Due to major building activity some of our collections are temporarily unavailable. This means that some requests for deliveries of Library material to the Reading Rooms will not be fulfilled. Please check the catalogue carefully to find out if your selection is impacted. Learn more

The National Library of Australia's special collections include rare books and journals, pictures, photographs, maps, sheet music, oral history recordings, manuscript papers, ephemera and Asian collections. There is important information you need to know when accessing our special collections.


When submitting a request for material, please provide as much information as possible for example, box, series, folder number, issue / sheet number or date range. This information can be found in the item's catalogue record or use a guide or index that is available in the Special Collections Reading Room.

In some cases, special collection material may require advance notice of use due to special storage or it may need to be treated or processed before use. Special permissions are often required for rare or unique material in the Library's collections. See the Access conditions and Collect from statements on each catalogue record for information about access conditions and contact us for advice on using this material.


Special collections materials are delivered at set times and held on reserve for you for one week.

It is important to know the type of material you are requesting and the location where it will be delivered. See our collection delivery service.


Special collections material often has special handling conditions. Please comply with care and handling guidelines and follow instructions given by reading room staff.


The Library welcomes your use of the collection, however you are responsible for complying with the requirements of the Copyright Act 1968.

The easiest way to obtain copies for research is to bring a camera to the reading room. Cameras can be used where access conditions allow and you agree to comply with the care and handling guidelines. For more information see copying in the reading rooms.

Rare or unique works are often fragile or valuable and can only be copied by Library staff on your behalf. Order a copy through Copies Direct.

More information

Further information is available on our Using the Special Collections Reading Room guide.