The Hargrett Library Rare Book unit contains approximately 120,000 rare books on a variety of subjects. Special emphasis is placed on rare books, maps, broadsides and other printed material dealing with the State of Georgia and the Southeast as the state developed from pre-Colonial times to the present. The Hargrett Library also specializes in the History of the Book including an extensive collection of over 10,000 books relating to the small press and fine printing particularly in the United States.
Confederate Imprints, books and other printed material printed in the Confederate States during the War of the Rebellion exclusive of occupation, are another subject area traditionally collected by the Hargrett Library. In addition, the Hargrett Library collects books on the performing arts especially books relevant to costume design.
Many of the books in the Hargrett Library were originally purchased for the use of the students of the first graduating class of 1804. Other major book collections acquired were the DeRenne Georgia Library, the Louis Moore Library, the E. Merton Coulter Library, and more recently the Library of George Horace Lorimer, editor of the Saturday Evening Post.
The James W. Woodruff, Sr. Center for Natural History in Georgia encompasses books, manuscripts, and other significant materials related to the natural history of the state.