Mortimer Rare Book Room General Information

About The Rare Book Room

The Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College houses rare books and literary manuscripts. The collection includes works from all periods—cuneiform tablets to contemporary artists' books—in all subject areas, from ancient history to zoology. Located in Neilson Library, the Mortimer Rare Book Room is one of three departments in the libraries’ special collections, which also includes the Sophia Smith Collection and the College Archives.

Martin Antonetti and Karen Kukil

Martin Antonetti and Karen Kukil look
over a scrapbook of photographs

The current reading room in Neilson Library opened in 1962, although the rare book collection was formed in the 1940s by removing fifteenth- and sixteenth-century books from the general circulating stacks. Dorothy King was the first curator, followed by Ruth Mortimer (1975-1994), Michèle Cloonan (1995-1996), and Martin Antonetti (appointed in 1997). Just before Ruth Mortimer's death in 1994 the Rare Book Room was renamed in her honor.

Thanks to the generosity of alumnae and friends, the Mortimer Rare Book Room has grown to approximately 45,000 volumes and has expanded beyond its original role as protector of early printed artifacts. In 1973, a bequest established the first fund specifically designated for the purchase of rare books; other sources, notably the William Salloch Rare Book Fund, have enriched the endowment for purchases. The curators actively add to the collections both by purchase and by gift, and welcome inquiries about potential donations. Find out more about the collections here.

Regular Semester Hours

Hours vary during breaks, reading and examination periods, and the summer. For specific dates and times, see Libraries' Hours, or call the Mortimer Rare Book Room at (413) 585-2906. Normally when classes are in session, the Mortimer Rare Book Room is open Monday-Friday 9:00 am-12 noon and 1:00 pm-5:00 pm.


The Mortimer Rare Book Room is located on the 3rd floor North of Neilson Library in the center of the Smith College campus. See area and campus maps. In Neilson Library take the stairs or elevator located in the central core area up to the 3rd floor and head right (north).

Mortimer Rare Book Room Staff

Name Job Title Email Phone Number
Martin Antonetti Curator of Rare Books (413) 585-2907
Barbara Blumenthal Rare Book Specialist (413) 585-2906
Karen Kukil Associate Curator of Special Collections (413) 585-2908