Within its overall collection of five million printed volumes, the University of Iowa Libraries holds over 300,000 rare books. It also houses over 20,000 linear feet of archival material, including records, documents, photographs, ephemeral publications, non-commercial sound recordings, motion pictures, videotapes, and born digital material.

Non-circulating collections may be old, fragile, or highly valuable, so they must be retrieved for readers from closed stacks and their use is supervised. Photography and scanning are generally permitted.

To survey and browse these non-circulating collections, search in InfoHawk+, in Finding Aids, ask a librarian, or go to:


Image of a handwritten diary with a drawing of a catSpecial Collections

Special Collections includes rare book collections, manuscript collections, the Map Collection, the Iowa Archives of the Avant-Garde, pamphlets, photographs, posters, sound recordings, films, and more. The Special Collections reading room is located on the third floor of the Main Library.



Image of a Peace March in Iowa CityUniversity of Iowa Archives

The University of Iowa Archives collects, preserves and provides access to information about The University of Iowa that is of enduring historical, fiscal, administrative, or legal value. UA collections are accessible through the Special Collections reading room on the third floor of the Main Library.




Louise Noun and Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women’s ArchivesImage of young African American dancers

More than 1100 manuscript collections and oral histories chronicle the lives and work of Iowa women, their families, and their communities. These personal papers and organizational records date from the nineteenth century to the present.  The IWA reading room is located on the third floor of the Main Library.



Image of a sonata score with elegant cursive textThe Arthur and Miriam Canter Rare Book Room

A collection of 2000 books, scores, and manuscripts that document classical music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Materials may be accessed in the Rita Benton Music Library.




Illustration of a surgery with intestines from Icones anatomicae, 1801The John Martin Rare Book Room

5000 volumes of medical history dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The JMRBR is located in the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.