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Department of Library Special Collections

About the Department

Library Special Collections acquires and preserves materials primarily related to Kentucky and Kentuckians, with the objective of making them available to researchers interested in the state, its people and their relationship to the world. Visit us to learn about the Civil War, World War II, Kentucky authors, Mammoth Cave, Western Kentucky University, genealogy, folklore, Kentucky Shakers, politics and much more!  

The Department of Library Special Collections consists of three units:

 Kentucky Library Research Collections Manuscripts & Folklife Archives  WKU Archives
Kentucky Library
Research Collections 
Manuscripts & Folklife
WKU Archives

Kentucky Building Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.*
Harrison-Baird Reading Room Special Closings
Western Kentucky University Phone: 270-745-5083
Bowling Green, KY Contact Us / Visit


History of the Department of Library Special Collections

The Department of Library Special Collections began in the late 1920s with the campaign to construct a "Kentucky Building" on WKU's campus. Dedicated on November 16, 1939, this Georgian Revival structure serves primarily as a repository for books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, audio, video, and other material documenting the history, politics, culture, literature, daily life and folkways of the Commonwealth.  Following a three-year construction and renovation project that more than doubled its size, the Kentucky Building was rededicated on July 4, 1980.  Since then, its collections have continued to grow, both in volume and stature, to cover not just Kentucky but the world.

Contact Us

*All researchers are encouraged to consult with staff prior to their visit in order to maximize research time. Bibliographic instruction and evening or weekend class sessions may be scheduled by contacting

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 Last Modified 1/2/17