Libraries house rare, unique, or valuable items in special collections. Materials can include rare books and documents, photographs, maps, and more. Often, libraries will collect items on certain topics, such as railroad history or women's studies. Special collections and archives are excellent places to search for primary source material.
SMU has several special collections and archives on campus. Many materials are available for viewing in the archive's reading room. Some of SMU's archival documents are digitized (see Digital Collections) and can be used online.
The principal repository at SMU for special collections in the humanities, the history of business, and the history of science and technology. Its rare books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and other materials are available to all SMU students, faculty, visiting scholars, and other researchers.
Part of Hamon Arts Library, Bywaters houses performing arts and visual arts collections. Researchers wishing to visit Bywaters Special Collections are requested to make appointments in advance, explain their projects, and define their specific areas of interest so that the required materials can be assembled and the appropriate curator made available.
Bridwell Library Special Collections and Archives' strengths and current collecting interests focus on incunabula, Bibles, Reformation and Counter-Reformation, devotional literature, church history, theology, popular devotion and popular piety, Wesleyana and Methodistica, and archival documents. Other resources cover topics including archaeology, literature, philosophy, politics, and the book arts (fine press imprints, artists’ books, livres d’artiste, and miniature books).