About the Library's collections

The State Library's major subject strengths are Australian history, culture and literature, including Aboriginal studies, Antarctic exploration, family history and genealogy, business and management, social sciences, applied science, biography, health and law.

The Library aims to collect, preserve and make accessible the documentary heritage of New South Wales. To this end, it holds over 5 million items including monographs, pictures, posters, ephemera, sheet music, talking books, maps, CD-ROMs, newspapers, microfilm and microfiche, films and videos, computer software, kits, sound recordings, photographs, architectural plans, coins, postage stamps and other objects.

The Library's collection is now valued as an asset, with a valuation of $2.142 billion.

You can find out more about material the Library collects in the Library’s Collection Development Policy. Go to the Collection Development Policy

The collections comprise:


Mitchell and Dixson collections

The collections of the Mitchell and Dixson Libraries form an extensive research collection relating to Australia with special emphasis on New South Wales, Antarctica and the South West Pacific. The collections include printed books, objects and ephemera.

State Reference Library collections

Introduction to State Reference Library collections covering new print and electronic material across all subject areas

Documenting Life in New South Wales

Research materials relating to the history, life, culture and achievements of people associated with NSW

Digital Collecting

The State Library's digital collections include born digital material as well as digitised content.


The manuscripts collection of the Mitchell and Dixson Libraries has extensive holdings of personal papers of individuals, including literary manuscripts, and the archives of private organisations, relating to Australia and the Pacific.


The State Library holds one of the most significant collections of maps in Australia, reflecting changes in cartography from the earliest charts of European navigators to digitally created maps of the twenty first century.


The State Library of New South Wales pictures collection contains over 100 000 watercolours, prints and drawings, approximately 2000 paintings, over 75 000 architectural plans, over one million photographs and 2300 museum objects.


The Library's photographic collection is one of the nation's largest and most important, comprising over one million images.

Oral History and sound recordings

Oral history is a record of information -usually on tape - as the result of a planned interview. Where there is no dedicated interview, the record is described as a sound recording. Both are part of the Library's original materials collections.

Online collections

More than 400 000 digital images are currently available through the Library's ongoing digitisation program, improving access to significant parts of its extensive collections.

Rare books and special collections

Rare books and special collections contains over 30 000 valuable and rare items acquired by the Library since 1826. Areas of particular strength are incunabula, sixteenth century printing, history, geography and illustrated bird and flower books.


The State Reference Library holds about 1700 newspapers published in Australia and overseas, specialising in collecting newspapers published in New South Wales.


The State Library of New South Wales holds extensive collections of microfilms (140,000 reels) and microfiche (over 1 million fiche).

Objects & ephemera

'Ephemera' is the transient printed material that accompanies our daily lives. Produced and distributed cheaply in many forms, ephemera advertises, attracts attention and informs in the immediate context. Discover this amazing Australian social history.


Our fact sheets provide information about caring for particular materials as well as lists of conservation websites and suppliers.

Mitchell Library Centenary

Project 2001-2010 is a showcase of the Library's collections and services, to preserve and make available our heritage to future generations, culminating in the centenary celebration of the Mitchell Library in 2010.

Recent additions

The State Library of New South Wales regularly adds to its fine collections of original materials. Discover our latest acquisitions.


A key strategic initiative is to bring more of the Library's unique collection online. The digitisation program aims to create, manage and make accessible digital images of collection items through the Library's website.


Donations of published and original material to the Mitchell Library help strengthen our historical and research collections.

Open Data

Access a selection of Library datasets and our Application Programming Interface (API) available for creative reuse and redistribution.

Quick Links

The State Library provides a free Information Request Service.

Macquarie St, Sydney
NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: (02) 9273 1414

Opening hours  |  Take a tour