Places & Spaces: Libraries & Centers: Special Collections and University Archives: Rare Books: Collection Development Statement:

Addendum A: Abbreviated Rare Book General Policy


The Rare Book Collection in Special Collections and University Archives acquires, preserves, and makes accessible holdings in a number of fields for use by the university and general scholarly communities. The Collection holds over 65,000 books and pamphlets, 6000 broadsides, and approximately 20 medieval manuscripts. Materials range in date from the tenth to the twentieth century with the bulk of the Collection in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.


The Rare Book Collection generally confines the majority of its acquisitions through purchase to fields of strength such as all aspects of New Jersey history, printing, and culture; early American almanacs; contemporary editions of Cobbett and DeFoe; Westerners in Japan; and English language dictionaries. Other purchases are occasionally made by selectors in other disciplines and designated for the Rare Book Collection. Gifts and materials from the general collections are considered according to the following criteria:

  • Imprint Date: Books printed from the incunable period through the end of the seventeenth century are automatically considered to be rare books. Beyond that, items which should routinely considered for inclusion in the Rare Book Collection are materials printed before:
    1. 1901 in Africa and the Pacific
    2. 1876 in the United States west of the Mississippi
    3. 1851 in New Jersey
    4. 1826 in Eastern Europe
    5. 1821 in the United States east of the Mississippi, in Canada, and in Latin America
    6. 1801 in continental Europe and Great Britain
  • Other Criteria
    1. Cost - works costing more than $500.
    2. Edition - Limited editions of 500 copies or fewer. First editions of collected writers and of principal secondary works.
    3. Format - medieval manuscripts, broadsides, miniature books, theater programs, etc.
    4. Bibliographic Features - items notable for their bindings, typography, drawings, or illustrations. Also volumes containing notable autographs, marginal annotations, or those whose provenance or association with historical figures or events or which contribute significantly to a rare or rich collection already at Rutgers.
    5. Preservation - fragile items which need special handling and facilities.
    6. Security - items requiring more security than general collections can provide.

While the above materials should be considered as rare, they need not be permanently stored in Special Collections and University Archives. If, however, it is determined that a text is rare, then the appropriate storage, maintenance, and security variables should be addressed.