The library's rare book collection includes those printed materials which for reasons of rarity, value, age, content, or special physical characteristics require special handling. The rare book collection, totaling over 12,000 volumes, includes several thousand titles of Midwestern contemporary poetry, private presses and little magazines. Notable here are good collections of such presses as the Perishable Press, Ltd., Meadow Press, Penumbra Press, Bieler Press, Prairie Press, and others. We also hold papers for Margins magazine, poet John Judson, and several other Wisconsin and regional writers.
The rare books collection includes several hundred titles related to inland river steamboating and river history, with special emphasis on the Mississippi River. There are 1000 volumes of early science fiction, horror and fantasy novels and anthologies, called the Skeeters collection. Of special interest are the publications of Arkham House, including the early works of H. P. Lovecraft. The Rare Book include fine press publications from the Midwest and small press and little magazine publications from across the United States, with a strong concentration on poetry and literary offerings, from the 1950s to the present. Also included are a Underground Newspaper collection on microfilm.