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Princeton University Library

Library Overview

Princeton University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections supports scholarly research and instruction through extensive holdings that span five millennia of recorded history. Located in Firestone Library are seven curatorial units: Cotsen Children's Library, Graphic Arts, Historic Maps, Manuscripts, Numismatics, Rare Books, and the privately owned Scheide Library. At the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library are units for Public Policy Papers and University Archives. Princeton has been actively collecting these materials since the late 19th century, and collections continue to grow by gift and purchase. Departmental holdings now stand at approximately 35,000 linear feet of materials in Manuscripts, Public Policy Papers, and University Archives; 375,000 printed volumes in Rare Books, Cotsen, Graphic Arts, and Scheide; and substantial holdings of photographs, historic maps, coins and medals, prints and drawings, paintings, objects, and other materials spread among curatorial units.

Notable subject strengths include ancient, medieval, and Renaissance studies, European and American history and literature since the 17th century, including Victorian novelists and poets, travel and exploration, the American West and North American Indians, American foreign policy, civil liberties, and international development; 20th-century American, British, Latin American, Modern Greek, and other authors; modern publishing archives, especially Charles Scribner's Sons; non-Western manuscripts, including Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Indic languages, Ethiopic; illustrated children's books in all languages; history of the book, with substantial holdings of medieval manuscripts, incunabula (especially early editions in Scheide), and early printed editions; 18th-century English and American books, illustrated books, and fine-press editions; Greek, Roman, and Chinese coinage; prints; early photography on the Hellenic world, American West, and other subjects; maps and atlases printed prior to 1920; and Princeton University history.

The department annually attracts thousands of researchers worldwide and offers a wide range of services, including reference, digital collections, photoduplication, outreach activities, instruction, publications, public programs, exhibitions, and research grants.

Princeton University Library
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
One Washington Road
Princeton, New Jersey 08544
(609) 258-3184 (t)
(609) 258-2324 (f)