The Research Library exists to advance scholarship in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through the comprehensive collection of materials in multiple media, published and unpublished; description and arrangement of those materials and presence of informed staff to ensure efficient access; exhibition of collections; and preservation of knowledge in these disciplines whether in print or digital formats for use by future generations.
The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library collects materials to support scholarship in Byzantine studies, Pre-Columbian studies, and garden and landscape studies. It comprises three formerly independent collections. In 1999, the collections came together administratively to form the Research Library as it exists today.
The general library collections contain more than 210,000 items in a variety of formats. All materials are non-circulating.
The Rare Book Collection contains more than 10,000 volumes, prints, drawings, photographs, and blueprints.
Use of the collections requires prior authorization as a reader. Due to space limitations, the Rare Book Collection requires appointments to be made in advance of every use.