québec. Specialists of European literature of the 17th and 18th centuries also are heavy users of the library’s collections and actively participate in a digitization project. Two other significant collections are the Rey-Herme Collection of youth literature from France’s Ancien Régime, and the Villeneuve Collection of textbooks. The library’s patron profiles are as diversified as the collections, and researchers come from every discipline and country to study documents preserved at the Université de Montréal.
Université de Montréal
Bibliothèque des livres rares et collections spéciales
3000 avenue Jean-Brillant
Pavillon Samuel-Bronfman--4e étage
(514) 343-6111 # 3832 (t)
(514) 343-2348 (f)