Missing “Game of Thrones” and its pomp and glory? Try out the Rossell Hope Robbins Library in Rush Rhees.

On the fourth floor of the building, the library boasts one of the  largest repositories of medieval literature in North America, encompassing Medieval literature all works written in Europe from the fifth to 15th centuries. Popular culture loves the medieval era: Think “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings,” Narnia.

Robbins Library  holds manuscripts, books written about medieval literature, and popular books based on that period too.

This library was first established in the 1980s by bringing the entire collection of Rossell Hope Robbins from Saugerties, NY.  “He was a bibliophile particularly of English holdings of the 14th century […] to the 15th century,” said Russell Peck, a professor in the Department of English. .

Robbins wanted to donate his collection to the University only if it agreed to keep all his books together.  “What sets it apart from the great medieval libraries of the world is that it not focused on manuscripts but on published literature and includes critical essays and books,” Peck said.

The library has variety of books on Joan of Arc, Beowulf, Cinderella, King Arthur, Robin Hood, Old English, and even  witchcraft. The oldest manuscript in the library is from the 15th century. Books from the Middle Ages were mostly written for children. Cinderella, Robin Hood, and King Arthur were mostly characters for teens.

Over 20 years ago, Robbins Library and Alan Lupack, another English professor, started the Camelot Project, a website which showcases complete bibliography and texts on King Arthur. This helps scholars and students from all over the world to access rare manuscripts in the click of the mouse.

“It was kind of a pioneer in terms of the humanities subject having a […] digital format,” Professor Thomas Hahn said.

These projects extends now to Cinderella, Beowulf, and Chaucer, so that students and scholars not only from the University but also from around the globe get a chance to visit the rich collection of Robbins Library.


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