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Special Collections

About Special Collections

Special Collections acquires and preserves unique intellectual and cultural heritage materials, including a wide range of publications, personal papers, monographs, manuscripts, artwork, artifacts, electronic resources, and photographs. Collecting priorities include the history and development of children’s literature; African American literature and culture; Detroit and Michigan history, art and literature; the sciences, including medicine and nursing; Michigan historical law; specialized teaching collections in support of curriculum; and rare books that enhance these collecting priorities.


Wayne State University Libraries Special Collections collects, organizes, describes, preserves, and maintains unique intellectual and cultural heritage materials and promotes the use of these resources by the University community, scholars, and the public. Our goal is to advance scholarship, student learning, and faculty innovation to support the educational, research, and service missions of the university and uphold its values of collaboration, integrity, innovation, excellence, diversity and inclusion.


Special Collections aspires to be a vibrant research and learning environment for Wayne State University students, faculty, and the wider scholarly community. We will provide access to our Libraries’ special collections and expert guidance in their use in order to facilitate personal discovery and the creation of new knowledge.

Rare Books & Special Collections

Rare books are defined as printed books or manuscripts that, because of age, uniqueness, monetary or historic value, scarcity or limited/nonexistent holdings elsewhere, are housed separately from the circulating collections in a secure location.

Special collections are identified groups of library holdings that have been arranged by theme, provenance, format, or subject comprehensiveness/intentional groupings. Special collections are usually housed separately from the general collections, but may be distributed throughout the general collections and intellectually grouped through guides, finding aids, or catalog access. Rare books may be part of a special collection.

Special Collections Team

The Special Collections Team comprises staff from across the Library System who contribute to the mission and vision of Special Collections.

  • Jan Bissett, Reference & Faculty Liaison Services Librarian and Librarian for the Michigan Law Collection, Arthur Neef Law Library
  • Rachael Clark, Collections Strategy & Assessment Librarian and Subject Specialist for the School of Information Sciences
  • vacant, Walter P. Reuther Library
  • Ella Hu, Biomedical Sciences Reference & Research Informationist and Librarian for Shiffman Medical Library Historic Collection, Shiffman Medical Library
  • Amelia Mowry, Metadata & Discovery Services Librarian
  • Alexandra Sarkozy, Science & Digital Scholarship Librarian and Subject Specialist for History, Nursing, Philosophy, Religion