Rare Books Collections

A unique resource

What is the Collection?

Every library acquires some books and periodicals which need special care, because of age, value, condition or content. The University Library places such publications in the Rare Books Collection, which contains several thousand items, including early printed works, first editions, valuable illustrated and limited edition books and items of Australiana.

Among the early printed works are Foxe's Book of martyrs (1631–32) and Ornithology by Francis Willughby (1678).

Periodicals in the collection

The collection contains significant runs of general British 18th and 19th Century periodicals such as the Edinburgh magazine and literary miscellany (1754–1825), The Annual register of world events (1758–1849) and The Spectator (1757).


Among the Australiana material are John Oxley's journals of his two expeditions into the interior in 1817–18. This volume was a gift from Dr P A Wright, a former Chancellor of the University. Another interesting volume is Captain John Hunter's Historical journal of the transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island (1790). This book was presented to the Library in 1968 by the then Associate Librarian, Victor Crittenden. It was the 200,000th volume to be added to the University Library.

Another book of interest in the collection is the Atlas of the settled counties of NSW (1872), which has beautiful maps of NSW. Equally worthy of note is Lycett's Views in Australia (1825).

The Collection also has significant holdings of the Bibliotheca Australiana series.

Early voyages

While the collection covers all subject areas, it is particularly strong in natural history, and in the early atlases and voyages, including the Theatrum orbis terrarum series.

Accessing the Collection

Direct access to the Rare Book Collection is not possible.

For information on access to the Collection, see the Policy on Special Collections Access.