Berea's Rare Book Collection consists of over 12,000 valuable books dating from the earliest period of printing in the 15th century to important first editions and beautifully illustrated books of the 20th century. Most of the important rare books have been gifts from friends of the College.
The collection is distinguished for its centuries-old Bible, its first editions in English and American Literature, ballad books, hymnals, and 19th century works on the anti-slavery movement and Black history. The rare books, used in library displays and in teaching, provide a great depth and richness to the holdings of Hutchins Library.
Berea's rare books are a great resource for a college with a strong liberal arts program. As a part of the record of civilization, they delight and instruct in various ways. There is no substitute, for example, for turning the pages of the first edition of the King James Bible (1611), or holding in one's hand a Shakespeare folio. Rare books stimulate the imagination and foster an appreciation for the great tradition of the written word.
The library does not engage in an active collecting program for the rare book collection, either through gift solicitation or purchase.