Physical Collections

Reading room

The library has a range of collections, print and online, designed to meet the needs of the University community.

Some collections, such as the Main Collection, are large and spread across multiple libraries. Others, such as the East Asian Collection, are designed to support particular areas of teaching and research interest. 

In 2018, the library introduced the concept of neighbourhood collections, with materials that were traditionally housed in different sections of the library being brought together to facilitate ease of access and discovery opportunities. To date, three new neighbourhood collections have been created - the East Asian Collection, Yaitya Ngutupira, and the Recreational Reading Collection.

Our largest collection, however, can be found online, with the library managing and providing access to over 100,000 online journals and over 750,000 eBooks. Learn more about the library's online collections.

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  • Main Collection

    The Main Collection reflects the broad offerings of the University and covers the largest range of course-related subjects and areas of general interest.

    Highlights of the collection include materials covering:

    • Australian history, politics and literature.
    • English literature.
    • World Wars, socialism, and fascism.
    • Women and gender studies.
    • Food studies.
    • Medicine.
    • Mathematics.
    • Psychology.

    This collection in particular is developing from the physical to the electronic and digital, offering our patrons wider access to library materials away from campus. This includes not only online books and journals, but also digitised primary source materials from rare and specialised collection worldwide, especially developed digitised resources, and streamed music and visual materials.

    The Main Collection is constantly growing to meet the diverse teaching and research needs of our University community. You will find the Main Collection spread across all of the libraries.

  • High Use Collection

    The High Use Collection contains items that are in high demand (such as textbooks and required reading). They have a short loan period to ensure that all students are able to access course-related books when needed. Learn more about the High Use Collection.

  • East Asian Collection

    The East Asian Collection brings together the University of Adelaide Library’s existing collections of Chinese and Japanese language material to support research and teaching, particularly in the areas of social sciences, literature and history.

    It is made up of over 10,000 volumes of print materials acquired by the Library, as well as those generously donated over the years. Highlights include impressive sets of Japanese literature and specialist material covering the period of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1970).

    The East Asian Collection can be found on Level 1 South of the Barr Smith Library.

  • Music Collection

    The Music Collection is one of the largest classical music collections in Australia. It is comprised of reference works, books, journals, CDs, DVDs, LPs, collected editions and historical sets (monumenta), and performance and study scores.

    This collection brings together the former collections of the Elder Music Library. In 2002 during its previous incarnation, the Performing Arts Library, the Elder Music Library amalgamated with the Barr Smith Library Music Collection, the Fulton Library of the South Australian College of Advanced Education, and the Flinders Street School of Music.

    The Music Collection is held on Level1 South of the Barr Smith Library. Facilities include: insulated listening booths with specialist audio equipment and computers with Sibelius software.

    Access is also available to a large range of e-resources via Library Search or the Music Subject Guide.

    View the subject guide for music

  • Yaitya Ngutupira

    Yaitya Ngutupira - About Aboriginal knowledge, aims to support the embedding of Indigenous knowledge into University teaching and research through the provision of culturally appropriate and sensitive scholarly resources.

    Yaitya Ngutupira brings together physical and digital items from across the University Library. Print materials have been brought together on the themes of linguistics, music, art, native title, Indigenous authors, biography and traditional knowledge. Yaitya Ngutupira is located on level 1 of the Barr Smith Library, adjacent Rare Books & Special Collections and University Archives.

    Please note:
    Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are advised that this collection may contain names and images of deceased people. All users should also be aware that certain words, terms or descriptions may be culturally sensitive and may be considered inappropriate today, but may have reflected the author’s/creator’s attitude or that of the period in which they were written. 

  • Recreational Reading Collection

    Reading for pleasure has been linked to significantly reduced stress levels, increased focus and concentration, a wider vocabulary, and higher levels of empathy and emotional intelligence.

    The aim of this collection is to complement our existing literature collection (located in the 800s) with more up-to-date and popular titles. Highlights include:

    • Graphic novels
    • Popular fictional series
    • Light non-fiction and biographies
    • Hand-picked selections from the Main Collection on a rotating theme - currently displaying Australian authors

    Located in the Lounge area on Level 1 North of the Barr Smith Library, this collection is housed within a more relaxed environment (complete with comfortable wing-back chairs and lounges!) where our University community can take time out of their day and relax.

    Suggest a book for this collection

  • Map Collection

    The Map Collection comprises a range of (mostly) historical print maps in areas such as geography, geology, planning, social, and census. It includes a large number of sheet maps, wall maps and atlases donated by the Geography and Geology departments of the University.  

    The Map Collection is located on level 1 of the Barr Smith Library, although maps are also held in storage and in Rare Books and Special Collections. Learn more about finding and using maps.