In some cases special collection items may require some weeks’ notice before viewing due to special storage conditions, or it may need to be treated or processed before use. The "Collect from" statement on a catalogue record will indicate if these conditions apply, contact us for advice on using these items.

Some Maps and Pictures collection items cannot be requested electronically through the catalogue, but you can submit a paper request onsite or contact us prior to your visit to arrange access.

Using the catalogue

Search the online catalogue for items in the collection and use the "Limits" drop down menu to search for particular special collection formats such as map, manuscript or picture.

See our Getting Started resources for tips on using the catalogue.

Many items have been digitised and can be seen online, downloaded and printed. You do not need a Library card to search, view and use digitised collection materials online.

Some Maps and Pictures collection materials have not been fully catalogued and will require staff assistance to access. Contact our Ask a Librarian service with details of what sort of material you are looking for and we can advise you further.


You will need to create a National Library account to request special collections materials. Creating a Library account allows you to request collection items from the catalogue to use in the Library, and provides you with access to a wide range of eResources from home. You will be issued with a National Library card when you first visit to view collection material in the Reading Room. 

To request material to view in the Library log-in to your account via the online catalogue, go to the catalogue record of an item you wish to use and on the click on the "SELECT" button at the bottom of the record. The "Collect from" statement on the catalogue record shows which materials will be delivered to the Special Collections Reading Room. If the "SELECT" is replaced with "IN USE" it means the item is currently on hold for another reader. 

When submitting a request for an item please provide as much information as possible, such as the box number, series number, issue details, sheet number or date range. This information can be found on the item’s catalogue record or a guide such as a manuscripts finding aid or map sheet index. If you are ordering multiple boxes from a Manuscripts collection, please ensure to order boxes consecutively (e.g., boxes 1-5; not boxes 1,3,5).

Most guides are available online linked from the catalogue record while others can be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room.