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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.


The WSULS Special Collections Team is working hard to preserve the the library’s valuable and rare materials, and to share them with the wider community. The Wayne State University Library System welcomes donations in the form of financial contributions supporting the University Libraries. For more information, see Giving to the Library System.

Please note, due to critical space limitations, the Wayne State University Library System does not normally accept donations of books or journals to the collection. If you have materials you are looking to donate to an institution, please see Guidelines for Gifts In-Kind.

Collection Policy

Types of Materials

Special Collections collects books, journals, newspapers, manuscripts, ephemera, film, video, and a variety of other original materials. Emphasis is placed on acquiring items in their original states. We accept limited archival collections related to our core collections that may contain a very broad range of formats and material types including, but not limited to, paper documents, photographs, slides, film, computer files, sound recordings, and objects. For the most part, donations of extensive archival material not related to our core collections will be offered first to the Wayne State University Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs. Donations of archival material related to our core collections will be retained in Special Collections.

Physical Condition of Acquisitions

Because Special Collections has limited preservation and conservation resources, we only accept donations in the best possible physical condition. Exceptions may be made in instances where the scarcity of an item in any condition warrants accepting a less-than-perfect specimen.

Duplicate Copies

Donation of duplicate copies of material already owned is discouraged. Exceptions may be made in instances where the work itself has a very high value, or a proposed second copy has unique features not found in the first. The general rule is against adding redundant copies of published works.