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Book Collections

Special Collections and Archives’ book collections span the 16th through 21st centuries and represent the history of bookmaking, contemporary book arts, Basque history and culture, Idaho history, Idaho authors, faculty publications, dime novels, the de Groot and Bittner collections about Ernest Hemingway, and hard-to-find publications on contemporary issues such as wolf reintroduction and ethanol production.


The Library actively collects books by Idaho authors, including fiction, westerns, science-fiction, literature, poetry, auto/biography, history, the environment, and numerous other topics. Notable authors include Vardis Fisher, Glenn Balch, Clare Jaynes. Idaho publishers include Caxton Press and Ahsahta Press.

See Also: Idaho Authors Collection


The Idaho History collection contains histories, biographies, reference books, government reports, sound recordings, films, and other works about the people, culture, politics, geography, environment, and economics of Idaho. The collection is strong on state and local histories as well as state and federal documents. Included is a collection of Western books donated by Robert Gale of authors such as Matt Braun, Ernest Haycox, Clay Fisher, Zane Grey, Will Henry, Louis L’Amour and Luke Short.


The McCain Collection was established in 1993 to augment Albertsons Library’s holdings on the Western United States. The collection was made possible through a generous endowment by Warren E. and Bernie McCain, supplemented by an additional one million dollar challenge grant, which was successfully matched by the contributions of hundreds of individual donors, including many on the library staff. The McCain Collection for Western Life contains books, journals, microforms, and other media, documenting the Western United States, especially its history, literature, anthropology, geography, politics, economics, and cultural life. Emphasis is placed on the West beyond the 100th meridian. Materials related to the frontier experience across the United States, as well as information on Native American tribes in all parts of the country, is also included. Warren McCain grew up in Payette, Idaho, went to work for the Albertsons, Inc., in 1959, and served as the firm’s chief executive officer from 1976 until 1991. Much of the McCain Collection is housed in the McCain Room on the second floor, though material purchased with McCain endowment funds can be found in all departments of the library. A distinctive bookplate identifies materials that are purchased with the McCain endowment.


Special Collections actively collections books published by Boise State University faculty, staff, and departments. Recent acquisitions include books by Jill Gill and Todd Shallot


In 2008, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center in conjunction with the University of Idaho, donated more than 3,000 books about local and international Basque culture, people, and history. Books are in English, Spanish, French, and Euskera, the Basque language. The library actively collects books to support the Basque Studies program and interest in regional history.


In 1988, playwright John de Groot donated 130 books that include biographies about Hemingway and books written by his wives and friends, some signed by the authors.

In 2008, the widow of John Robert Bittner, a noted Hemingway scholar, donated 300 research books on Hemingway’s life and writings, supplemented by works on the expatriate life of 1920s Paris, Spanish bullfighters of Hemingway’s era, Hemingway’s editor Maxwell Perkins, and other Hemingway literary associates.

See also:
John de Groot Papers and Collection on Ernest Hemingway’s FBI Files
Dorys Crow Grover Papers and Collections on Vardis Fisher and Ernest Hemingway
Ed Metzger Papers
Clara Spiegel Papers


The oldest book in Special Collections and Archives is an edition of Historia Scholastica, printed in Cologne, Germany in 1479, soon after the invention of the printing press. Once owned by the British bibliographer William Blades, this copy of Historia Scholastica contains handwritten marginalia recorded in Latin centuries ago by a long-forgotten scholar.

Other rare books include 17th and 18th century books about English history donated by Robert Fahringer, and others about United States history, religion, and Idaho history.