Bruce Peel Special Collections Library digital initiatives

Lower level, Rutherford Library
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada, T6G 2J4
Phone: (780) 492-5998
phone consultation available Monday to Friday 12:00pm to 4:30pm
Ordering Library Publications

About the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library

Bruce Braden Peel (1916–1998) was Chief Librarian of the University of Alberta from 1955 to 1982. The publication of his Bibliography of the Prairie Provinces in 1956 was a landmark achievement that documents the early settlement and publishing history of western Canada, and it continues to grow today as an online database called Peel's Prairie Provinces. The eponymous Bruce Peel Special Collections Library is located in handsome quarters in the lower level of Rutherford South. Among its 100,000+ volumes are many treasures, including beautiful, rare and unusual books.

Materials are housed in a climate-controlled, secure environment because of their rarity or because of their importance as a special collection. Special Collections is a closed stack library. Visitors are always welcome, and the Library features an attractive exhibition program with exceptional opportunities for learning and discovery. The collections support many research interests. While some collections are tightly focused upon a single author (e.g., John Bunyan, Charles Dickens and D.H. Lawrence) or a private press and its output (e.g., Hogarth, Golden Cockerel and Grabhorn), others are more wide-ranging, giving shape to abstract ideas, such as the collection of artists' books and bookworks, now regarded as the preeminent collection in Canada.

Researchers who investigate the history of the book and material culture will be especially well served by medieval manuscript facsimiles, incunabula and early printed books from such well-known printers as Aldus Manutius and Christopher Plantin. Another cornerstone of the Bruce Peel Library holdings is the Gregory Javitch Collection of more than 2,300 volumes on North and South American aboriginals, offering perspectives on the legends, ceremonial dances, music, and daily lives of aboriginal peoples. Other major strengths include the Alberta Folklore and Local History Collection, books focused on the art of William Blake, the Dr Ronald B. Madge Entomology Collection, and the archive of Canada's most famous Mountie, Sir Samuel Benfield Steele, which is a Canadian national treasure of the highest order.


Access to the collection is via The NEOS Libraries' Catalogue of the University of Alberta. The exceptions are theses earlier than 1985, which can only be accessed through the card catalogue in Special Collections, and the manuscript collection. Please ask for assistance when searching for these materials. Material from the collection does not circulate.

The resources of the collection are available to all students, staff, and the general public upon presentations of acceptable identification.

Special Instructions Regarding Use of the Collections

  • All bags, briefcases, backpacks, etc. must be deposited at the reception desk before entering the reading room.
  • Many of the materials are fragile. Please handle with care.
  • Use only pencils, no ink of any kind.
  • Keep all material flat on the table or well supported. Do not hold material on your lap.
  • Do not trace on any material, or use it as a pad for your paper.
  • If you need to leave the reading room for more than 15 minutes, please return materials to the reception desk.
  • If you plan to use the same material again in the same week, tell reception desk staff when you leave, so the materials can be held for you.


Material may be photocopied only by a staff member, and only if the material will not be damaged in the process. In general only selections from books may be copied, not entire books. The cost is $0.25 per page. Payments must be made in cash.

Reproduction Policies and Pricing

Requests for reproduction will be considered on a case by case basis. Please contact us directly to obtain publication rights and detailed costs for image reproduction. In certain cases reproduction will not be possible because of copyright, donor restrictions, or physical condition. All requests for reproduction and rights should include the author and title of the book/article being published, the name of the publisher, date of publication, and pertinent details about the distribution (e.g. print runs). The usage fees will be scaled to the size of the publication. If permission is granted to reproduce materials, we request that you cite the source in the form: Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, University of Alberta.


Robert Desmarais
Head Special Collections Librarian
780.492.7929 phone
780.492.5083 fax

Linda Quirk
Assistant Special Collections Librarian
780.492.7928 phone
780.492.5083 fax

Lynn McPherson
780.492.5151 phone
780.492.5083 fax

Jeff Papineau
Library Assistant
780.492.7311 phone
780.492.5083 fax

Carol Irwin
Library Assistant
780.492.7311 phone
780.492.5083 fax

Carolyn Morgan
780.492.1902 phone
780.492.5083 fax

Alicia Odeen
Library Assistant
780.248.1302 phone
780.492.5083 fax