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About the Library

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is home to early manuscripts, rare books, and literary papers in the broad fields of literature, history, art, technology, religion, pedagogy, theater, and the natural sciences.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML), established in 1936, is home to over six hundred thousand volumes and several kilometers of manuscript material, including early manuscripts, rare books, and literary papers. The RBML is renowned for its outstanding collections of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, early printed books, English literature, American wit and humor, theater history, free speech movements, Italian history, the history of economics, the history of science and technology, mathematics, geology, and natural history. The literary papers of such notable figures as Marcel Proust, Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, William Maxwell, Gwendolyn Brooks, Shana Alexander, and W.S. Merwin are also housed in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is a vibrant center for historical materials, embracing its role as a cultural destination for the campus and the region, while remaining a place of serious research for Illinois students and faculty and for scholars from around the world. The library is open to anyone wishing to use the collection.

View the library’s brochure (pdf)

View the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s Introduction Video