Finding manuscripts

  • Search our catalogue - all manuscripts collections are described in our catalogue
  • Tip: Narrow your search to only manuscripts by selecting the 'Manuscripts' format filter
  • Visit the Pictures and Manuscripts reading room to view original material
  • If you have any questions, please contact us

Finding aids

  • Finding aids are descriptive lists which give an overview of the scope, content and size of a collection
  • Tip: Check the manuscripts catalogue record to find out if it has a digital finding aid
  • Tip: Use the box list in the finding aid to determine which boxes you need
  • Tip: Search the content of all online finding aids by using the catalogue search box, and on the ‘search results’ page look for the 'From our finding aids' box on the right side of the page – you may need to scroll down to find it
  • Note: Some finding aids are not online. Contact us or visit the Pictures and Manuscripts Reading Room to view these

Using the collection

  • Access conditions apply to all collections but the majority are available for research. Please be aware that some collections require access permission, and others may include material that is not available for research at this time. Check the catalogue or contact us before visiting to avoid disappointment
  • Request material to view by logging into the catalogue with your Library card and submitting an online request. See our collection delivery service and online video for more information
  • Some manuscripts are held at our offsite repository and so will take longer to deliver to the reading room.  See our collection delivery times for more information
  • Some manuscript collections are not fully arranged and described and so may need time to make ready before they can be used. These collections are described as 'unprocessed instalment' on the catalogue record. For these collections please contact us 4 weeks before your visit to discuss your request and allow time for material to be prepared for use.
  • Some items are held in special storage areas and are only delivered twice daily, during weekdays at 10.00am and 2.00pm.
  • When ready, material will be available to view in the Pictures and Manuscripts Reading Room

Photographing manuscripts in the reading room

  • The easiest way to obtain copies for study or research is to bring your digital camera to the reading room or borrow one from us
  • Digital cameras can be used where access conditions allow, and you agree to comply with the Copyright Act and correct care and handling of material guidelines

Getting a copy of a manuscripts item

This can be done via the Library's copying service Copies Direct.

  1. Select the 'Order a copy' button in the catalogue record for the collection you want
  2. Select 'Part(s) of item' (only select 'Whole item' if the collection is very small and you want it copied in full)
  3. Fill in details of the portion you would like copied. Please provide as much information as you can - e.g. Box, Series, Folder, item title/date, page numbers

Publishing manuscripts items from our collection

Please see How do I declare my intention to publish?

Publishing brief extracts

You will not need permission to publish brief extracts (or quotes) for the purposes of research, study, criticism or review, provided the amount quoted is not a 'substantial' part of the copyright work.

In general if you wish to publish more than one paragraph you will need permission from the copyright holder.


Please see How do I acknowledge the Library in my publication?

Getting an interlibrary loan

We do not lend manuscript collections but theses and dissertations can be borrowed through the interlibrary loan system. Please contact your local library to arrange this.

Contacting the Pictures and Manuscripts team

Use the Ask a Librarian service to lodge an online enquiry about manuscripts.
Phone: (+61) 2 6262 1259