Reference items generally includes dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, indexes, handbooks, almanacs, atlases and directories. Reference items are generally consulted to obtain a specific piece of information, and are typically not written to be read consecutively.


AIATSIS Pathways
The AIATSIS Pathways Thesaurus contains the names of many Aboriginal language groups, peoples, places and subjects. Using the Pathways Thesaurus it is possible to perform an automatic search of the AIATSIS catalogue, Mura.  You can read more about the AIATSIS Thesaurus on their website.

Browsing the catalogue by subject

  • select the Browse alphabetically tab
  • choose subjects from the drop-down list
  • Type your keywords in the search bar

Some examples of Browse/Subjects searches are:

Selected Print Resources

Some select reference books are available in the Main Reading Room of the National Library and do not require a request to view. The following resources must be requested through the catalogue unless otherwise specified in the catalogue entry.

The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia (1994)
Covers eighteen subject areas, ranging from art to sport and technology. The contents reflect the interests and priorities of Aboriginal people, with the emphasis on biographical information, individual language groups and communities.

Macquarie Atlas of Indigenous Australia: Culture and Society Through Space and Time (2005)
Covers a wide range of aspects of Indigenous life, including society, culture, economics, politics, environment, technology, land ownership and use, visual and performing arts, sport, education, health, and placenames.

Records of National Cultural Significance: Indigenous Australians: A Report of the Archives Working Group of the Cultural Ministers Council (1997)
Contains details and descriptions of records in more than fifty-five institutions Australia-wide.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Commonwealth Records: A Guide to Records in the Australian Archives, ACT Regional Office (1993)
Commonwealth records include a lot of information relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This guide aims to make some of this information more accessible.

Bibliography of the Australian Aborigines and the Native Peoples of Torres Strait to 1959 (1963)
Contains 10,283 references on Aboriginal history and social change.

Annual Bibliography (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Library) (1989 to 1995) (Continues online 1996-2000)
Includes entries for books, chapters, periodical articles, conference papers, manuscripts, theses, sound recordings and photographs. This publication has changed title over the years and each new title has its own record in the catalogue. See the "Former Title" section of the catalogue record.

Aboriginal Australia & the Torres Strait Islands: Guide to Indigenous Australia (2001)
Lonely Planet guide book, with contributions from over 50 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.