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Literary Research in Special Collections

This guide provides an introduction to conducting literary research using Special Collections. Collections at University of Maryland Libraries are featured, but information on other collections is also presented.

Using Rare Books in Literary Research

Using rare books can be a valuable part of literary research. 

  • Looking at an actual copy of a first or early printing of a work of literature allows one to see the book as planned by the author and as others first saw it when it was published.  As well as seeing the text as it first appeared, the researcher can see first hand what illustrations, type, paper, binding, dust jacket, etc. the work first appeared with.
  • Looking at subsequent printings and editions of a work can establish the transmission of the text after publication. 
  • Inscriptions by the author or notable owners of a book can establish connections to the author or other notable persons.
  • Annotations in the book by the author can add insight on the author's intentions.  Annotations by others may also be useful.

Finding Books in Libraries

Use these Union Catalogs to find books in the University of Maryland Libraries and in other libraries. Use the Find It button or the Interlibrary Loan website to place requests for items not owned by the UM Libraries.