Established in 1992, the Rare Book Collection has concentrated on acquiring atlases, travel accounts and North Carolina imprints, as well as works pertaining to American education, coastal studies, slavery and plantation life in the American South and maritime, military and naval history. Although the collection of some 1,400 titles is relatively young, it is growing and includes some exceptionally rare publications dating from the end of the sixteenth century to the present. Among the collection's earliest holdings are both the 1589 and the 1598-1600 editions of Richard Hakluyt's Principal Navigations...of the English Nation. Other authors of North Carolina interest include Inglis Fletcher, Harriet Jacobs and John Lawson all of whom are highlighted in the collection.
Rare books are listed in the library's online catalog.