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Rare Book Collections

An introduction to the major rare book collections held in FSU Special Collections & Archives

Rare Books Collections

The rare books collections at FSU Special Collections & Archives comprise over 90,000 volumes of printed materials ranging in date from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries. These books represent significant examples from the history of text technology, as well as areas of particular historical, geographical, and sociological importance. Collecting strengths include 19th century English and American poetry, Napoleon and the French Revolution, Scottish history and literature, children’s literature, early travel and discovery of the Americas, early English bibles, 20th century avant-garde literature, and artists’ books.

Using Special Collections & Archives

Special Collections & Archives welcomes the use of its material by patrons and researchers in our two reading rooms, the Special Collections Research Center Reading Room and the Claude Pepper Library Reading Room. To learn more about visiting SCA, please click on the following link:

Research Assistance
Researchers are encouraged to contact Special Collections & Archives staff regarding use of Special Collections & Archives materials in class assignments, scholarship, personal research, and general inquiry. For research assistance, please email us at

Researchers can also request in-person and virtual meetings with Special Collections & Archives staff. To book an appointment, please use our online tool:

Instruction Sessions 
We invite instructors teaching at all levels in all departments to consider a class visit to Special Collections & Archives during your course. Visits to SCA locations can include any of the following content, directed by you and/or SCA staff:

  • Active learning with objects from Special Collections & Archives
  • Orientation to FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives
  • Introduction to archival and/or primary source research
  • Custom sessions built around your course goals and objectives

To place a request for a class visit to the Special Collections Research Center or Claude Pepper Library, please use our online form:

To further discuss the possibilities of a Special Collections & Archives class visit, please use our online tool to book a research consultation:

Locating Materials in Special Collections & Archives

FSU Libraries Catalog Advanced Search -
The FSU Libraries Catalog is the best source of information on rare books collections. It also includes description of some archival collections, with links out to finer description in the Finding Aid Database (see below).

  • To limit your search results to Special Collections holdings, use the facet Library: “FSU STROZIER, Special Coll” located on the left-hand side menu of your search results
  • Limiting search by year (“Start and End Dates”) is often useful to Special Collections researchers
  • Sort or Narrow search results using terms in left-hand column
  • Click through search results to get full records for books or collections
  • Anything mentioning “Special Coll” in Location information is available through the Special Collections Research Center reading room in 110 Strozier Library
  • To request specific books in reading room, use the Title and Call Number (Location). For example, to see this book, (Links to an external site.), ask for Sketches of St. Augustine, Special Coll Florida -- F319.S2 S5 1849.

Finding Aid Database -
The Finding Aid Database is the best source of information about our archives collections. 

  • Searches can be limited by record type; keyword, title, creator, and subject; and by date
  • Filter search results using terms in right-hand column
  • Click through search results to get full records for collections or archival items
  • Researchers can browse by topical area by clicking on “Classifications”
  • Most collections available through the Special Collections Research Center reading room in 110 Strozier Library
  • Some collections note that “Users may access this collection at the Claude Pepper Library” - Claude Pepper Center, 636 W Call St
  • To request specific items in the reading room, use the collection title, collection Identifier, and box number (citation)
  • Collections belonging to non-FSUL repositories can be accessed by using the contact information on the Repository’s page

Digital Library -
The FSU Digital Library Includes digital copies of Special Collections & Archives items, born-digital collections, and digital objects hosted for other organizations

  • Use keyword search at the top of the screen, advanced search in the tool bar, or click through themed collections to discover digital objects
  • Sort or Narrow results using terms in left-hand column or search within a collection using the search box on the right side.
  • Click through Search Results to get full records and see digital copies
  • Summary tab - see a digital copy
  • Item Description tab - information about the digital object
  • Click through “Subject(s)” to find related digital items
  • Check the “Is Part Of” field to find related items in Special Collections & Archives

Developing Keyword Searches

Keywords are what we use to search databases, but rarely does a single keyword produce perfect or complete results. Resources may not be described how you expect, and this is why approaching a search with multiple terms will produce the best outcome. 

When formulating keywords, focus on:

  • Identifying the main concepts of your topic or research question
  • Brainstorming synonyms and antonyms
  • Spelling out any words that are abbreviated
  • Avoiding abstract concepts as search terms

Example Search

Research Question: What is the history of the Everglades and how are they a unique ecosystem?

Keywords: Everglades, Florida, swamp, marsh, wetlands, mangroves, ecosystem, flood control, Lake Okeechobee, Florida Bay, cypress, Miami, manatees, alligators, sawgrass, Kissimmee River, biodiversity, coastal prairie, aquifer, environmental restoration

Special Collections & Archives


Main SCA Website

Email SCA Staff

Visit SCA

FSU Library Catalog
Filter results for SCA by selecting "Library > FSU Special Collections and Archives"

FSU Finding Aid Database

FSU Digital Library

Special Collections & Archives Reading Rooms Hours

Summer 2024

SCA Research Center
110 Strozier Library, Main Floor
(850) 644-3271

Monday By Appointment
Tuesday 11am - 5pm
Wednesday 11am - 5pm
Thursday 11am - 5pm
Friday By Appointment

Claude Pepper Library Reading Room
Claude Pepper Center, 636 W Call St
(850) 644-9217 

Monday By Appointment
Tuesday 11am - 5pm
Wednesday 11am - 5pm
Thursday 11am - 5pm
Friday By Appointment

The Florida State University Libraries

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