In addition to its research library featuring major materials on art, art history, general history, and genealogy, ranging from 19th century publications up to the most recently released contemporary scholarship on art works in the museum, the Norton has an expanding collection of Rare and Antiquarian Books. A broad swath of the history of the printed word and images in the West is represented, from a 14th-century Book of Hours to the 20th century Edward Curtis photographic and anthropological masterwork, The North American Indians.
While the pride of the collection is the John James Audubon double elephant folio of The Birds of America, it also features other great naturalist works such as complete set of John Gould's masterpieces of ornithology, including The Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands, including many new species recently discovered in Australia and two copies of Mark Catesby's great hand-colored 18th century American naturalist masterpiece, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands. The Norton's rare books also include famous Renaissance atlases like the Ptolery Geographia of 1490, the Ortellius Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World) from 1571, and nine of the great Blaeu atlases, the Geographia Blaviana produced from 1648-1665. More recent works include a limited edition Alice in Wonderland with original lithographs by Salvador Dali and the recently released Processus Contra Templarios (The Trial of the Templars), published in a limited edition by the Vatican Archives.
One portion of this section is devoted to the James M. Owens Book Collection, a remarkable selection of early Americana, which includes such significant historical works as a 1787 copy of Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia and the 1808 Reports of the Trials of Col. Aaron Burr, for Treason, and for a Misdemeanor, in Preparing the Means of a Military Expedition against Mexico, a territory of the King of Spain, with whom the United States were at peace, among many others. Dr. Owens was at one time the rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Shreveport and amassed not only a considerable collection of early American books and genealogical information, but also a number of books on religious ideas and practices in the early American republic.