Rare Books & Special Collections

Located in the historic Douglas Library, W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections operates as a research and teaching resource for students, faculty, and the larger community. We preserve and provide access to a variety of materials including rare books, maps, posters, and our impressive Canadiana collection.



W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections welcomes undergraduate and graduate class visits. We offer instructional sessions using collection materials in either our Seminar Room (the Graham George Room) or our Reading Room depending on availability.

  • Teaching with Special Collections
    Our collections are intended for teaching. Special Collections instruction sessions provide students with the opportunity to conduct hands-on research with primary sources, develop research skills, learn how to handle rare materials, and prepare for future independent work in special collections.
  • Schedule a Class
    We kindly ask that instructors request classes a minimum of two weeks in advance. We can generally accommodate a maximum of twenty students, but will do all in our power to meet your needs. Contact Special Collections if you have questions about class size.


We are home to a variety of collections from the earliest printed books to the personal libraries of great authors such as John Buchan and Robertson Davies. At the heart of our collections is our extensive Edith and Lorne Pierce Collection of Canadiana—a repository of Canadian Studies materials that dates from Canada’s earliest histories and literature to its newest.

  • Material Collections
    Our collection areas include: Canadiana, rare books, history of science, children’s literature, maps, broadsides, posters, newspapers, pamphlets, and sheet music.
  • Finding Aids
    Several of our collections having finding aids to help you locate primary material not listed in the catalogue.
  • Digital Collections
    We are in the process of digitizing our collections. Images of 18th Century British Political Pamphlets, Canadian Pamphlets, stereoscopic view cards, The Young Ladies’ Journal, and World War I Victory Bonds posters are available online through QSpace.
  • Collecting Policies
    We adhere to collecting policies to determine what materials belong in the W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections. Please refer to these documents should you have any questions.
  • Donations
    We welcome gifts-in-kind that meet our collection guidelines, as well as donations of money designated for the purchase of rare materials and/or for the conservation of our collection. Your support is essential for us to accomplish our important mission.

Exhibitions & Events

We support a rich exhibition program and hold events throughout the year. Please contact us if you would like to partner with us on a future exhibit or event.

  • Upcoming Exhibitions and Events
    A list of our current and upcoming exhibitions and events.
  • Virtual Exhibits
    Virtual exhibits created using rare books or special collections. Included among the exhibits are those curated by our Digital Humanities Assistants.
  • Past Exhibits
    A record of past exhibitions curated by W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections.


Special Collections partners with the Master of Art Conservation program to offer a one-year Conservation Graduate Assistantship. We also offer a Digital Humanities Undergraduate Assistantship to Arts & Sciences students who are interested in pursuing digital humanities research.


There is a wealth of bibliographic resources available online. The following bibliographic guides have been compiled by our special collections librarians to assist you with your research. We also maintain a large reference collection that you can use in our reading room.

several people at a desk with laptops viewing a presentation
Join us for a journal article publishing workshop

Please join us for a journal article publishing workshop on Tuesday, December 5th at 9:00 am in Stauffer Library, Room 014.

cheerful snowman wearing tricolour toque, mittens, and scarf
Holiday Donation Drive at Stauffer Library 

We invite the Queen’s University community to help us decorate our tree with a little holiday magic. From now until December 17 we will be accepting donations of new hats, mittens, and socks to be distributed to local agencies via the United Way.

Ask Us

Ask Us

For help locating resources, using the library, or to request a research consultation, try our Ask Us service.

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You can use our email form to contact a specialist in this area.