Rare Book Collection

The Special Collections Department currently possesses 50,000 rare volumes, focusing on agriculture, science, and technology.

Rare Book Collection News:


Robert R. Harvey, Professor Emeritus of the Landscape Architecture Department at Iowa State University, and a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, recently donated 100 rare and unique volumes to the Special Collections Department. Dating back to 1724, most of the volumes date from the nineteenth century and cover various aspects of agriculture, gardening, and landscape design. There will be an open house held Tuesday, October 12, 4-5:30 in the Special Collections Reading Room (403 Parks Library). Selected books from the Harvey collection will be on display and Professor Harvey will be available to answer any questions about his collection. The Library conservator, Dr. Melissa Tedone, will also be available to answer questions concerning the conservation work done on the books' historic bindings. More information on the Robert Harvey Rare Book Collection.


The Preservation Department's Lennox Foundation Preservation Intern, Bexx Caswell, has completed the rehousing of the Special Collections Department's copy of Quaestiones de veritate by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Caswell created an attractive cradle box that would support the book when in use and protect it when not in use. For more information regarding this project, please visit the following web site: http://www.bexxcaswell.com/veritate.html.

Collections of Interest:

Collections policy for Rare Books:

  • Date (earlier than):
    • 1820    (Eastern United States)
    • 1850    (Between the Appalachians and the Mississippi)
    • 1870    (West of the Mississippi)
    • 1740    (Great Britain)
    • 1750    (Europe)
    • 1870    (Asia)
  • Notable private presses
  • Significant illustrated books
  • Fine bindings
  • Limited and/or first editions
  • Autographed editions
  • Early works in history of science and agriculture
  • Scientific expeditions
  • Travel accounts in the U.S. (18th and 19th century)
  • Books on Iowa

  For further information on the these collections or to discuss the possibility of donating a collection,

Special Collections and University Archives
403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2102
(515) 294-6672