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Mortimer Rare Book Collection

Important Announcements:
All visiting researchers can now access the Special Collections Reading Room by booking an appointment 24 hours in advance. The Special Collections Reading Room is open to Smith students, faculty and staff who are in the campus COVID-19 screening program. Emeriti faculty, Five College students who are registered for a Smith course, Smith research affiliates, and invited guests are also welcomed. Masks continue to be required in all indoor shared spaces.

Curator of Rare Books working with student

Mortimer Rare Book Collection

The Mortimer Rare Book Collection houses the college's rare books and literary manuscripts. Broad in scope, it includes works from all time periods and in subject areas as diverse as ancient history and zoology. Among the highlights of the collections are the papers of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf.

See Rare Books & Literary Archives collections for a list of major holdings.

Book Studies Concentration

The book studies concentration connects students with the exceptional resources of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection and the wealth of book artists and craftspeople of the Pioneer Valley. Through classroom study, field projects and independent research, students learn about the history, art and technology of the book. The book is broadly defined to extend from oral memory and papyrus scrolls to manuscripts, printed books, and digital media. Read more about the book studies concentration...

The Five College Project on Digital Medieval Manuscripts

The Mortimer Rare Book Collection contributes to Digital Scriptorium, a Mellon-funded project that makes available digital facsimiles of medieval manuscripts. The project is an free, international tool for teaching and scholarly research on pre-modern manuscripts. The manuscripts, digitized from local repositories including those held by the libraries and museums of the Five Colleges consortium, are accessible in their entirety. The project involves undergraduate and graduate students to study, scan and catalog the manuscripts.

Collection Development

For information about collection development for the Mortimer Rare Book Collection, please see the Collection Development Strategy.