Rare contains roughly 7,900 books, including 3-D artists' books. The rare collection was built mostly via donations from alumni/alumnae, faculty/staff and patrons. The collection contains two incunabula (item produced before the 16th century). Additionally, approximately 500 books from the collection were published before 1800.
The majority of the "rare" collection consists of literature, especially late 19th and early 20th century. The top 6 most represented authors within the collection are: William Dean Howells, Sherwood Anderson, Christopher Morely, Louis Bromfield, Jan Wahl, D.H. Lawrence and Mark Twain. In addition to its strengths in literature and poetry, rare also contains many books on politics and religion.
Additional authors represented within the "rare" collection include, Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, J.M. Barrie, Lord Byron, Willa Cather, Julie Chen, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Theodore Dreiser, Paul Laurence Dunbar, T.S. Eliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Faulkner, Robert Frost, Galileo, H.D., Nathaniel Hawthorne, Aldous Huxley, Henry James, Christine Kermaire, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vince Koloski, Sinclair Lewis, W. Somerset Maugham, Iris Murdoch, Beatrix Potter, Ezra Pound, James Purdy, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, Philip Roth, Carl Sandburg, Sigfried Sassoon, William Shakespeare, Robbin Ami Silverberg, Adam Smith, John Steinbeck, Booth Tarkington, Alfred Tennyson, Henry David Thoreau, Diane Wakoski, H.G. Wells, Edith Wharton, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, William Carlos Williams, and W.B. Yeats, among others.