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M.S. in Library and Information Science

With Specialization in Rare Books and Special Collections


The 36-credit Master of Science in Library and Information Science program – accredited by the American Library Association – offers you an opportunity to specialize in Rare Books and Special Collections. Rare books and special collections are enjoying new popularity as part of the recently developed interest in the history of the book among universities, historical societies and museums. Both scholarly and popular communities are currently interested in special collections which might include film, posters, photographs, correspondence, architectural plans, designs, and printed ephemera. Specialists work as curators, researchers, dealers, exhibition planners, scholars, and administrators of collections.

The Rare Books and Special Collections concentration is offered in Manhattan at the Palmer School facilities at New York University’s Bobst Library. You may take the core course requirements at LIU Post in Brookville or at LIU Brentwood. Visit the “Locations” buttons on the left side of this page for more information.

As part of your course of study, you will explore the wealth of historic materials and resources in New York City repositories. New York City is an acknowledged center of rare book and special collections activity located in public and institutional collections, clubs, auction houses and universities. There will be ample opportunity for contact with members of the City's bibliophilic community. LIU Post also houses a respected Special Collections Department located in the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library.

Through a unique arrangement with the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia(UV), Palmer School students may take selected Rare Books and Special Collections courses for credit in UV’s School of Library and Information Science.


Students will develop proficiency in rare book curatorship, archival techniques, the history of the book, rare book cataloging, preservation and exhibition planning. They will become acquainted with major collections through field trips and internships, and will have opportunity to meet experts in this area.

In addition to the regular course schedule, specialized courses will be offered as Special Topics. Included as Special Topics are scheduled visits to great collections, the history of various aspects of "the book," and an introduction to the book trade and auction world. Other Special Topics can be arranged in response to students' needs and interests.

A student will be expected to complete four courses for this concentration (12 credits): LIS 713 (Rare Books and Special Collections Librarianship) and a history of the book class—either LIS 658 (History of the Book), or one of several other historically oriented classes that meet this history of the book requirement. Check with the program coordinator about eligible history-of-the-book courses, either in the Palmer program or at various Rare Book Schools with which we have special arrangements. In addition, students should select two pertinent elective courses from the list below:

  • LIS 603 Humanities Sources and Services
  • LIS 657 Introduction to Preservation
  • LIS 714 Archives and Manuscripts
  • LIS 763 Metadata: Description and Access
  • LIS 519Great Collections of NYC
  • LIS 652 Exhibitions and Catalogs in the Library

Special Topic: Collecting and Managing Ephemera; Artists’ Books (offered occasionally; both count as a history of the book)

Courses in web design and digital libraries are strongly recommended even though they do not count toward the concentration per se.

Upon graduation, students who complete these requirements will receive a letter from the Dean and Coordinator of the concentration acknowledging their achievement; this letter should be requested from the Coordinator, J. Fernando Peña

Note: Students may also take up to two courses in the University of Virginia's Rare Book School at either the University of Virginia or its Manhattan location as part of this concentration. This option must be approved by the Palmer School of Library and Information Science before the student enrolls in the Rare Books and Special Collections program.

Students interested in this concentration should contact J. Fernando Peña before beginning their specialized courses in this area. J. Fernando Peña, who oversees the Rare Book and Special Collections concentration, will review with students their goals and backgrounds, and will work with them to identify a set of courses that will meet their objectives.


There are no separate admission requirements for students interested in the Rare Books and Special Collections specialization, but ideally students should arrive with a good undergraduate or graduate preparation in the humanities and at least one year of study in a foreign language.