Reference books on shelf in Main Reading Room of National Library of Australia

There are numerous guides and bibliographies available to help you navigate the National Library of Australia's vast collections.

This list includes the major guides and bibliographies that are specific to, or have significant references to, the Library's collections. A number of these are now available online as well as in print.

NLA Publishing have also produced many other works which highlight specific material and collections.

General guides to the collections

Bibliography of Australia. 1941-1969.
Ferguson, John Alexander (compiler),  7 volumes, facsimile edition. 
First published in Sydney by Angus & Robertson, 1941-1969.

Bibliography of Australia: addenda 1784-1850. Volumes I-IV. 1986.
Ferguson, John Alexander (compiler).
The preparation of the addenda to Ferguson’s definitive Bibliography of Australia was commenced during the lifetime of Sir John Ferguson. The work was carried on after his death, first by his original publishers Angus & Robertson and later by the National Library of Australia.

National Library of Australia: guide to the collections. 1974-1983.
Burmester, Clifford Amandus (compiler), 4 volumes.
An essential general survey of the Library’s collections by subject. See also our online Guide to selected collections.

Paradise possessed: the Rex Nan Kivell Collection, a collection of essays. 2000.
A New Zealand-born collector, connoisseur and art dealer, Rex Nan Kivell amassed a remarkably diverse collection of special interest to all Australians - a collection that documents both European imaginings of the fabled Antipodes, and real European voyages to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

The People’s treasures: collections in the National Library of Australia. 1993.
Thompson, John (editor).
Provides an insight into the richness of the collections held in the National Library of Australia for the people of Australia.

Remarkable occurrences: the National Library of Australia’s first 100 years, 1901–2001. 2001.
Cochrane, Peter (editor).
The fascinating stories that lie behind the collecting of Australia’s heritage are revealed in this lavishly illustrated centenary volume.

Subject guides to the collections

The Aged in Australia: a research guide and select bibliography of Australian publications. 1999.
Jordan, Roy (compiler).
Also available in printed format.

America on record: a guide to books and other materials relating to the United States of America in the National Library of Australia. 1976
Burmester, Clifford Amandus (compiler).

Australian children's books to 1980: a select bibliography of the collection held in the National Library of Australia. 1989.
O'Neill, Terence and Frances (compilers).

Dr John Cooper Theosophy Collection. 2005.
In 2003 the National Library acquired the collection of the late Dr John Cooper, a notable Australian historian of the Theosophical Movement. The collection consists of nearly 4,000 books and pamphlets, more than 240 serial titles and 30 large boxes of archival material. This is a bibliography of the books and serials in the collection.

Farsi Collection. 2000.
A Farsi language catalogue of items held by the National Library of Australia.

Genealogy and heraldry in the National Library of Australia: a select guide and bibliography. 1988.
This guide and bibliography introduces researchers who are engaged in tracing family histories to the special collections of the Library most likely to be useful to them, and lists over 2,500 works selected by staff experienced in genealogical research.

Guide to overseas statutes in the National Library of Australia. 1993.
Udris, Biruta (compiler).

Our multicultural heritage 1788-1945: an annotated guide to the collections of the National Library of Australia. 1995.
York, Barry (compiler).

Aboriginal Australia

Guide to the papers of Edward Koiki Mabo in the National Library of Australia. 1995.
Also available and updated online.

Many voices: reflections on experiences of indigenous child separation. 2002.
Mellor, Doreen and Haebich, Anna (editors).

Mura Gadi: a guide to manuscript, pictorial and oral history resources in the National Library of Australia relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2004.
Also available in archived format online.

Asian collections

Australiana collections in the Chinese language held by the National Library of Australia. 2000.
Sun, Ching-Oh and Ouyang, Dipin (compilers). 

Burmese serials in the National Library of Australia. 2001.
Pe Thein Zar (compiler).

Indonesian acquisitions list. 1977-2001.

Cartographic materials

Australian maps. 1968–1988.
Quarterly publication with annual cumulations 1968-1981, annual 1982–1988. A comprehensive list of sheet maps representing areas within Australia and its territories, and other maps of Australian association.

Film and video

Screen studies catalogue: alphabetic.
The National Film and Video Lending Service is now available from the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra.


While the focus of the Library’s manuscript collecting program is the documentation of Australian life and endeavour from a national perspective, the collection includes a significant body of material which is of interest to scholars of the Asia–Pacific region and material which is relevant to the European discovery, exploration and settlement of Australia.

Principal manuscript collections in the National Library of Australia. 3rd ed.1992 This guide is a convenient listing of the major collections of personal papers and institutional records in the Library’s keeping as at 1992. All collections which occupy at least one manuscript box, or smaller collections of proven significance, have been included in the guide. The section for Stations, Societies, Organisations, Companies and Conferences may be a useful aid to searching the Catalogue for these institutions. 

National Library of Australia, 1965-1995
The guide includes collections of personal papers and non-governmental organisational records held by Australian libraries and archives, wherever located. Additions to the three loose-leaf binders were made up to 1995. An alphabetical index is found in each volume.
The Directory was originally produced as an aid to staff but the 1991 edition was revised and made available to members of the public. It includes detailed information about the Library’s medieval manuscripts, from the period 500 to 1500 A.D.

Online directories

Guide to Medieval Manuscript Collections in the National Library of Australia

Guide to the Collections containing paper currency-related items in the National Library of Australia

Guide to Manuscript Collections on women's suffrage in the National Library of Australia

Microfilm collections

Guide to microform research collections in the National Library of Australia 1992.
Stone, Beth (compiler). 
A descriptive listing of major National Library holdings in microform. It outlines the content of the collections and the guides and indexes which provide access to them.

Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP)
The AJCP was a joint venture between the Library and the State Library of New South Wales to microfilm records, principally of Australasian and Pacific interest, held in public repositories, institutional and private collections in the United Kingdom. A large component of the materials microfilmed were the official records held in the Public Record Office relating to the British administration of the Australasian colonies and later to British interests and influence in Australasia. The Library continues to acquire on a case-by-case basis microfilm of records of Australian interest held in British repositories or in private hands.

Pacific Manuscripts Bureau. The Library is a full-member library of the PMB and holds a complete set of all the Pacific printed and manuscript materials filmed by the Bureau over many years.

Music and dance

Hair, Graham, 1999. 
A guide to Don Banks' personal papers and scores, together with his personal library of books, serials, recordings and miscellanea, as housed in the Manuscript Section, the Music Collection and the Oral History Section of the National Library of Australia.
Descriptions and illustrations from the Library's sheet music collection reflecting Australia as a nation. 
A collector's book of Australian dance 
Potter, Michelle, 2002.
A collection of dance-related images from the National Library's Pictorial Collection. 
Potter, Michelle, 1991.
A guide to the extensive and rich performing arts materials held in the National Library of Australia. From the high art of Melba to the giggles of vaudeville, the collections contain portraits, manuscripts, oral history interviews, photographs, music scores, personal papers, theatre programs and memorabilia. 

Oral history

Australia's Oral History Collections: A National Directory. 1997.

The Hazel de Berg recordings from the Oral History Collection of the National Library of Australia. 1989.



This fully illustrated catalogue of the oil paintings in the National Library of Australia's Pictorial Collection is invaluable to researchers of Australian history and Australian art. Among these historically important paintings are many of outstanding artistic quality including works by Tom Roberts, John Glover, Conrad Martens and Eugene von Guerard. For anyone interested in the historical and social aspects of Australian life, this catalogue is a vital research tool.

Ennis, Helen, 2004.
The first representative survey of the Library's photographic holdings, this work introduces the reader to Australia from the 1840s to the present, through the cameras of Charles Bayliss, Samuel Sweet, Olive Cotton, May and Minna Moore, Peta Hill, Frank Hurley, Harold Cazneaux, Max Dupain, Philip Gostelow, Raymond de Berquelle, Wolfgang Sievers and many more.