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Special Collections

Special Collections

Access, Research and Instruction

Monmouth University Library’s Special Collections, located on the Library’s second floor, offers a diverse range of research opportunities using rare books, medieval manuscript leaves, the New Jersey Collection, artists’ books, and The Lewis Mumford Library. Students, faculty, independent researchers, and the public are all welcome to make an appointment and examine and enjoy each of these fine collections.

What We Do

Since the invention of the codex, books have been—and still remain—a primary tool of intellectual knowledge, personal expression, and the building blocks of all civilization. Books have quelled oppression, defeated alienation, transformed lives, inspired revolutions, and generously offered all—regardless of race, creed or color—freedom and liberty. Books offer timeless wonder, and provide the entire Monmouth University community with the special opportunity to reach the past and commune with its greatest thinkers.

Our chief mission in Special Collections is to afford the uncommon yet crucially important opportunity to have Monmouth University students engage closely with primary source research. To that end, we encourage collaboration with teaching faculty and design assignments for all aspects of manuscript and print culture. Students may choose to explore any number of potential research paths within special collections including print variations and errors, multiple edition comparisons, illustration and textual impact, the history of printing, manuscript analysis, title page transcriptions, translations, paleography, censorship, local histories, author annotations, provenance, and the book arts.

Special Collections also develops rare book displays, delivers presentations and group instruction, and offer talks on all aspects of book history throughout the year. Students enrolled in the perspectives course The Story of the Book also regularly access special collections to perform assigned class research throughout the semester.

To arrange a class visit, discuss potential research assignment opportunities or attend a presentation or talk, please contact special collections librarian George Germek at 732-571-4403 or at

Rare Book Collection

a photo of a rare book

Monmouth University Library’s rare book collection supports the academic mission of the University and is developed primarily as a teaching tool for student researchers. Acquisitions are made to strengthen the teaching curricula of Monmouth University. Despite its utilitarian focus, Special Collections possesses many beautiful and rare works from important writers such as John Milton, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, William Blake, William Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and many others. Just a few highlights include an early printing of the Declaration of Independence, a Paris and Company first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and exceptional works from the sixteenth-century Aldine Press. The collection also boasts numerous rare works on the development of the Bible in English, and very fine selections of children’s literature. Some examples from the collection in the form of flipping books.

The Lewis Mumford Collection

The Mumford Collection, located within the special collections reading room at Monmouth University Library, contains over 3500 books and ephemera comprising the personal library of Lewis Mumford – the only one of its kind anywhere. View a catalog of Lewis Mumford’s personal book annotations.

Photo shows one of the detached leaves in the special collection at the Monmouth University library
Detached Leaves

Monmouth University Library’s Special Collections also maintains approximately 40 fine medieval manuscript leaves from Books of Hours, antiphonals, breviaries, psalters, and prayer books—many of which are magnificently illuminated. The collection also includes detached printed leaves from the first King James Bible, the Coverdale Bible (the first Bible printed in English), an original typeset leaf of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and a superb Kelmscott Chaucer leaf from the press of William Morris.

The New Jersey Collection

The New Jersey Collection encompasses some 3100 books, periodicals, and cataloged documents pertaining to New Jersey, with particular emphasis on Monmouth County. No appointment is necessary to use this collection.

Operating Hours and Policies

Student & Librarian researching in Special Collections

The Special Collections Reading Room, located on the library’s second floor, is open Monday through Friday 9-5, by appointment. View Reader policies.

Mission Statement

Monmouth University Library’s Special Collections Department collects, preserves, provides access to, and promotes the use of its rare and unique materials in order to support the academic programs of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and other scholars, including those outside the academic community. The Department accomplishes this mission through collection development, book history instruction, exhibitions and community outreach.

Collection Development Policy

Read the Library’s collection development policy.


Monmouth University is interested in rare book donations to help build its collections. To consider donations contact George Germek at