Lafayette's rare book holdings of some 15,000 volumes include incunabula—among them the magnificent Nuremburg Chronicle of 1493—and other early imprints reflecting the development of printing during the hand-press period (ca. 1450-1800). The collection also includes important works from the last two centuries—first editions of Charles Dickens, productions from William Morris's Kelmscott Press, the photogravures of Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian, and modern literary first editions of E.L. Doctorow, John Dos Passos, Joseph Heller, Michael Ondaatje, and Robert Stone. The rare books are searchable by author, title, subject, and keyword in the library's catalog.
The library's angling collections include the three named collections—the Tinsman, Conahay, and Fox Collections—as well as recently acquired holdings. Areas of emphasis include British and American angling classics, fine bindings, angling literature, women in angling, and fish-themed artists' books.
Skillman Library actively collects contemporary artists' books—books that reflect the creative vision of individual artists. Holdings include works by prominent book artists and private presses. Represented in the collection are a wide range of physical formats from flip books to book sculptures.
The nucleus of the collection is the gift from the Jane W. Conneen Estate in 2008, containing over 400 volumes of miniature books. The collection includes mostly works from 20th century American miniature book presses, including Conneen’s Little Farm Press imprint.
Stephen Crane spent one semester at Lafayette College in the fall of 1890. In the early 1950s a collection was established, made up of first and variant editions of Crane's book works, first appearances of his stories in the original periodicals, printed ephemera, and secondary literature about Crane.
Marquis de Lafayette
Skillman Library maintains a growing collection of published works about the man for whom the College is named. Particular strengths include biographical sources, children’s literature, 18th century imprints concerning Lafayette in the French Revolution, works documenting Lafayette’s 1824-25 "Farewell Tour" of America, and works on Franco-American friendship, particularly the assistance rendered by France to America during the American Revolution and America to France in World War I.
Slavery and Abolition
A new collecting area for Skillman, this collection concentrates on the period from the late 18th century to 1850 and includes a variety of texts—abolitionist poetry, anti-slavery periodicals, colonization-related publications, and artists’ books and broadsides that provide contemporary reflections on slavery, as well on issues of race and civil rights.