Rare books libraries and reference materials for working with rare books are full of specialist terms (or terms that mean something different in the context of special collections). To make it easier for you to use our materials, we have prepared a glossary of terms you may encounter.

Wherever possible, definitions have been illustrated with images of material from our collections.

Other Glossaries

Other useful glossaries can be found online here:

The British Library. Online Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts — Glossaries. https://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/glossary.asp.

Carter, John, and Nicolas Barker. ABC for Book Collectors, 8th edition. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2010. https://ilab.org/article/john-carter-abc-for-book-collectors.

Roberts, Matt T. and Don Etherington. Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology. https://cool.culturalheritage.org/don/don.html.

Society of American Archivists. Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology. https://www2.archivists.org/glossary.

University of Alabama, University Libraries. Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: Glossary. https://bindings.lib.ua.edu/glossary1.html.