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Rare Books and Special Collections At Northern Illinois University: Home

A brief guide to Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University

Interested In Making A Gift?

If you would like to make a gift to RBSC, there are lots of ways to do that.

Our Collection Development Policy explains the types of books that fall within our collection scope and that we are interested in acquiring.

A sample of our Deed Of Gift document lays out the agreement when you donate. 

Gifting digital materials? This guide may help.

To make a monetary donation, please contact the Curator for more details.

To make an online donation to an existing fund, go to the NIU Foundation website, and enter the fund name in the notes field.

By topic:

  • Children's Series Literature: The Gordon W. & Jeanne M. Huber Endowment

  • Horatio Alger / American Popular Literature: The Horatio Alger Society Endowment

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature & Fandom: The Peggy Rae Sapienza Fund

  • 18th Century Literature: The Martin Kallich Endowment

  • Education, Travel, and Leisure: The Bernadine Hanby Endowment

  • General RBSC materials: The Friends of the NIU Libraries Endowment

  • British Drama: The S. Orville and Adra Baker Library Endowment


Rare Books & Special Collections of the Northern Illinois University Libraries includes those materials that, because of subject coverage, rarity, source, condition, or form, are best handled separately from the General Collection.* Materials in RBSC do not circulate outside of our department.

This subject guide will grow over time. For more information about our collections, please click on the tabs above related to your interests!

We believe that although these materials are kept in a controlled environment for preservation reasons, they should indeed be handled and used--through classroom instruction, tours, exhibitions, research, and other instructional opportunities. We believe that primary materials are an integral part of the educational experience, provide students, faculty, and individual users at all levels in nearly all subject areas with interaction with rare and historical material right here on campus.

We welcome individual researchers, community groups, and class visits at all academic levels, from elementary school through graduate school and beyond. We happily create presentations to suit your syllabus or lesson plans.

Individual researchers who wish to use departmental materials need not make an appointment unless they require in-depth reference assistance. Please contact Sarah Cain, Head of Rare Books and Special Collections, for reference questions or questions about the collections.

You (yes you!) are also welcome to drop by and just visit: we always have an exhibit on display, along with periodicals and catalogs of interest to book lovers. Curiosity is reason enough. 

We are happy to assist you in your research, whether you are faculty/staff, a student, or a member of the public. Please contact us!

*This statement taken from University of Idaho Special Collections--they just said it best!

Subject Guide

RBSC Location & Hours

Founders Memorial Library, 4th floor (rm 403)

Hours: Monday - Friday

8 a.m. - noon; 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

and by appointment

Comic Book Nook









We are delighted to introduce the Comic Book Nook, a collection that steps outside of the bounds of conventional restricted access policies of RBSC libraries. Visitors are able to browse the shelves, as accustomed to in public libraries, and are encouraged to handle and read anything and everything on the shelves! Visitors using the Comic Book Nook are not required to register as typically done when using RBSC materials. 

Sounds great! So, what exactly is in the Comic Book Nook? The majority of the comics are superhero themed, with a few alternative comics available as well. 

Check back periodically for new acquisitions as the Comic Book Nook will continue to grow!  

Visitors are welcome anytime we are open: Mon-Fri from 8AM-noon, 1-4:30PM.