Rare Books


The mission of the Rare Books Policy is to evaluate, select, organize, preserve, and provide access to rare books that support the curriculum and research missions of the law school and law library.


Most of our rare books in the Rare Books Room 432, a closed-stacks room. Some of the rare serials are in the basement, also a secure location. Exceptions are made when a donor specifies that their gift books be placed in the regular circulating collection. The Roy Selby gifts fit into this category.


Books in the Rare Books Room are available to law faculty, law students, lawyers, and other patrons who have a scholarly need. Rare books are not available when a librarian is not on duty.

Make appointments with the Kathryn Fitzhugh, the Special Collections Librarian. Her hours are: Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 8:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., and Thursdays, 2:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m.

When the Special Collections Librarian is not available, other librarians may retrieve rare books and allow patrons to use rare books in Room 134, the Special Collections Reading Room, on the first floor, using the following procedures:

  • Librarians check out the materials at the Circulation desk.
  • Walk the patron to Room 134.
  • Monitor the patron closely.
  • Users of rare books do not have to fill out the archives application.
  • Give users a copy of the Rules and Procedures for the Use of Special Collections Archives Materials because the same rules apply concerning care and security.
  • Use the Special Collections checkout form to make sure the patron returns books so that they can be checked in and shelved.

Please note that some rare material is freely available in other formats. Many are also available in the Making of Modern Law (MOML) database. ACTS OF ARKANSAS and TERRITORIAL ACTS are available on microfiche. Search Themis to find specific titles and locations.


The Law Library accepts rare books as gifts and transfers rare books to Special Collections from its open stacks, basement, and other areas. Occasionally the Law Library purchases rare material in support of its mission. Final decision on acquisitions rests with the Law Library Director. The Special Collections Librarian makes decisions about transferring books to Rare Books, with notice to the Law Library Director.

Criteria for Acquisition: General

Morris Cohen’s criteria (Cohen, Morris L., Administration of Rare Materials, Chapter 14, in Muller and Kehoe, eds., LAW LIBRARIANSHIP: A HANDBOOK, Littleton, CO: Rothman, 1983) are followed, but shaped to conform to our mission. The general criteria are as follows:

Books dated as follows, although these dates are not absolute:

  • Monographic material printed in the United States before 1870.
  • Monographic material printed outside the United States before 1800.
  • Serial publications printed in the United States or elsewhere before 1820.
  • Books of substantial historical interest, regardless of date of printing that cannot be obtained on the open market, either as in-print publications or as reasonably priced and easily available secondhand books.
  • Books that have a unique value or quality by virtue of their physical publication (e. g., limited editions, private printings, etc.), their past ownership or association, or internal notes or annotations of significance.
  • Books whose market value is significant. Price alone is an inadequate criterion for this purpose but obviously it must be considered. Market value can provide a useful clue to rarity as in the case of certain early volumes of state session laws or court reports, of which few copies were printed or where the back stock was destroyed by fire.
  • English nominatives that are original editions of English named reports covering cases before 1870.

Criteria for Acquisition: Arkansas Legal Materials

  • Books important to the legal history of Arkansas. This category includes biographies of Arkansas lawyers and jurists.
  • Pre-1950 Arkansas legal treatises.
  • Arkansas state and territorial primary law published 1850 or earlier.
  • ACTS OF ARKANSAS published before 1900.
  • Arkansas legal periodicals.
  • ARK-LAW, the Arkansas Law School yearbooks.
  • Exceptions to these criteria are made for items of significant value.


The Law Library does not provide appraisal services.