Classics Library Collections

Banner collections documentary text, literary text, artefact
Ut conclave sine libris, ita corpus sine anima -- A room without books is like a body without a soul

attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106–43 BCE


The John Miller Burnam Classics Library at the University of Cincinnati possesses one of the world's largest (almost 300,000 print volumes and a few thousand ebooks and ejournals) 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, politics, 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, 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. 

Not only do the Library's extensive collections stimulate and facilitate discovery, study, and research, but they also generate connections and discussions among our permanent and itinerant world-renowned classical philologists, archaeologists, ancient historians, and others, which contribute to the productivity and creativity and knowledge of our students and faculty. Our goal is not only to satisfy the research needs of our current scholars but also to build collections that we believe will have lasting value to meet future needs. For this reason, our policy is not to weed the classics collections unless we have multiple copies of a book or if a book has become illegible because of poor physical condition in which case we attempt to replace it if possible. We do, however, always keep multiple editions that may differ from one another in some respect.  Another policy is to maintain all print volumes in the physical library proper and not have them stored in an outside facility for as long as possible as we acknowledge the considerable value in keeping classics materials together to facilitate browsing and speedy retrieval. 

Because of the uniqueness of the Library's collections, access and use have to be balanced with the need to preserve them for future scholarship. Many of the books have been acquired for more than a century and are in poor physical condition. Books must be handled with care. Please do not pull books by their spines or photocopy books by pressing down on them or making notes in them. Food and drink inside the Library are not allowed since spilled water and humidity can cause irreversible damage to paper and food can attract mice and insects who eat paper.

For security reasons, users of the Library's stacks floors are required to leave their UC or picture ID and their bags in lockers. Bags and IDs are retrieved when leaving the Library. Handbags and laptop bags must be shown to the library staff upon request. Please note that to safeguard the collections and for everyone's safety, there are cameras at various points throughout the Library (at the entrance, in the Circulation area, in the Reading Room, and the book stacks). To merely study in the Reading Room or the Circulation area or to print or to use the Library's workstations, users do not need to leave their IDs or bags in lockers. For additional information, see "Classics Library Access."