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The Associates of the James Ford Bell Library is an independent, all-volunteer charity that supports and promotes the programs, collections, and public outreach of the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota.

We help to sponsor exhibits, lectures, publications, fellowships, and public outreach programs. We help to build collaborations throughout the community. We offer events and activities only available to members, and we provide support for public events.  

The Library’s collections, focused on trade and cross-cultural interaction before ca. 1800, are recognized around the world as unique and important intellectual resources. The collections include rare books, maps and manuscripts that illuminate the history of global exploration and trade – a contemporary and relevant focus both culturally and economically.

The Associates are on a quest to find, welcome, and engage new members in support of the James Ford Bell Library.

We invite you to join us as we launch our first major membership campaign and prepare to celebrate fifty years of service to this remarkable international resource. 

Please sign up to receive updates and special invitations at the link to the right.

Click “Donate Now” to join.



  • April 13, 2016, 7:00PM - Book Lecture, The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps by Michael Blanding, replaces this year’s Spring Seminar. Sponsored by the Associates of the James Ford Bell Library.
  • May 26, 2016 – Patron Lunch, benefit for members at the Voyager level and above.
  • October 4, 2016, 7:00PM - Carl Sheppard Memorial Lecture in Medieval Art History, Professor Elizabeth Ross, co-sponsored by the James Ford Bell Library.
  • October 20, 2016 – 53rd Annual James Ford Bell Lecture.
  • December 2016 - James Ford Bell Library Annual Holiday Open House.