The Elling Eide Research Library houses more than 300 rare, out-of-print books as well as manuscripts, maps, and prints. The rare books collection includes 50 volumes of rare Chinese-language books published before 1911 (the earliest dating to 1515), but the majority of the collection was published in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The rare book collection is in four main languages: Chinese, Japanese, English, and Spanish.

The collection also houses 23 sets of Chinese rubbings, most of which are from albums of calligraphy from the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries. Other notable items include a handwritten manuscript by acclaimed Japanese author Yukio Mishima 三島由紀夫 (1925-1970), a Heian period fragment of a Japanese Buddhist text, and local histories of Sarasota and Sarasota Native Americans.