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University Library


Special Collections Division Portal: RBML

About the RBML

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign is one of the largest repositories for rare books and manuscripts in the United States. The collections—nearly half a million volumes and three kilometers of manuscript material—are strong in the broad areas of literature, history, art, theology, philosophy, technology, and the natural sciences. 


Manuscript and book holdings range from approximately 3000 B.C.E. to the present. The collection of over twelve hundred fifteenth-century printed books (incunabula) is one of the largest university collections in the United States and is especially strong in classical texts, theology, pedagogy, and science. Particular collection strengths also lie in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with distinctive and deep collections in English literature, including works by and about Shakespeare, various important editions of the Bible, school books, and works by and about John Milton.

Literature, history, and science are well represented, with strong holdings in first editions of nineteenth- and twentieth-century English authors, books related to travel and exploration, and social history. Also noteworthy are collections in radical literature and Anarchist newspapers, natural history, fine press and typography, and the history of publishing. 

Literary archives include the papers of H.G. Wells, Carl Sandburg, W. S. Merwin, and Gwendolyn Brooks, letters of Marcel Proust, and various archival collections associated with such figures as Anthony Trollope, John Ruskin, Grant Richards, William Allingham, Richard Bentley, Benjamin Disraeli, Lewis Carroll, and John Richardson, among others. The library also holds 162 cubic feet of unpublished film and television scripts.

Selected Manuscript Collections:

The Carl Sandburg Papers

The H.G Wells Collection

The Marcel Proust Letters

The Gwendolyn Brooks Papers (finding aid coming soon)


Using the Library

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is open for all students, faculty, and community members to use!

Follow these steps:

1. Register online at:

2. Find materials through the Online Catalog

3. Click on the link that says "Request the item for use in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library"

Visit Us

Our collections are open to all students, faculty and community members! 

We are located on the 3rd floor of 346 Main Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

We are open 8:30am-5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

For more info:

Join Us

Book culture and the life of the mind are celebrated in numeorus regular and special programs.

Videos from the RBML

(our introductory video can appear here when it is ready)