The Rare Book Room is located on the fourth floor of Burton Barr Central Library. This specialized collection consists of the Alfred Knight Rare Book Collection, an artist made book collection and a reference collection on the history of the book and the book arts. A Washington Press circa 1895 made by the Ostrander Seymour Company of Chicago was donated to the Phoenix Public Library in 1988 and graces the entrance to the Rare Book Room.
The Alfred Knight Rare Book Collection consists of about 3400 items including cuneiform tablets, illuminated manuscripts, the second and fourth folios of Shakespeare and a leaf (page) from the Gutenberg Bible. Mr. Knight, a retired business executive, willed his books and manuscripts to the library in 1958. More than half the collection comprises works by and about Shakespeare.
Treasures of intricate craftsmanship, artists' books include every artistic medium and method of bookmaking. The library book art collection, established in 1983, includes works from the great presses of the 20th century as well as livres d'artiste, altered books, sculptured books, editions with special bindings and one-of-a-kind books. In 1993, funds were earmarked through the Percent for Arts program to enhance this collection.
The Washington Press in the Rare Book Room affirms the tradition of letterpress and fine printing. The press is an educational resource used for printing demonstrations and for printing projects. Members of the Arizona Javelina Press meet on occasion in the Rare Book Room to print and learn the art of letterpress.
Access to materials in the reading room and/or the vault is by appointment only. Call the Rare Book Librarian at (602) 534-7866 for an appointment
Art, Exhibits & Events