Women pulling books off shelf

Research and collections

Search the catalogue to find and explore the Library's vast collections or let us guide you through some of the rich collections by subject, format or provenance. You can also learn more about how we build, care for and support research into the Library's collections.

Search the collection

Start your search here. If you are looking for specific title, author or a specific format, you can use the filters from the dropdown menu before you select search. 

Other places to find what you are looking for

Digital collections

Browse online over 5.7 million digital files from the collection, with more being added all the time. 


Find full-text articles, newspapers and images.


Go directly to a list of ebooks in the catalogue.

Old catalogue

Access previously saved searches and bookmarks.

Accessing the collection

Get a Library card

With a Library card you can request books and other collection material to use in the Library, access eresources and book a study room.

Ask a Librarian service

Need help with your research or finding the right resource? Have a question that you can’t find the answer to? Ask a Librarian!

Using items from the Library's collection

How to request and use general collection material, including books, manuscripts, audio and many other items.

Using items from the special collections

How to request and use original and rare printed material, including items that are unique, irreplaceable or fragile.

Ordering copies of Library items

Find out how to order copies of collection items, including articles, images, prints and recordings.

Research guides

Guides to help you find key resources from the collection.

Researching your family history

Explore your family history using the Library's diverse and extensive collections and get help from the Library's specialist staff.

Multilingual information and services

Magazines, newspapers, dictionaries and websites to read in various languages.

About the collections

Learn about the Library's main collections and their history.
Mitchell Library stamp

David Scott Mitchell collection

The David Scott Mitchell Library is home to a vast and unique collection of Australian and Pacific artefacts

Sir William Dixson collection

The Dixson collection is one of world's most extensive Australiana collections, which includes books, relics and fascinating curios

Illustration of books advertising the Sydney public Library

State Reference Library collection

An extensive and growing collection of Australian and international books and materials.

Significant collections

These are collections or archives which have been formed by a significant individual or organisation.
Illustration of Christ and saints

Nelson Moore Richardson Collection

This is a rich collection of early bibles, medieval manuscripts and early printed works

Photograph of leather bound journals and diaries

Personal diaries and letters from the First World War

A rich and significant collection of personal diaries and letters written by those who served in World War I.

TAL & Dai-ichi Life (Earl of Derby) Collection

The Earl of Derby collection is six volumes of stunning natural history watercolours of Australian flora and fauna.

Angus & Robertson Collection

The Angus & Robertson collections chart the development of Australian literature, providing extensive and valuable resources for the study of Australian writing and publishing.

Holtermann Collection

The Holtermann Collection of 3,500 glass plate negatives from the 1870s has been recognised in the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World register.

Illustration of soldiers shooting peasants in red caps

George Morrison Collection

A comprehensive collection of the personal papers of a remarkable Australian also known as 'Morrison of Peking'.

Sir Joseph Banks Papers, 1767-1822

The Joseph Banks collection includes journals, correspondence, letters received, reports, invoices and accounts, and some maps, charts and watercolours.

Red Cross nurses

Red Cross Archive

One of the country's oldest and most prolific volunteer organisations is the Australian Red Cross Society.


In these subject guides we have gathered material across formats and collections around areas of ongoing interest and research.

First Fleet Collection

The First Fleet Collection includes journals, letters, drawings, maps and charts created by those who travelled with the First Fleet of British ships to Australia. It is one of the Library’s most significant and valuable collections.

Item 22: Parade participants with 'Respect', 'Love' and 'Diversity' signs, 4 March 2006 / photograph by Geoff Friend

LGBTQI+ collections

Explore highlights from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex collections. 

Shakespeare Folios

The four Shakespeare Folios are one of the most important collections in the Library. These are the earliest texts of William Shakespeare's work, published in the 17th century.

Photograph of leather bound journals and diaries

World War I collection

The Library began collecting the personal diaries and correspondence of men and women who served in the First World War soon after the Armistice was declared in November 1918.


The Library collections can also be described by their format. Each format has particular characteristics and highlights.
  • Collection
Social media archive- emotion flower

Social Media Archive

Collecting digital material to provide a documentary record of life in New South Wales

Advertisement  for sale of railway bridge Como

Subdivision plans

The Library has a large collection of real estate or subdivision plans dating from the 1860s to the 1950s. These plans show the expansion of suburbs in Sydney and regional New South Wales as large tracts of land were divided into smaller plots.

Newspaper and magazine covers


Access an extensive collection of local and international newspapers, in a range of physical and digital formats.

Three books piled ontop of each other

Rare books and special collections

The rare book collections date from the 15th to the 21st century. Rarity may be considered through age, uniqueness, ownership, significant edition, a special binding or illustration. 

People at desk with laptop from above

Eresources collection

Access online over 300 resources including databases, ejournals and ebooks.

Sir William Dixson numismatic collection

Over the course of his lifetime the wealthy Sydney businessman Sir William Dixson (1870–1952) amassed one of the finest numismatic collections in Australia.


The Library’s diverse collection of architectural material includes working drawings, sketches and sketchbooks, specifications and contracts, correspondence and photographs.


One of Australia's most significant historical and documentary collections, featuring historical paintings and drawings from the 18th century through to contemporary pictorial works and includes over 170,000 works on paper.

Building the collections

What we collect and how we care for and share the Library's collections.
Books on shelf with bookmarks behind plastic

What the Library collects

The Library collects material that documents life in New South Wales, from the earliest times to the present day. 

Item 22: Parade participants with 'Respect', 'Love' and 'Diversity' signs, 4 March 2006 / photograph by Geoff Friend

Contemporary collecting priorities

The Library adds thousands of items to the collection every year. Some of the most valued additions are acquired from members of the community. 

Old books and parchments

Collection acquisitions

The Library is constantly expanding its collections and considers offers of material.


Legal deposit

All NSW publishers are required to deposit their publications with the Library.

Suggestion for purchase

The Library welcomes your suggestions for purchase for the Library collection.

Hands picking at strands of paper on map

Caring for the collections

The Collections Care branch carries out vital work in preserving, restoring and maintaining the Library's rich collections.

Woman putting glass screen under camera

Digitising the Library's collections

The Library plans to create and preserve digital material on a scale never before seen in Australia. 

Engaging with collections

We actively foster the use, scholarship, and exploration of the collections.

Scholar Talks

Hear researchers talk about their work and ideas at these monthly online events.

Oysters with Panko Breadcrumbs, butter, a little cream and nutmeg; Oysters with sesame-seed oil, soy, native finger limes; Oyster Patties; Plain Oysters; Unshucked oysters. Photo by Joy Lai

Recipes from the collection

Ever wonder how delicious old recipes actually are? Why not test out a cookbook from the collection!