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University Libraries
SA 5005

Telephone: +61 8 8313 5759
Facsimile: +61 8 8313 4369

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Rare Books & Special Collections

Rare Books & Special Collections houses the Library’s most valuable and vulnerable publications, including old and rare books, fine and limited editions, University of Adelaide publications and the specialist Pacific and Theatre collections. It also takes responsibility for the collection and preservation of manuscripts and personal papers of members of the University community, particularly academic staff, and acquires collections of personal and institutional papers relating to its specific research strengths.  These include Pacific and indigenous Australian history and language, British and Australian theatre and University of Adelaide history.

Special Collections is located on Level 1 South of the Barr Smith Library and is open from 1.00pm to 4.00pm, Monday to Friday.  Service outside of these hours must be arranged in advance with the Special Collections Librarian.

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Adopt a Book

Many of the items housed in Rare Books & Special Collections are in need of repair and restoration in order to ensure their ongoing availability for future generations of scholars.  In 2012, the Friends of the University of Adelaide Library established the Adopt a Book scheme, offering Library supporters the opportunity to contribute towards this valuable conservation treatment.


Current Exhibition

140 Books: 1874-2014

This year The University of Adelaide celebrates 140 years since its establishment.  To commemorate the occasion, Rare Books and Special Collections  presents an exhibition "140 Books: 1874-2014" containing a book published from each year of the life of the University.

Books can change lives - they educate, enlighten, entertain and influence the future.  This exhibition will take a closer look at the books from the Library collections that have informed and inspired generations over the last 140 years.

Visit the exhibition at Rare Books and Special Collections, Barr Smith Library, Level 1, from the 11th of August to the 28th of September.


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South Australia Illustrated by George French Angas, 1847

The Decorative Art of Leon Bakst by Leon Bakst, 1913

Orchid Paintings in 8 Volumes by Rosa Fiveash, ca 1906-1932