McCracken Research Library
The McCracken Research Library supports inquiry across many disciplines related to the American West.
With extensive collections of rare books, historic photographs, and original manuscripts, the library offers scholars direct contact with the materials of history. Through proper storage and the monitored use of archives, librarians safeguard the treasures entrusted to their care while making those resources available.
Please note: In light of health and safety concerns due to COVID-19, the McCracken Research Library has implemented the following procedures for in-person research appointments:
- Researchers are required to wear masks or a visor (provided) in the library reading room.
- Hand-sanitizer is provided upon registration.
- Social distancing between staff and researchers is maintained.
As Dr. Robert Martin, library adviser and former director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, has stated, “It’s all about learning.” We create, in his words “the synergies that facilitate learning.”
CLICK HERE for answers to frequently asked questions about the Library.
CLICK HERE to discover Ten Things You Should Know about the Library.
“The McCracken Research Library advances the understanding, appreciation, and study of the American West and plays an integral role in the creation and dissemination of scholarship on the region.” —Adopted by the McCracken Research Library Advisory Board, September 21, 2006
The McCracken staff collaborates with curators, scholars, students, writers, and filmmakers to reveal the American West in all its human and natural complexity. The last word on the West defines the mission—to preserve the written and visual record. As the stewards of many forms of expression, our library professionals understand how language and images have shaped perceptions. What Americans believe about the West is as significant as what actually happened in these storied landscapes.
“The Western history popular culture collection at the McCracken is unmatched anywhere in the world.” —Dr. Paul Hutton, University of New Mexico
From its beginnings as a reading room in a log building, the library has grown substantially. Holdings include 36,000 books, more than 500 numbered manuscript collections, and one million photographic images. Behind the scenes, large vaults store archives and photographs in a controlled climate. In the reading room, rare books recount the experiences of early travelers with illustrations that often convey an imaginary version of the West.
- Find out more detail about the library’s archival collection by accessing our online Finding Guides.
- Browse the digital photograph collection at library.centerofthewest.org
- Search the book collection at wyld.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/bbhc/
The library has embarked on a digital program, contributing more than 80,000 image files to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s website. Online visitors can search a suite of photographic collections and digital documents, conduct research, and submit orders for reproductions.
“The best work I’ve seen.” —Bud Lake, specialist, photography of the Crow Indians, on the Great Plains People collection.