The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the largest publicly accessible special collections repositories in the United States. The collections—over 600,000 volumes and just over two linear miles of manuscript material—encompass the broad areas of literature, history, art, theology, philosophy, technology, and the natural sciences. Established in 1936, the RBML is renowned for its outstanding collections of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, early printed books, English literature, American wit and humor, theater history, free speech movements, Italian history, the history of economics, the history of science and technology, mathematics, geology, and natural history. The literary papers of such notable figures as Marcel Proust, Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, William Maxwell, Gwendolyn Brooks, Shana Alexander, and W.S. Merwin are also housed in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
In keeping with the University of Illinois’ public education mission, RBML staff stewards the largest publicly available University collection of rare books and manuscripts in the United States as part of the public trust. They believe that rare books and manuscripts are for everyone, and they take their mission to preserve and share these treasures held in public trust very seriously.
Students and faculty, the RBML community both on and off campus, and scholars and visitors from around the world join RBML daily to access deep, varied collections of historical books and manuscripts. Thousands of Illinois students visit RBML annually through hundreds of class and group visits; they also regularly host local K-12 school groups.
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is deeply committed to making a shared cultural heritage publicly available to all who wish to interact with it.
In addition to making their collections available to the general public for use in their reading room upon request, they have a robust public outreach program, including exhibitions, conferences, workshops, open houses, and lectures.
- Monday through Friday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
- The library is closed on University of Illinois holidays. These include Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Memorial Day