Mann Library Special Collections

special collections reading room at Mann LibrarySpecial Collections hold materials that are too rare, valuable or fragile to be housed in the regular stacks. Mann Library's Special Collections consist of more than 17,000 volumes, many of which contain hand-colored illustrations, engravings and lithographs.

At Mann Library, Special Collections house the Phillips Beekeeping Collection, an endowment named in honor of apiculturist and Cornell professor Dr. Everett Franklin Phillips (1878-1951). This collection supports the world's largest and most valuable collection of books and manuscripts on bees and beekeeping. 

All members of the community, both off and on campus, are welcome to visit our quiet and comfortable reading room. You do not need to be affiliated with Cornell to visit. Special Collections can be visited by appointment Monday Through Friday, 9am-4pm. If possible, we prefer 24 hours notice but will do our best to accommodate your schedule.

Once you have the call number of the book you would like to view, make an appointment to visit the Special Collections using the simple registration form. This form provides us with basic contact info to confirm your appointment or clarify your research needs.

For inquiries related to any of our special collections or to arrange a visit, please contact: Michael Cook

Michael Cook
Head of Collections
Mann Library at Cornell University


Making Collections Visible: Rare Russian Beekeeping

rare beekeeping books on a shelfMann Library’s Phillips Beekeeping collection houses over 1400 publications related to bees in Special Collections, including works of Lorenzo LangstrothJan Dzerzion, and Charles Dadant. The Russian-language materials comprise a small subset yielding a surprising amount of rich information related to beekeeping through almost two centuries of Russian History. This collection has been added to in the past year through the process of investigating our holdings, where we have determined works in the main stacks should be shifted to special collections for preservation, due to their rarity. However, much of this LibGuide was constructed remotely and the work of shifting physical collections is on pause while we are in quarantine. For this reason, some titles on this LibGuide are not yet physically located in special collections, but we have included them for their significance to the historical record. Additionally, for other reasons such as space limitations, some works will remain in their currently assigned locations. Again, we chose not to limit ourselves by location in order to provide a more informative, complete picture of the collection.

Meet The Translator: Anya Osatuke

Photo of AnyaWhile these works have been available to users for decades, they largely remained unknown and unused until now. Anya Osatuke, was a graduate student in Horticulture when she first started visiting special collections to view and translate Russian-language rare works for her own research. Over the course of several visits it became clear that Anya was able to bring in-depth context and analysis to the works she was translating. She was quick to point out connections between authors, scientific trends reflected in the writing and a range of historically significant observations. Anya has extensive knowledge of Russian history, culture and politics, through her family heritage as well as her B.A. Double Major in Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies. From Spring 2019 until Spring 2020, Anya has contributed immensely to the discoverability and access of the collection by improving the bibliographic record, as well as lending her expertise to provide context on the significance of these rare works. As a result of this collaboration between the library and Anya, we have achieved a great deal to make this collection visible and findable for researchers.