Accessing & Using The Collections

The University Library is the custodian of rare, unique, and valuable collections that are used for research, teaching, and learning. Our role is to preserve them for future generations. 

The University Library's rare and unique collections are open to all researchers, including staff and students of the University of Adelaide. Historians, researchers from other institutions, and members of the public are also welcome. 

The items held within the collections are often valuable, rare, fragile, or all three. Access conditions for items also vary between the collections (and, on occasion, even within a collection).

In general:

  • Collections are accessed in the Special Collections Reading Room, located on Level 1 of the Barr Smith Library. Items cannot be borrowed and cannot be removed from the room. Find out more about our opening hours.
  • You will need a valid photo ID for access.
  • Some collections and items have additional access conditions or restrictions based on age, fragility, or the conditions set down as part of the original donation. 

Access to the manuscript collection and University Archives are by application.

Search for rare and unique collection materials

You can search for collection items that might assist with your research in a number of ways. In particular, you may like to: 

Get in touch to make your requests ahead of your visit

Once you've identified the items that you're interested in - or would like to talk about what else is available - please contact us to discuss the items you'd like to access.

While we do our best to accommodate requests with short turnaround times, collection items are held in multiple locations across all campuses. By contacting us in advance we can ensure that the items you'd like to view will be available when you visit.