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Special Collections

In general, materials from Special Collections may be used from 9am - 4pm Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Please refer to our hours page for the most up-to-date information on the availability of the Special Collections viewing area. Walk-in requests can be made at the Circulation Desk. However, to allow our staff to retrieve the items ahead of time and make the best of your visit,  we highly recommend contacting us in advance with your request. Please review our policies and procedures for viewing special collections materials prior to your visit.

Mann Library's Special Collections hold materials that are too rare, valuable or fragile to be housed in the regular stacks. They consist of more than 17,000 volumes, many of which contain hand-colored illustrations, engravings and lithographs.

Many volumes in our Special Collections originated from the personal libraries of great Cornell figures such as Liberty Hyde Bailey, Anna and John Henry Comstock, and Martha van Rensselaer. In several cases these bequests have become the basis of specialized collections of particular importance, including:

Phillips Beekeeping Collection

An endowment named in honor of apiculturist and Cornell professor Dr. Everett Franklin Phillips (1878-1951) supports the world's largest and most valuable collection of books and manuscripts on bees and beekeeping. The Phillips Beekeeping Collection endowment, established in the mid-1920s, is Mann Library's oldest endowment, originally funded by New York State beekeepers and royalties received from the Dyce Honey Patent.

Rice Poultry Collection

The Rice Poultry Collection, named after Cornell professor James E. Rice, America's first professor of poultry husbandry, is a major repository of information on poultry science. Over 800 pre-1900 volumes, the earliest works in the poultry collection, are housed in Special Collections.

Language of Flowers Collection

Our remarkable Language of Flowers Collection was donated to the library by award-winning garden writer Isabel Zucker '26. The 147 volumes in this collection include many early 19th-century texts on the art of expressing emotions, sentiments, and moral lessons through floral arrangements. They are a valuable resource for researchers in Victorian culture, horticulture as art, and women's lifestyles.