Reed Rare Books

One of the Dunedin Public Library’s major donors was founder of Reed Publishing, educationalist, author, long-distance walker and national folk icon Alfred Hamish Reed (1875 – 1975).

Since 1907 Reed had collected books, autographs and medieval manuscripts. He primarily focused on editions of the Bible and the works of Charles Dickens, but also collected works by and about Samuel Johnson and material relating to the history of printing.

In 1948 Reed gifted his collection to the Dunedin Public Libraries and remained active in acquisitions until shortly before his death, his efforts helping to build a rare book collection of national importance.

The Reed Collection numbers ca. 10,000 items and includes more than just books. Letters, microfilms, records, pictures, glass transparencies, document drafts and items of memorabilia are also held.

There are approximately 400 pre-1801 imprints of which seven are incunabula (books printed before 1501). Eleven manuscript volumes and over 60 manuscript leaves and fragments date from as far back as the tenth century.

Many of the items in these collections are restricted. Please contact the Rare Books Librarian with any specific inquiries at