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Rare Book and Special Collections Division


Searching for Early Works





Significant progress has been made in recent years to provide online cataloging records for the division's holdings. The phrase “Request in: Rare Book /Special Collections Reading Room” appears at the bottom of online records for rare books. If the book is in a special collection within the division's holdings, an abbreviation of that collection name is part of the call number. Examples include “Am Imp” for the American Imprint Collection and “Carson” for the Marian S. Carson Collection.

Special card files in the reading room still provide valuable access information for collections that have not been cataloged and for cataloged collections for which there are no records online. Other special files have provenance, inscription, and binding information on books from many collections. These and other finding aids are mentioned, where appropriate, throughout the chapter.

The division's own dictionary catalog contains 650,000 cards that provide access to almost the whole of the division's collections by author or other form of main entry and, in some instances, by subject and title also. The card file was closed in 1991 and no cards have been added since then. It remains available in the reading room for access to those collections whose records are not yet online.

There is no single catalog that contains records for all items held in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Some items are found only in published bibliographies or divisional finding aids.

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