About the Classics Library


The John Miller Burnam Classics Library at the University of Cincinnati possesses one of the world's largest (almost 300,000 volumes) and most distinguished collections of Classical Studies with particular strengths in Greek and Latin philology, Aegean Bronze Age archaeology, and Latin palaeography. It is unique in housing under one roof the full spectrum of subdisciplines within the broad definition of Classics -- language and literature, art and archaeology, history, philosophy, religion, law, science, medicine in addition to Modern Greek studies, papyrology, epigraphy, and palaeography, and more, spanning five millennia of recorded history and the vast geographic areas of Ancient Greece, including Asia Minor and the Black Sea region, and Magna Graecia, pre-Roman Italy, including the Etruscan civilization, and the full expanses of the Roman Empire, including Eastern Rome (Byzantium) in addition to sizeable collections covering the Near East and Ancient Egypt.

medieval manuscript of a prayer book

Original medieval manuscript of a missal in the Rare Book & Manuscript Room. Italy, 15th c.

Public Service

The Classics Library:

  • has the highest circulation of all UC college and departmental libraries.
  • assists more than 75,000 visitors annually.
  • administers the most OhioLINK and Interlibrary Loan requests of all UC college and departmental libraries.
  • displays in the Circulation area's Cubby Hole and informs the UC Classics community monthly of new acquisitions to help them keep up with the latest research.
  • administers an ongoing book sale to offer the community gift and duplicate books at greatly reduced prices and at the same time raise much needed funds for the Library's office supply budget. 
  • offers the community easy access to heavily consulted items such as dictionaries, atlases, monographic series and multivolume sets, including the CIL, IG, CVA, the Teubner and Budé texts, the OCT, the Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, and more, both in print and online.
  • has set aside a large room for UC graduate students in Classics and offices for Tytus fellows to which they can check out many "Library Use Only" items in addition to individual carrels to keep up to 80-100 items charged to "desks" and up to 500+ items charged to personal accounts. 
  • visiting scholars in town for a certain period in order to use the UC Classics Library are able to reserve shelf space with their names in the Visiting Scholar Alcove of the main Reading Room. The Classics faculty are also given the privilege of checking out Classics Library materials to their offices, including many "Library Use Only" items.
  • curates and organizes continuous exhibitions and author celebrations and other events to inform and educate about the Library's collections, both text and material, and about the area study of Classics and its many subdisciplines.  

Physical Space

The Library provides an inviting and welcoming physical space with its elegant yet cozy main Reading Room, Palaeography Reading Room, affectionally called the "Scriptorium," named after the room where medieval monastic scribes copied and illuminated manuscripts, and its impressive stack floors, affectionately called the "Catacombs" or "Hades" because of their underground cavelike yet imposing appearance.

two people at table with books

The Classics Library's main Reading Room.

Palaeography Room examining Lucretius

Classics graduate students Carina Moss and Simone Agrimonti and classics professors Kathryn Gutzwiller and Daniel Markovich discussing an ancient text in the Scriptorium.

German dissertation collection

One of the outstanding collections in the Classics Library's is its 18,000 German dissertations from the 17th to the early 20th century. Bibliographer Mike Braunlin is examining one of them in the Library's Stacks.

Book sale and New Books display

Daily book sale and monthly presentation of new books, journals, and journal issues in the Cubby Hole in the Circulation area. Some of the used books for sale can be found also at Duttenhofer's Books, but at two or three times the price charged by the Library. Not only is keeping up with the latest publications important to UC Classics scholars, but the service the Classics Library offers through its monthly display is vital for the work of the editors of Nestor, the international bibliography of Aegean Studies, hosted by the UC Classics Department.