Mortimer Rare Book Room History

Before they were “rare”  

The genesis of the rare book collection came in the 1940s when early printed books were brought from the general library stacks into a more protective environment. The presence of library call numbers on the spines of many books now in the Rare Book Room indicates that they circulated at one time: students could check them out for use outside the library. Before the current reading room opened in 1962, there were other areas in Neilson Library and elsewhere where special books were kept: Locked Stacks, Grilled Section, Room 32, Librarian’s Office. Some books were initially kept in departmental libraries, such as those for Chemistry and Zoology, and later transferred to the Rare Book Room. Most “rare” books in the college are now kept and used in the Mortimer Rare Book Room, although there are some non-circulating collections at Hillyer Art Library and the Werner Josten Performing Arts Library at Smith.