The Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room is located on the fourth floor of Founders Memorial Library (Room 403) and is open to NIU students, faculty, and staff as well as researchers and the general public.
The RBSC Reading Room is open Monday-Thursday from 9-12 and 1-4 during the Fall and Spring terms, and during the Summer term by appointment during regular library business hours. To schedule an appointment or access the room outside of these hours, please email or call 815-753-9392. Contact Rare Books Librarian, Beth McGowan, for further assistance.
The Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) unit of the Special Collections and Archives Department at the Northern Illinois University Libraries includes those materials that, because of their rarity, condition, form, or subject matter, are best handled separately from the general collection. Although these materials are kept in a controlled environment for preservation, we greatly support their use in classroom instruction, tours, exhibitions, research, and other instructional opportunities. We believe that interaction with rare and historical materials is important to the student experience, and we welcome the opportunity to work with faculty and instructors to incorporate primary source materials in to the curricula. We also welcome all researchers who have an interest in our collections.
There is always an exhibit on display in the Bernadine C. Hanby Reading Room, along with periodicals, catalogs, comics, and reference books available for browsing. The reading room also houses the NIU Common Press, a replica model of a wooden hand press used in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The library catalog contains the records for the books and publications held in Rare Books and Special Collections. However, some of our collections are not fully cataloged. Please contact us if you do not find what you are seeking.