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  Special Collections Operational Procedures

During the Fall 2020, Special Collections will be open by appointment only. The number of researchers will be limited to 3 per hour.

To reserve time in the Special Collections reading rooms, please contact or call (662) 325-7679.

The Rare Book Collection houses, preserves, and protects thousands of rare and diverse volumes, and makes them available to researchers. Through the years, MSU Libraries has purchased or received donations of many important, historic and valuable books.

MSU Libraries' Rare Book Collection includes:

  • Books printed before 1501
  • Books printed in any language before 1700
  • Books printed in America before 1825
  • Books printed in the American South before 1861
  • Confederate imprints (books printed in the American South between 1861 and 1865)
  • Books printed west of the Mississippi River before 1850
  • Books with fine or special bindings from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries
  • Books valued at $500 or more

A book of high intrinsic importance which has a demand greater than the available supply, thus creating a market value.

Many factors play a part in determining a book's rarity:

Importance of content

Is the content of historical interest?


Is it one of the only examples of its kind?


Are there few existing copies?

Printing date

Was the book printed long ago, or in a significant time period?


Is it a first or limited edition?


Is the book in good condition?


Did the author, or someone close to the author, a famous person, or someone who was associated with the book, own or annotate the book?

Binding and printing

Is the book bound or printed with a specific material or technique? Was it printed by an important printer?

For more information:

Fred Smith, Coordinator of Rare Books

   (662) 325-3935