The Washington State Library is open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. M-F (closed state holidays) for research appointments and walk-in customers. Click for details here.

Rare Publications of the Washington State Library

The Rare Publications Collection offers a wide range of scarce and unique works on the history and culture of the Pacific Northwest. We have a large selection of history, fiction, and poetry titles from Northwest writers about the region, and artists' books that utilize the format of the book and the bookmaking process for creative expression in innovative or sculptural ways.

The collection contains information on the geographic area now known as Washington State as well as the Pacific Northwest. For purposes of acquisition, we define the Pacific Northwest as Washington, Oregon, and Idaho; with select areas of Alaska, Western Montana, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory. 

image of bound books

The collection displays a diverse subject coverage incorporating history, education, ethnic groups, geology, geography, environment, individuals, plants, animals, counties, cities, transportation, sports, and arts of the region. 

This coverage gravitates toward the popular, rather than the technical end of the subject spectrum. Time periods covered are from pre-written history through the territorial era into statehood and present day. The collection's special focus is on history, with an emphasis on the history of the Washington Territorial and State governments. We collect for readers of all age groups. 

Browse Rare Publications in the catalog

Guidelines for Use of the Collection

Governor Isaac Stevens' Territorial Library Collection

Collection Highlights


Collection Highlights


The complete Jacob Lawrence, by Peter T. Nesbett and Michelle DuBois.


A Catalogue Raisonné of the New York born artist, who relocated to Seatttle in 1971.  The result of six years of research by the Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonne Project, led by Peter T. Nesbett and Michelle DuBois, the books identify, authenticate, and document over 900 paintings, drawings, and murals created by Jacob Lawrence between 1935 and 1999-over half of them discovered by the project. Over the Line includes essays by eight distinguished art historians considering the ways in which Lawrence's art speaks so powerfully to different audiences and examining for the first time the breadth and depth of his output. (RARE OVERSIZ 759.13 NESBETT 2000. The Library [1960], shown above)