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Rare Books: Getting Started

Visiting SWC/SCL

Visitors and walk-ins are always welcome at SWC/SCL!  

There are some things to keep in mind, however, when requesting materials in the reading room:

  • For a first visit, you will need to complete a Reading Room Registration Form.
  • All materials are non-circulating, so items requested must remain in the reading room. 
  • Only laptops and notes stamped with SWC's identification stamp are allowed in the reading room.
  • Electronic recording devices such as cell phones are restricted items.
  • Lockers are provided for your privacy and security.
  • Due to the condition or special requirements of some materials, the time to retrieve some items may vary. 
  • If you're planning to use a large collection or a significant amount of materials, a working day's notice is appreciated.

Welcome to Rare Books!

What are Rare Books? 

They are library materials that are not housed with the general collection due to their:

  • unique subject 
  • rarity
  • condition 
  • format
  • value
  • source

What kind of Rare Books are at the Southwest Collection/Special Collection Library (SWC/SCL)? 

Our Rare Books collection is a unique resource among the 38,000 volumes held at SWC/SCL, providing a rich environment to foster scholarly research and other creative endeavors. Among rare and early printed books housed here, you will find illustrated or finely-bound limited editions, artists' books, manuscripts, and maps that cover: 

  • history of science and medicine
  • American and European literature
  • book history and book arts
  • Russian and European history and culture
  • Mesoamerican and medieval European manuscript facsimiles
  • Greek and Roman classical authors
  • dowsing 

May I request items from the Collection? 

This collection is non-circulating, meaning that they are not eligible to be borrowed. You are, however, more than welcome to request materials to view in our reading room. For more information, please see our guide on requesting materials.

**Please note that materials housed in vaults are not always accessible to patrons on nights and weekends.**

How do I search?

Items in the SWC/SCL are searchable through the University Library catalog

1. Type your search term(s) into the "Start Your Research" search box.

Start Your Research Search Box

2. Press Enter (Note: The Advanced Search box  does not conduct a search for your keywords).

3. Click on the Everything drop down menu.

Everything Drop down menu

4. Click on Library Catalog.

Library Catalog

6. Click on Books and Media drop down menu.

Books and Media

7. Select Southwest Collection/Special Collections.

Select Southwest Collection


Useful Contacts

Bruce Cammack

Associate Librarian, Rare Books


Phone: (806) 834-7974

Dr. Diane Warner

Department Head, Rare Books


Phone: (806) 834-0466

Libguide Design: Joshua Salmans