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Overview

Reading Room
Former University Archivist Elaine Engst leads a tour of the 150 Ways to Say Cornell exhibition.

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC) is Cornell University’s primary repository of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and archival materials in the fields of history, literature, music, the arts, science, natural history, and technology. The Division is also the home of the University Archives. We welcome researchers and visitors from around the globe.

The collections contain 500,000 printed volumes, more than 80 million manuscripts, and a million photographs, paintings, prints, and other visual media. These materials document the history of human experience—from cuneiform tablets to comic books, from Shakespeare to hip-hop. For a more complete description of RMC’s collections, please see Collection Highlights.

Research Access & Reference Services

Anyone may come see materials held by Cornell’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (hours are listed to the left). However, because the collections are old, scarce, and often fragile, they are stored in secure, environmentally controlled vaults and are used only in our secure spaces. Library staff members retrieve items upon request. Patrons must handle items with appropriate care and must respect any stated restrictions. Some materials require an advance appointment. If you are planning a research visit, we recommend requesting the material two weeks prior.

Researchers seeking information about specific items or collections unique to Cornell are encouraged to submit questions to rareref@cornell.edu.

For a more complete description of RMC’s facilities and services, please see Research Services.

Teaching, Public Programs & Exhibitions

RMC is committed to providing access to its collections through lectures, exhibitions, tours, and class presentations, offering nearly 300 tours and classroom presentations per year. Faculty and other instructors who wish to organize visits or integrate primary resources into student learning are encouraged to contact us. For more information, see Teaching Services, Exhibitions, and Upcoming Events.

Getting Here

We are wheelchair accessible. Please do not bring food or drinks with you when you visit us.

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections is located on Level 2B of the Carl A. Kroch Library. Access is through Olin Library on the Cornell University campus (view a map).

Upon entering Olin Library, walk directly ahead toward the green slate hallway where you will enter the Carl A. Kroch Library. Pass the Asia Collections (on your left) and proceed to the rotunda. Just beyond the rotunda, take either the elevator (to your right) or the stairs (straight ahead) down two levels to level 2B. The receptionist will point out our lockers for storing your belongings and direct you to the reference room, exhibition gallery, or meeting rooms.

For more information, see Hours, Contact Information, Information for Visitors, Finding Materials and Frequently Asked Questions.