Collection highlights and introduction: Special Collections and Rare Books

Aldine Collection

Aldus Manutius (1452-1515) was the foremost editor, printer, and publisher of the Italian Renaissance. The Wosk-McDonald Aldine Collection, consisting of Hugh McDonald's collection of 106 volumes printed by Aldus and his successors between 1501 and 1580, was donated to the Library in 1995. In collaboration with Publishing@SFU, a number of these volumes have been digitized and are available online. Special Collections and Rare Books continues to add to this collection.

Aldine Collection items: Leather-bound books.

Book Publishing, Book Arts, History of the Book

This collection includes publisher’s archives for Caitlin Press, Douglas & McIntyre, New Star Books, Nightwood Editions, Polestar Press, Sono Nis, and Talonbooks and the records of the Book and Periodical Council of Canada. Also included are the W. Lyon Blease English Private Press Books collection, Thoreau MacDonald illustrated books, and the Alcuin Society Prize for Excellence in Book Design Award winners since 1988.

The British Columbia Fine Printing collection contains publications and ephemera of several B.C. fine/private presses. In addition to items from Robert Reid's early career in Vancouver, the collection features works by Takao Tanabe (Periwinkle Press), Jim Rimmer (Pie Tree Press & Type Foundry), Jan & Crispin Elsted (Barbarian Press), Rollin Milroy (Heavenly Monkey), Gerald Giampa (Cobblestone Press) and many others.

Notable items relating to the history of the book include the 1269 Anthology of Civil Law manuscript, a Gutenberg Bible leaf (1454), and the 1896 The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer by William Morris' Kelmscott Press.

British Columbia History

Special Collections has extensive holdings of books, documents, photographs, ephemera, moving images, and other material relating to British Columbia history, politics (CCF, NDP, Social Credit), labour, social and political activism (including LGBTQ2IA+, environmental), Indigenous authors, immigration, and arts and culture, much of which has been digitized and is accessible online.

Arjan Singh Brar Collection: A suitcase, books, and a vinyl record.

Contemporary Literature Collection

An in-depth collection of 20th century avant-garde, innovative, and ‘underground’ writing in English – North American poetry mainly, including numerous limited, scarce, and rare editions. The collection also includes extensive audiotape, videotape, and manuscript holdings – writers' and poets' papers; periodical and publisher archives.

Editorial Cartoons

This collection is comprised of more than 12,000 original drawings, many political cartoons, by Bob Bierman, Graham Harrop, Bob Krieger, Joseph Laquerre, John Larter, Dan Murphy, Len Norris, Geoff Olson, Roy Peterson, Ingrid Rice, Jim Rimmer, and Edd Uluschak. These were published in Canadian newspapers and online from the early 1950s through to the present day.

Editorial Cartoons Collection

Manuscript Collection

There are over 250 archival collections, including literary, historical and publishing records.

Robert Coupe Collection of Works by and about William Morris

A comprehensive collection of rare books, pamphlets and other items representing the diverse range of William Morris’ activities as a writer, typographer and social activist.

Robert Coupe Collection William Morris book

William Wordsworth and the Lake District

Extensive holdings of Wordsworth’s lifetime and Victorian editions, and books relating to the Lake District. For a detailed history of the collection, visit SFU Department of English emeritus professor Jared Curtis’ website.

Featured collections

Learn more about some of the rare and unique featured collections held by Special Collections and Rare Books, including recently acquired or digitized works, such as the Perry the Posterman collection, the SpokenWeb project or Grace McCarthy Scrapbook Collection.

Gift Policy and Guidelines

For more information about gifts to Special Collections and Rare Books, see Special Collections and Rare Books Gift Policy and Guidelines.