Mann Library's Special Collections hold materials that are too rare, valuable or fragile to be housed in the regular stacks. They consist of more than 14,000 volumes, many of which contain hand-colored illustrations, engravings and lithographs. Many volumes housed within Mann Special Collections originated from the personal libraries of great Cornell figures such as Liberty Hyde Bailey, Anna and John Henry Comstock, and Martha van Rensselaer. In several cases these bequests have become the basis of specialized collections of particular importance: The Phillips Beekeeping Collection, the Rice Poultry Collection, and the Language of Flowers Collection.
Other strong collections are available in lace, New York State agriculture, natural history and home economics, botany, evolution, genetics, ecology, agricultural economics, general agriculture and home economics, general natural history, fly fishing, textiles and costume history.