The Robbins Collection ranks among the very best research libraries in the world in the fields of religious and civil law. Our holdings support the development of research activities, and we acquire books, manuscripts, incunables, microfilms, and periodicals on an ongoing basis. Providing a working library for scholarly legal research with a range of materials, the likes of which might have existed in law libraries in the thirteenth through nineteenth centuries, is our primary goal.
As evidenced by the diversity of its holdings, the Collection is engaged in many areas of scholarly inquiry that reflect the most significant aspects of past and present legal cultures. The Robbins Collection holds over 340,000 titles distributed into several categories: civil law, religious law encompassing the canon law of the Roman and Greek churches and the Church of England, Jewish and Islamic law and secular law. Also among these titles are extensive collections in comparative law, jurisprudence, and legal history in general with an emphasis on continental Europe. Included are over 275 manuscripts, the majority of which are medieval, over 200 incunables, and another 2,300 titles which were printed before 1600. Holdings also include more than 100 single-folio manuscript legal documents from France, England, and the Papal Court, and 544 Catalan consilia printed between 1620 and 1756.
The Robbins Collection has also been fortunate to acquire significant portions of libraries of other scholars or institutions, such as the library of the Royal Faculty of Procurators of Glasgow, Scotland.
In addition to print materials, visitors to our facility may view microfilms and microfiche of manuscripts numbering in the thousands, including all the medieval canon and Roman law manuscripts in the Vatican Library.
The Robbins Collection Reading Room, located in the North Addition of Boalt Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, is equipped with tables, modern microfilm and microfiche readers, printers, and networked computer workstations. Scholars may use reading room computers to access database collections such as In Principio; incipit index of Latin texts from the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (CNRS) and the electronic Monumenta Germaniae Historica, as well as numerous digital databases. One database to which the Robbins Collection has contributed digital images from our medieval manuscript holdings is the Digital Scriptorium, a collaborative effort of several institutions to offer a database of manuscript images for scholarly research and teaching.