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University of Southern Maine
Libraries & Learning

Guide to Special Collections: Rare Book Collections

Learn about accessing and using Special Collections resources for your courses or research projects.

About Rare Book Collections

All books in the Rare Book collections – plus selected books in the Manuscript, Sampson General, African American, Judaica, and LGBTQ+ collections – are cataloged and searchable in LibrarySearch.

Books in Special Collections can't be checked out, but they can be requested for use in the Reading Room.

Use this part of the guide to learn about:

  • Searching all Special Collections books in LibrarySearch.
  • Searching within a specific book collection in LibrarySearch.
  • Requesting a book in the Reading Room

Browse all Rare Book Collections on the Special Collections website.


Search Within a Specific Book Collection in URSUS

Each book collection can be searched individually in URSUS.

To search within a collection:

  1. Click one of the collection titles in the list below.
  2. In URSUS, click "Modify Search" (for tips, see Advanced Searching in URSUS below)
  3. Add keywords, date ranges, or other search parameters.

Note: Bolded words in the collection title are used in the Call Number for each item in the collection. Be sure to include the complete call number in your request. See Request a Book in the Reading Room.

Rare Book Collections

Books & Serials from Other Collections, Archives, and Personal Papers

Practice Modifying a Search within the Edith C. Rice Collection of Children's Literature

Click the image below to practice filteting and modifying a search with the Shirley S. and Bernard Kazon Americana Collection.

Screenshot of LibrarySearch for Kazon collection

Request a Book in the Reading Room

Rare books are stored in a closed stacks, meaning only Special Collections staff have access to them.

To request books from the closed stacks during your Reading Room visit:

  1. Take a paper call slip from the reference desk.
  2. Write the LC Call number on line 1. Include every part of the call number! Example call number: Z232.M3 C35 2015 Howard
  3. Write the title on line 2. The first few words of the title is enough. Example: Aldus Manutius
  4. Write your name on line 3.
  5. Repeat for each book you want to request.
  6. Return the call slips to the person at the reference desk.

It's important to write the complete LC call number on the call slip, because every part of the call number tells us where to find the book.

Paper call slips

Special Collections Librarian & Food Studies Liaison

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Jill Piekut Roy
Subjects: Food Studies