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About The William R. Oliver Special Collections Room


The William R. Oliver Special Collections Room houses Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's collection of rare and unique materials including books, manuscripts, personal papers and historic photographs. In addition, the archives of the Carnegie Museums and Library of Pittsburgh are maintained and preserved because of their continuing legal, fiscal and historical value to the institution.

This department is named in honor of lifetime trustee and long time supporter William R. Oliver in recognition of his dedication to and support of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and of his interest in its special collections.

The Oliver Room's holdings of over 25,000 unique items are heavily used by the researcher, scholar and general public. The collections are important to the local community, the region, the state and the nation. This unique resource serves as a source for archival material that cannot be found elsewhere in the United States.

In addition, the Oliver Room handles reference questions concerning rare books, book values, book collecting, autographs and a wide variety of preservation-related issues including care and handling of print and nonprint materials and library disaster planning.

Collection Areas

The William R. Oliver Special Collections Room collects material in the following areas:

  • Incunabula
  • Books printed prior to 1870
  • Books printed in the Americas prior to 1870
  • Americana, travel and exploration, Native American lore
  • Books about or printed/published in Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania prior to 1900
  • Printed editions of 300 copies or less
  • Autograph copies
  • Fine printing and binding
  • Extra-illustrated and grangered books
  • Books with hand-colored illustrations
  • Miniature books
  • Small or Private quality presses

Access & Use of the Collection

  • The Oliver Room is open to the public Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Although it is not necessary, patrons are encouraged to call the archivist at (412) 622-1932 to make an appointment to view materials.
  • Special care must be taken when handling materials from this department.
  • Note taking must be done in pencil.
  • Photocopying of materials is absolutely prohibited. Arrangements can be made to photograph certain items.
  • Because of the fragile nature of many of the rare books and archival materials, the archivist may determine a particular item cannot be viewed or handled. This is not meant to prevent access but to preserve the item in question. The Oliver Room houses many items that are unique and excessive handling could damage them completely.