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Rare Books in Special Collections in Performing Arts

Guide to collections in SCPA that contain rare books, in part or in whole.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it okay for me to touch these materials with my bare hands?

  • A: Yes, generally it is safe to handle old paper and books with clean dry hands. Gloves are only worn in handling rare books if the material is dangerous to you. The tactile feedback lost by glove use is more dangerous than the minimal oils from your skin are to the papers. Watch the video below for further information!

Q: How old is the oldest thing in SCPA?

  • A: The oldest rare book is a Dutch hymnal from the 1770s, but there are other facsimiles and score fragments in our collection that predate that from circa 15th-16th c. 

Q: How can I see these materials? 

  • A: Log into Aeon (or use the finding aid to navigate to the collection and box you want) and make a request for the items you want to see, and then don't forget make an appointment with SCPA's curator (by emailing or to come in and check them out!
  • The finding aid will have a "Request Box #" button in the top right-hand corner that will take you to your Special Collections researcher account in Aeon--like the one pictured to the right. 

Cotton Gloves and Old Books? No way!-Video