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Strong Room Collection

The Strong Room Collection holds the University of Adelaide Library’s oldest and rarest books, majority of which were published before 1700. The collection also contains books which are highly significant to University and South Australian history, as well as rare and unique titles.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Books with significant former owners
  • Early religious texts and bibles
  • Botanicals (many hand coloured)
  • Voyages, Travels and Exploration
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Early Classical Literature
  • Custom/Unique bindings and private press books
  • First editions
  • Celebration books 

Housed within the collection are four incunabula (books published in the first 50 years of moveable type printing, 1450-1500) the oldest of which, Bruni's Leonardi Arretini Epistolarum Familiarium was published in 1472. As well as a facsimile reproduction of the first book printed in this method, the Gutenberg Bible.

The Gutenberg Bible, along with Galileo's Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche and Geoffrey Dutton's New York Nowhere were each purchased as celebrations for the University of Adelaide Library reaching collection milestones of half a million, a million and 2 million books in the collection respectively.

Some additional items of note in the collection include:

Leonardi Arretini Epistolarum Familiarium (1472) Francisci Moneliensis de Genua in digestum vetus (1482)
Orchid Paintings by Rosa Fiveash

Works in the Strong Room collection are identified in the Library catalogue by the location type 'Rare Books & Manuscripts Strong Room Collection'.

Due to the fragile nature of many of these works, requests cannot be placed for Strong Room books through Library Search. For access to Strong Room items, please contact us by email at with the details of your request

University Library

Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005


Phone: +61 8 8313 5224