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Welcome to Special Collections

A guide to visiting the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Libraries.

Throughout the year Special Collections features exhibits in our Reading Room that highlight the rich collections at the University of Iowa Libraries. Learn more about present and past exhibits here.


As part of a class session in Special Collections, your students will have a hands-on experience with intriguing and thought-provoking material. With access to these primary sources, students will learn to make connections across documents, consider issues of authority and authenticity, discover ways to use material to support arguments, and find inspiration for research or art from stories they find. Our goal is to go beyond the textbook to engage with students and get them excited about their subject matter.

Our instruction team will show your students how to search our website, navigate our online finding aids, sign up for an Aeon patron account, and how to find Iowa Digital Library and DIY History. We will work with you on selecting material for each class, as well as provide help in creating activities to help promote active learning experiences.


We take pride in fostering a community of people who care about learning the stories stored in Special Collections. That’s why we host numerous events throughout the year that allow friends to gather and enjoy the material kept by the department. We also welcome ideas for collaboration with other areas on campus and in the greater community.

Join Special Collections every month during the academic year for Iowa Bibliophiles, a group of book lovers and collectors, as we bring in speakers to talk about an aspect of book history or collecting featuring their own collections or materials from Special Collections. Learn more about Iowa Bibliophiles here.