Main Library · Special Collections

Over the past 150 years, generations of Main Library staff have gathered many extraordinary and valuable resources, some of them unique to this library system. The generosity of local citizens has supported these efforts, through gifts and bequests. In recognition of this collective work, join us for a brief tour of some of the Main Library’s special collections and treasures.

  • Artist’ Book Collection. Our collection contains stunning examples of the “book as art” by well-known international, national, and local artists. Learn more…
  • Bible Collection. The foundation of the Library’s Bible Collection was laid in 1925, when gift funds were used to purchase the private collection of Rees C. Vidler of Denver, Colorado. Today the collection includes over 250 printings of the whole and various parts of the Bible, in over 15 different languages. Learn more…
  • Cincinnati Opera Archives. We’re proud to be the new custodian of the Cincinnati Opera Archives, which extend from 1883 to 1994 and include a wealth of material chronicling the history of the Company. Learn more…
  • Dictionary Collection. Our collection contains first editions, as well as later editions, of the works of such great lexicographers as Nathan Bailey, Samuel Johnson, John Walker, and Noah Webster. Learn more…
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs Collection. The collection includes over 140 volumes, most of which are hardback first editions. Although the emphasis is on the Tarzan titles, the collection also contains other lesser-known series, such as the Barsoom, Pellucidar, and Venus books. Learn more…
  • Inland Rivers Library. The Inland Rivers Library offers a wealth of material documenting more than two hundred years of river history. Learn more…
  • Lafcadio Hearn Collection. The noted journalist, author, educator, translator, and interpreter of Japanese life and culture was closely associated with Cincinnati for a number of years. Learn more…
  • The Theodore Langstroth Collection. Langstroth, a local businessman and avid student of Cincinnati prints and printmaking techniques, donated a large collection of lithographs and scrapbooks to the Library. Learn more…
  • Loeb Collection. The Loeb Collection was a gift to the Library from Cincinnati native Eda Kuhn Loeb. Funds from Mrs. Loeb’s gift were used to purchase livres d’artiste—rare, signed, limited editions of books illustrated by late l9th and early 20th century artists. Learn more…