I'm looking for...
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 what kinds of books and manuscripts we are interested in.
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 (lmthomas AT niu.edu) 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.
- 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
The Rare Books & Special Collections Department 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 "the real thing" right here on campus. We have a departmental common press, and are happy to provide demonstrations. We are also the home for the Friends of the NIU Libraries.
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.
Individual researchers who wish to use departmental materials need not make an appointment unless they require in-depth reference assistance. Please contact Lynne Thomas, the Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections (815)-753-0255, for reference questions, questions about our collections, and the like.
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 here to serve you and your students and research. Please, make use of us!
*This statement taken from University of Idaho Special Collections--they just said it best!
The following policies and fees for copying materials held by Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University have been established to assure the preservation of the materials, allow reasonable copying by researchers, and provide as much service as possible given limited staff resources. Some materials may be too fragile to be copied. In every case, the decision to copy any item is at the discretion of RBSC staff. RBSC staff provides reference and copying services. Research for patrons outside of the University is done on a case-by-case basis, time permitting, at the discretion of RBSC staff.
Photocopies. RBSC staff will make photocopies of materials in the collections for researchers working in the reading room for fifteen cents ($0.15) per page. Patrons are not allowed to photocopy materials themselves, as these materials require special handling. Copycards are not accepted; checks under $5.00 are not accepted. Researchers requesting copies by mail or fax will pay twenty cents ($0.20) per page if the total exceeds twenty-five pages. There is a flat fee of $5.00 to cover duplication, postage and handling for photoduplication orders for less than 25 pages. Requests for less than five pages are filled free of charge. Members of the Horatio Alger Society are not subject to these charges. Checks should be made out to Northern Illinois University.
Photographic reproductions. Rare Books and Special Collections no longer has the ability to produce hard-copy photographic reproductions or negatives. Items in Rare Books and Special Collections can be digitally scanned by the Library's digitization unit. There is no charge for non-profit use in publications or exhibits by non-profit agencies. A copy of all scans remain with Rare Books and Special Collections, and may be added to our digital collections. All images used from Rare Books and Special Collections should bear the credit line, "Rare Books and Special Collections, Northern Illinois University.” In general, Rare Books and Special Collections is not the copyright holder for its materials. It is the responsibility of the patron to adhere to all applicable copyright law when seeking permission to publish.
Researchers may use digital cameras on site by prior arrangement at the discretion of the Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections.
Scanning/Digital Reproduction. Items in Rare Books and Special Collections can be digitally scanned by the Library's digitization unit to your specifications. There is no charge for non-profit use in publications or exhibits by non-profit agencies. A copy of all scans remain with Rare Books and Special Collections, and may be added to our digital collections. All images used from Rare Books and Special Collections should bear the credit line, "Rare Books and Special Collections, Northern Illinois University.” In general, Rare Books and Special Collections is not the copyright holder for its materials. It is the responsibility of the patron to adhere to all applicable copyright law when seeking permission to publish. Scans requested for exclusive use are handled on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the Curator for details.
RBSC Links: Copyright
8:00 am - noon
1:00 pm- 4:30 pm
M-F, and by appointment
Horatio Alger Fellowship for the Study of American Popular Culture
Northern Illinois University
The University Libraries, Northern Illinois University, invite applications for the Horatio Alger Fellowship for the Study of American Popular Culture. Funding is available to scholars who will be using materials from the Libraries’ major holdings in American popular culture. These holdings include the Albert Johannsen and Edward T. LeBlanc Collections of more than 50,000 dime novels, and the nation’s preeminent collections related to Horatio Alger, Jr., and Edward Stratemeyer. Eligible collections also include our comic book, science fiction and fantasy literature, and American Popular Literature Collections. Topics which could draw on the collections’ strengths might include the plight of urban children, image of the American West in popular literature, widespread use of pseudonyms, and stereotypical portrayals. Preference will be given to applicants who signify an interest in conducting research related to Horatio Alger, Jr.
The 2016 Fellowship award consists of a $2000 stipend. The 2017 Fellowship award will likely be similar.
Candidates should submit a letter of interest, a curriculum vitae, a brief proposal for their research, and two letters of recommendation to: Lynne M. Thomas, Head, Rare Books and Special Collections, University Libraries, Horatio Alger Fellowship, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115-2868. Electronic applications may be emailed to email@example.com
The deadline for applications is May 31, 2017, with research taking place between July 1 and December 31, 2017.
Unfortunately, due to state and university regulations, this award is available to US residents only.