Petherick Readers are granted access to facilities and privileges in order to support advanced, ongoing and in-depth use of the National Library’s collections.

Academics, authors, professional researchers, independent scholars, visiting fellows and grant holders at other institutions and doctoral or post-doctoral students are welcome to apply. Studies at undergraduate or master’s levels cannot be accommodated in the Petherick Reading Room.

Applications are considered and approved by senior Reader Services staff. Registration will generally be granted to those with a proven record of research and whose current or proposed research demonstrably involves significant onsite use of the Library’s collections.

To obtain a Petherick Reader’s card prospective Readers must complete an application form outlining their research topic and detailing intended use of the Library’s collections and resources.


When assessing applications, the Library takes into account the:

  • applicant's ability to clearly articulate their research goals and intended outcomes.
  • strength of evidence of the relevance and value of the National Library collections to the proposed research, particularly when materials are unique, rare or comprehensive.
  • quality of the applicant’s publishing track record or other research outputs. 


In addition to reviewing the Petherick Guidelines, we strongly recommend that applicants:

  • search the National Library's website and catalogue to confirm that the Library holds sufficient resources relevant to their research before applying for a Petherick Reader’s card.
  • submit evidence of previous research experience, such as a short bibliography, as well as an indication of the length of time they anticipate they will require the additional privileges of Petherick Reader registration. Past use of the collections may also be taken into account.
  • Note that required use of material from the Asian or Newspapers and Microforms Collections is not taken into consideration when assessing applications, as these collections are accessed in other Reading Rooms. 


Successful applicants are issued with a Petherick Reader’s card granting Petherick status for a time period that is appropriate to the expected duration of the research: 

  • Long-term use

Depending on the nature and duration of your research, Petherick Reader's Cards are valid for up to two years, with the possibility for renewal upon application. Prospective readers who are writing a book or undertaking a lengthy research project using special collections, for example, may wish to apply for long-term use.

  • Short-term use

These cards are issued to Petherick Readers who will be using the collections intensively for a shorter time, for example visiting academics and grant holders.