The University Library's Department of Special Collections makes available a wide array of rare and unique original source materials for study and research. Within the Archives & Manuscripts collections are the papers of Walter Ong, a founder in the field of literacy and orality studies.
The Rare Books collections contain thousands of volumes from the fifteenth century onward, with strong holdings in Catholic and Jesuit authors and subjects. The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library (VFL) holds thousands of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts on microfilm, mostly from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, but from other libraries as well. These collections contain, for instance, all the manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The VFL maintains an extensive reference collection to support the study of manuscripts and their texts, and also offers a research fellowship program and holds an annual conference on medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.