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Welcome to Special Collections

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

Welcome to the Artists Book Collections

The University of Iowa Special Collections is home to over 4,500 artists' books, in addition to examples of papermaking, calligraphy and lettering arts—from early manuscripts to contemporary artists, and fine press printing. The collection spans a wide range—tiny books (less than three inches high!) to extra-large volumes and broadside prints—and includes important examples by Claire Van Vliet, Hedi Kyle, Jan Voss, Gudrun Zapf von Hesse, Andy Warhol, Tia Blassingame, Julie Chen, Russell Maret, Emily Martin, Louise Bourgeois, Carolee Schneeman, and Patty M. Smith, among others. And, we're continuing to add more every day!

Start by searching InfoHawk+ for Subject contains (artists' books), and take it from there!

  What are the Book Arts Collections?

Emily Martin's Out There In Here artist's book. Tunnel book.

Book Arts at The University of Iowa Special Collections encompasses all of the following:

  • Artists' books
  • Book works
  • Bookbinding
  • Broadside prints
  • Calligraphy and lettering arts
  • Fine Press Printing
  • Print Ephemera
  • Zines



Image: Emily Martin, book artist. Out There in Here (2012). UI Special Collections call no. FOLIO N7433.4.M364 O87 2012. Campus Map


  Using the Book Arts Collections

Ready for cool books?

Register and Create an Aeon Account:

We recommend registering as a patron prior to your first visit to help make your trip more efficient. You will use the Library's system, Aeon,  to place holds and request materials.

Request special collections materials via Aeon:

Researchers can manage their personal information, and track their requests from any computer using the Aeon system. All special collections materials are Reading Room use only; researchers must visit Special Collections to access materials.


Visit Special Collections:

The Special Collections Reading Room is located on the third floor of the Main Library. We invite you to visit us at any time during our open hours. Once you have registered and filled out a request in Aeon, a staff member will retrieve your item(s) for use in the Reading Room.


View Materials:

When you arrive at Special Collections, stop at the Reference Desk, and check in with a staff member (be prepared to show ID to confirm your identity). The staff member will review some basic tips to keep in mind when using library materials. If you have any questions about handling anything, always feel free to ask someone at the desk for help.

Please review our Guide, How to Use What You Requested, for full details on materials handling, and other Reading Room policies.

You are welcome to take photographs (without flash), and scanners are available in the reading room, but please consult a staff member prior to using them.


Cite Collections and Copyright:

We ask all of our users to consider copyright laws when posting or publishing any materials found in our collections. Since a good deal of our book arts materials are the work of living artists, you may have to secure permission from the artist before publication. Rights assessment is your responsibility.

If you are publishing something and would like to cite our collection, please follow the suggestion below:

[Collection Name (if applicable)], Special Collections, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa; OR Courtesy of Special Collections, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.