The National Library of Australia’s special collections include rare books and journals, artworks, photographs, maps, sheet music, oral history recordings, manuscript papers, ephemera and more. This material can be accessed in the Special Collections Reading Room on level 1 of the Library building.

This guide provides information on how you can request, access and use these collections.

To protect the unique collection materials used in the room please note that bags, food and drink are not permitted in the Special Collections Reading Room. These and other large objects such as umbrellas can be stored in our free self-service lockers on Lower Ground 1.

Opening hours and delivery times

The Special Collections Reading Room is open Monday to Thursday 10am-8pm and Friday to Saturday 10am-5pm. The Reading Room is closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Collection material is delivered to the Special Collections Reading Room three times each weekday based on a cut off time for submitting a request. See our collection delivery times page for further details.

Please Note: Due to building works scheduled February to May 2020 the delivery of some manuscripts will be limited to once per day. See the temporary manuscripts delivery time changes on our collection delivery times page.

Room facilities

Facilities within the Special Collections Reading Room includes:

  • free wifi and computers with internet and Microsoft Office suite
  • copying facilities for use with selected collection materials
  • equipment to listen to Oral History and Folklore recordings
  • a reference book collection curated to support the use of our unique collections
  • indexes, finding aids and guides to assist with requesting and using collections
  • small meeting rooms that can be booked for groups to consult collection materials together

The Petherick Reading Room is co-located within the Special Collections Reading Room and provides a dedicated space for readers undertaking intensive research.