The University of Houston Libraries Special Collections currently preserves more than 106,000 rare books, ranging from medieval manuscripts to contemporary artists’ books, as well as over 2,000 periodicals. The Rare Books Collections focus on rare Bibles, British and American literature, Houston and Texas history, Hispanic literature and history, LGBT literature and history, as well as fine press books.
The Rare Books Collections support scholarship and student success by serving as tools for hands-on discovery, original research, and the development of critical thinking skills. Materials are not only available to UH students and researchers, but to the community beyond the campus as well. Anyone can visit the Special Collections Reading Room to view the treasures in person.
“The Rare Book Collections of the University of Houston are of signature importance for scholars now, and in the future,” said University Libraries dean Lisa German. “This collection, along with our other Special Collections, is what distinguishes UH Libraries from others, and we are creating a real treasure for scholars at the University and around the world.”
The Libraries also displays rare books in exhibitions to bring delight and knowledge to the public. An upcoming cultivation event, the White Glove Salon, will feature items from the Rare Books Collections and allow guests to experience a few of the rare treasures firsthand. “Items on display will include the 14th century Book of Hours, Use of Reims, a handwritten and hand-painted devotional book featuring whimsical marginalia of animals and musicians, and Edward Topsell’s 17th century History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents, which features woodcuts of animals both familiar and fantastical,” said Julie Grob, Rare Books Collections curator. “Rare items such as these will be paired with artist-created books that were each inspired by an object in the Rare Books Collections.”
Collections like these are built largely on gifts from individuals, whether they be single books, treasured collections built over years, or endowments intended to build and expand collections. Books are accepted into Special Collections based on their rarity, significance for research, and condition.
Leigh Owen, a member of the Libraries Dean’s Campaign Committee and Cabinet supporting the Rare Books Collections, will co-host the April event with Dean German. “The range of the remarkable books and significant artifacts housed in the University of Houston Rare Books Collections are examples of the true treasures of our human history,” Owen said. “They will be the stars of the White Glove Salon.”
To learn more about donating to the Rare Books Collections in Special Collections, please contact curator Julie Grob at 713.743.9744.