Rare Book Librarianship
An Introduction and Guide
by Steven K. Galbraith and Geoffrey D. Smith
June 2012, 185pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-59158-881-8
$60, £47, 53€, A83
eBook Available: 978-1-59158-882-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Modern digital technologies and a growing interest in the history of the book as an academic discipline have refocused attention on rare and historic materials. Today’s modern digital technologies have enabled new ways to archive and share these documents, but the proper care and preservation of the original is still a challenge.

Successfully managing rare book collections requires very specific knowledge and skills. This handbook provides that essential information in a single volume.

Rare Book Librarianship for the 21st Century is the first new rare books handbook of practice in 25 years. Authored by two special collections experts with extensive field experience, this book is also the first to discuss the role of digital technologies in managing a rare book collection.

After a fascinating discussion of the history and current state of rare book libraries, this handbook provides a comprehensive account of the core skills and knowledge needed to be a successful rare book librarian. Topics include best practices for handling, housing, and conserving rare materials; collection development techniques; and user education and outreach. This book will serve as a handbook for practitioners in academic settings, large public libraries, and special libraries, and as a textbook for students in MLIS courses on rare book librarianship and curatorship.


  • Provides a bibliography of reference resources for rare book librarians
  • Includes sidebars with examples drawn from real-life experience
Steven K. Galbraith, PhD, is curator of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology and former Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Books at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.

Geoffrey D. Smith, PhD, is head of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. He holds a doctorate in American literature and textual studies from Indiana University. He is the author of American Fiction, 1901–1925: A Bibliography and is general editor for a series of textual editions of William S. Burroughs under The Ohio State University Press. Smith has written critical articles on Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and William Dean Howells in addition to numerous publications on rare book and textual studies topics.


"This handbook is recommended for any rare book and special collections librarian, teachers and students in library science, or anyone charged with the care of rare books."—College & Research Libraries, September 1, 2013

"Special collections librarians and practitioners overseeing rare book collections of varying sizes within an academic, public, or special library setting may find this work useful. The novice and those who supervise professionals that manage rare book collections will benefit most."—Library Resources and Technical Services, July 16, 2013

"Galbraith and Smith’s Rare Book Librarianship is a logically structured, practically oriented introduction that covers all the essentials of a demanding and complex field in a concise and engaging style."—Australian Library Journal, February 1, 2013
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