Dumbarton Oaks Research Library is a non-circulating collection specifically designed to support scholarship in three areas of study: Byzantine studies, garden and landscape studies, and Pre-Columbian studies. The Byzantine component of the library collection began in 1936 when Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss set up their personal book collection as a reference collection to support research in Byzantine and medieval studies. In 1940, the Bliss family entrusted the property and collections at Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University for the establishment of a Center for Byzantine Studies. During the 1960s, programs and libraries in Pre-Columbian studies and garden and landscape studies were added to Dumbarton Oaks. The library collections came together administratively in 1999 and moved into a newly constructed, state-of-the-art facility in 2005 to form the Research Library as it exists today. The combined Library holds more than 200,000 volumes, of which more than 149,000 are in support of Byzantine studies. It also includes extensive Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives as well as collections of microfilms, microfiches, maps, and offprint files.
The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library strives to maintain a comprehensive collection of scholarly publications concerned with all aspects of Byzantine studies, including history, philology, textual studies, paleography, art and architectural history, archaeology, topography, numismatics, epigraphy, sigillography, theology, and philosophy. The Library acquires selectively monographs and journals that concern Greco-Roman antiquity before the era of Constantine the Great, contemporary western medieval and Islamic cultures, and cultures after the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453.
Last revised October 5, 2011.
The Library is primarily used by staff and residential Fellows, but outside scholars who need access to the Library for advanced research may apply to be a Weekday Reader or a Reader. Information about Readerships is available on the Dumbarton Oaks library website
Due to space limitations, use of the Rare Book Collection and Image Collections & Fieldwork Archives require appointments to be made in advance.