Special collections include various collections of documents mostly printed. There are a dozens of old manuscripts, thousands of old and rare printed books, a collection of artists' books, a collection of facsimiles, a collection of pamphlets and some bibliophiles collections. The special collections of the Library of the University of Ottawa have been formed over time by donations, purchases and transfers from the general collection.
The Manuscript Collection includes dozens of manuscripts including two books of hours from the late 15th century.
The Rare book collection includes about 14,000 printed books from the 15th to the 20th century. The oldest are called incunabula. These books published between the invention of printing in 1455 and the end of 1501. The Archives and Special Collections contains 5 incunabula some of which are extremely rare. The collection also includes nearly 60 post-incunabula which consist of books published between 1501 and the end of the 1550s. Comprising thousands of books about different subjects such as medicine, law, literature, philosophy, natural science, geography and travels, sciences, architecture, history and arts, the rare book collection includes books published in Europe and America as well as Canadiana. There are mostly monographs but it also contains early European and Canadian periodicals from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
If the definition of the artist book has evolved over time, objects that are part of the Artist Book Collection also have many faces. The artist's book is here defined first as a work of art designed by an artist. We also find several classic books illustrated by artists, illustrators and painters, who meet more the definition of the illustrated book. Finally, the collection also includes some art books, often published by private publishers.
The Facsimiles collection contains reproductions of manuscripts and printed material. Most of them reproduces rare or old manuscripts and printed books which are not or hardly accessible, but it also consists of reproduction of manuscripts of writers of the 19th and 20th centuries or reproduction of archival documents. Reproducing these works identically, facsimiles are particularly useful for research.
The Pamphlet Collection contains nearly 4000 printed documents. The oldest one is dated from 1774 and the most recent from the 1990s. By their smaller size and binding of lower quality, pamphlets often tend to disappear quickly from circulation. Several brochures included in the collection held by the Archives and Special Collections are very rare copies.
Bernard and Sylvia Ostry Collection
The Bernard and Sylvia Ostry Collection is one of the special collections received by donation within the last years by the Archives and Special Collections. It consists of the personal library of the well-known couple and reflects the multiple areas of interest of Bernard and Sylvia Ostry who were both influential in Canadian history. Sylvia Ostry, a renowned economist, trade negotiator and policy expert and Bernard Ostry, an influential senior civil servant in the area of culture and broadcasting, both had key positions within the federal government. A big part of the collection is dedicated to international studies and economy, but also to arts and history.