Special Collections and University Archives

Rare and Non-Circulating Books

Within Special Collections and University Archives in the Thomas G. Carpenter Library are books that don’t circulate because they are either rare (old and/or expensive) or hard to find. Non-circulating books include books by local authors, about local history, or they support specific Special Collections. These books are located in Special Collections on the first floor of the Library and may be used under supervision in the Reading Room.

Various rare books housed in Special Collections.

Appointments to view books and materials from Special Collections and University Archives must be made in advance at lib-special@unf.edu. Please check the library calendar for Special Collections hours.

Rare Books

Rare books include those that are old, have historic value, or are valuable. Many of these books were donated or purchased early in the university's history and are limited editions or signed.

Cover of the Library's oldest work, Epistolae sancti Hieronymi.

The Library's oldest work, Epistolae sancti Hieronymi (opened).

The Library's oldest work is Epistolae sancti Hieronymi [The Letters of St. Jerome]. It is an incunabulum (a book printed before 1501) and is dated 1496. This Latin work was printed in Venice by J. Rubeus Vercellensis. An interesting fact: St. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians and libraries, as well as archivists.

Page from Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus (facsimile).

Special Collections owns two facsimile limited editions of Leonardo da Vinci manuscripts. The collection known as the Codex Atlanticus was published in Milan from 1894-1904 and consists of unbound notebooks, sketches, drawings, and other manuscripts written by Leonardo da Vinci between 1483 and 1518. The 1,384 oversized plates show his remarkable versatility and gifts as an artist, inventor, engineer, and mathematician.

Special Collections' facsimile edition of the Madrid Codices.

The Madrid Codices were discovered in 1965 in the National Library in Madrid. These manuscripts reveal Leonardo da Vinci's wide-ranging impact on the Renaissance, with varied sketches and designs ranging from mechanical inventions and cartography to proposals for new musical instruments, and lessons for painters.

The facsimile Leonardo da Vinci editions have particular historical relevance for UNF: they complemented the University' early Venture Studies program, an innovative component of interdisciplinary studies offered by the College of Arts and Sciences during the University's first decade. Venture studies courses were designed to provide the student with a broader perspective and background in both the humanities and sciences. Leonardo da Vinci's accomplishments were chosen as the motivating inspiration for the Venture program.

Florida and Local History Book Collection

Special Collections has a non-circulating collection of classic Florida histories and books of Northeast Florida history, with special emphasis on Jacksonville and its immediate geographical vicinity (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns counties). The collection includes:

  • general histories of the region
  • early guidebooks to Florida and Jacksonville
  • souvenir albums
  • historical calendars
  • rare maps and pamphlets, and
  • books by an early local printer H. & W. B. Drew Company

Non-Circulating Northeast Florida Literary Heritage Collection

Special Collections' copy of the book Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

  • Works of local fiction in the Northeast Florida Literary Heritage Collection may or may not be authored by local writers
  • The focus of this collection is on the content: a major portion of the book must take place in the NE Florida/SE Georgia region to be included
  • Books that support what is taught in the UNF English Department regarding local subject matter, or those supporting a UNF Special Collection are also collected
  • In general, the books in this collection were published by a major publisher or small (independent) press, and not self-published.

Poetry Collection

The poetry collection consists primarily of limited/signed editions by Twentieth Century poets and printed by small literary presses.

Books in the Poetry Collection housed in Special Collections.

Turret Press (1965-1975): a small London press which specialized in publishing a limited-edition series of booklets of contemporary poets. Examples: Ishmael (Peter Straub); He will be greatly missed, a poem (Alan Bold); Last year, this year now (Jane Deverson); Six more beasts (Edward Lucie-Smith); Points (Anthony Thwaite).

The poetry book Walking With Trees by Leonard Clark. 

Enitharmon Press: one of Britain's leading literary publishers. Founded in 1967, Enitharmon is the name William Blake gave to a character representing spiritual beauty and the inspiration of a poet. The Press specializes in high-quality artists' books and original poems in small-format volumes. Example: Walking with Trees (Leonard Clark).

The book Pictures/Poems by Andrew Hoyem.

Arion Press: an American press known for its printing tradition and unique integration of art illustrations with texts. Only two to three limited edition books are designed and produced, mainly by hand, each year. Andrew Hoyem founded the Press in 1974 and is also a poet with five books of published poetry. Example: Picture / Poems (Andrew Hoyem).

Tthe book Atlantic Avenue by Robert Hershon.

Black Sparrow Press / Unicorn Press: two California presses notable for their fine printing of limited editions of the works of twentieth century poets. Black Sparrow operated in Santa Rosa from 1967 to 2002 and was known for publishing avant-garde work. The Unicorn Press in Santa Barbara, founded in 1966, publishes contemporary U. S. and foreign poetry. Examples: (Black Sparrow Press): Primitive (George Oppen); The Leaves (Ron Loewinsohn); A Selection of 65 drawings from one drawing book, 1952-1956 (Robert Duncan). Unicorn Press: Japanese Figures (W. S. Merwin); Atlantic Avenue (Robert Hershon); Twenty Poems (John Haines).

The publications of local and Northeast Florida poets are included with the works of Nola Perez, Mary Sue Koeppel, Orville Tyler and the Tyler-Palmer family, Columbus Drew, Laura Gradick, James Weldon Johnson amongst others. UNF faculty and graduates also are represented in the collection with the published works of Mary Baron, Clark Lunberry, William Slaughter, Louise Rhoads, and Valerie Anthony. 

Irish Literature Collection

The core of this collection was donated to Special Collections by Distinguished Professor and Professor Emeritus of English Richard Bizot. From 1986 through 2008 Doctor Bizot coordinated the Irish Studies Program at UNF, which was a diverse academic program including courses about Irish fiction, poetry, and drama as well as community events including poetry readings, concerts, lectures, film series, exhibits, and symposia.

Various Irish Literature volumes owned by Special Collections.