Research and Collections

Crop of Wendy Sharpes painting of the Mitchell Library

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A powerful single search tool to discover material from the Library's collections.

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Accessing the collection

Getting started at the Library

About our collections The collection is large, diverse and surprising! Learn about the distinct collections that we nurture for current and future generations.

David Scott Mitchell Library

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, made up of books, relics and fascinating curios

State Reference Library collection

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

Eresources collection

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

Significant collections These are unique and highly valued specific collections.

Richardson Collection

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

Donald MacPherson Collection of Art and Literature

The Library’s Donald MacPherson collection contains books on pure literature and fine art.

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.

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.

Gather: connecting Aboriginal communities with collections and stories

An innovative space for Aboriginal communities to connect with their cultural heritage.

Indigenous Languages Collection

The State Library of NSW holds significant language documentation related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

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.

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.

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.

Robbins Magic Collection

This rare collection gives an insight into the golden age of magic and conjurery

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.

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.

George Morrison Collection

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

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.

Cervantes Collection

The Cervantes collection was gathered over 30 years by Dr Ben Haneman. The collection includes over 1100 editions of Don Quixote, and hundreds of additional works on Cervantes

Fairfax Business Archive

The recently acquired Fairfax Media business archive tells the history of an iconic Australian Company. 

Social Media Archive

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

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.

LGBTQI+ collections

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

Building our collections What we collect and how we care for and share the Library's collections.

What the Library collects

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

Acquisitions and donations

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

Suggestion for purchase

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

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. 

Caring for the collections

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

Digitising the Library’s collections

Digitising its most iconic collections and renewing the Library’s underlying infrastructure and systems.

Legal deposit

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

The Diary Files

The Diary Files collects vignettes from the everyday lives of the people of NSW and beyond. 

Research & Engagement We actively foster the use, scholarship, and significance of the collections.

Scholar Talks

Scholar Talks  is a series of events that gives a forum for researchers to exchange ideas and learn about some of the many other research projects being pursued at the Library

Search a selection of transcripts

Search  the transcripts of the World War 1 diaries, James Cook's diaries, Joseph Banks papers, Macarthur Family papers. 

Open data: create with the collections

The Library would love to hear from creative digital thinkers with great and innovative ideas that use our collections.

Critics’ Picks

There are over 2,000 new books to browse and read in our Critics’ Picks section onsite.

Specialist websites

Resources of interest for specific communities.

Find Legal Answers

A free legal information service for the New South Wales community. This service is co-ordinated by staff of the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC).

Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary is a website about the history of Sydney, created in collaboration with hundreds of historians, local librarians, specialists and institutions.

Gather: connecting Aboriginal communities with collections and stories

An innovative space for Aboriginal communities to connect with their cultural heritage.

Drug Info

Find up-to-date information about alcohol and drugs. The website is regularly updated by specialist staff at the State Library of New South Wales in consultation with experts in the field.

Rediscovering Indigenous Languages

The Rediscovering Indigenous Languages project aims to make accessible the rich archival collections of the State Library of New South Wales. The site features historic word lists, records and other documents relating to Indigenous Australian languages.

Painting by numbers: the works of Ferdinand Bauer

Explore the work of Bauer (1760 – 1826), an Austrian botanical illustrator, held to be the greatest natural history painter of all time – and certainly the greatest to have worked in Australia.