Special Collections includes a large, general collection of rare books, and several unique collections named after their donors. The collections concern a range of subjects and include a variety of genre of materials, such as: medieval manuscripts, early printed books, fine press imprints, modern first editions, pulp fiction, pulp magazines, children's books, and zines.
Significant collections have been acquired over many decades and include:
- Hallett Cole Zeppelin Collection and Lighter-Than-Air Library - collection includes books, pamphlets, artifacts, and ephemera related to lighter-than-air craft.
- George Alan Connor Esperanto Collection - collection includes more than 3,500 books, periodicals, and pamphlets written in or about the artificial language of Esperanto.
- English Literature - collection of English Fiction and English Novels and English Historical Novels.
- Ernest W. Haycox Western Literature Collection - collection comprises the research library of Western writer Ernest W. Haycox and includes over 2,000 books and periodicals on the West, many of which are rare or scarce.
- Pauline Potter Homer Collection of Beautiful Books - collection comprises approximately 1,000 volumes, including fine press imprints, fine bindings, illustrations, books about books, children's books, and books about ships.
- Robert Frederick Lane Collection of Bodoni Imprints – a comprehensive collection by and about Giambattista Bodoni imprints and other books. Researchers should also refer to Lane's personal papers.
- Miniatures collection – a collection of circa 125 books less than five inches tall.
- Gertrude Bass Warner Asian Collection - Collection comprises 575 volumes on Asian art collected by Gertrude Bass Warner to support the Asian art collections of the University of Oregon Art Museum.
- Bishop William A. Quayle Book Collection - collection comprises 500 titles illustrating the history of printing and the printed book, and includes early imprints, fine press imprints, fine bindings, and literary first editions.
- Mysteries, Westerns, and Science Fiction - Collection includes over 4,000 paperback mysteries, westerns, and science fiction.
- Pulps - Comics - Zines -- Collection includes popular magazines, comic books from the 1930s to the 1960s, and self-published literary, artistic, and political magazines from the 1960s to the present.
- Lucille Ogle Collection of Children's Literature - Includes over 4,400 titles of children's literature published from the 1930's to the 1960s.
- James J. Kopp Utopian Collection - Includes over 980 titles related to Utopian theory, philosophy and communities in the United States and elsewhere.
- Artists Books - Artists' books are works of art that utilize the form of the book. They are often published in small editions, though they are sometimes produced as one-of-a-kind objects. Special Collections has over 400 titles in its holdings.