Finding manuscripts

  • Search our catalogue - all manuscripts collections are described in our catalogue.
  • Tip: Narrow your search to only manuscripts by selecting the 'Manuscripts' format filter.
  • Visit the Special Collections Reading Room to view original material.
  • If you have any questions, please contact us.

Using the collection

  • Access conditions apply to all collections but the majority are available for research. Please be aware that some collections require access permission, and others may include material that is not available for research at this time. Check the catalogue or contact us before visiting to avoid disappointment.
  • Request material to view by logging into the catalogue with your Library card and submitting an online request. See our collection delivery service and online video for more information.
  • Some manuscripts are held at our offsite repository and so will take longer to deliver to the Reading Room.  See our collection delivery times for more information.
  • When ready, material will be available to view in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Finding aids

  • Finding aids are descriptive lists which give an overview of the scope, content and size of a collection. Use a finding aid to select what parts within a large collection you want to request.
  • Tip: Check the manuscripts catalogue record to find out if it has an online finding aid.
  • Note: Some finding aids are not online. Contact us and we can send you a copy, or visit the Special Collections Reading Room to view these.
  • Tip: Use the box list in the finding aid to determine which boxes you need.
  • Tip: Search the content of all online finding aids by using the catalogue search box, and on the ‘search results’ page look for the 'From our finding aids' box on the right side of the page – you may need to scroll down to find it.

 Collections not fully arranged and described

Some manuscript collections are not fully arranged and described and so may need time to make ready before they can be used. These collections are sometimes described as 'unprocessed instalment' on the catalogue record. For these collections please contact us 4 weeks before your visit to discuss your request and allow time for material to be prepared for use.

Special storage conditions

Some items are held in special storage areas and are only delivered once a day and only available to view on weekdays 10.30am to 5pm. Request cut off time is 8.30am for a delivery at 10.30am that day. These items must be returned by 5pm on that same day and so do not have the usual one week reserve period. If you wish to use the item again you will need to request it again before 8.30am on the day of your next visit. Contact us for advice on using these items.

Photographing manuscripts in the reading room

The easiest way to obtain copies for study or research is to bring your digital camera to the reading room or borrow one from us.

Digital cameras can be used where access conditions allow, and you agree to comply with the Copyright Act and correct care and handling of material guidelines.

Getting a copy of a manuscripts item

This can be done via the Library's copying service Copies Direct.

  1. Select the 'Order a copy' tab at the bottom of the catalogue record for the collection you want
  2. Select 'Part(s) of item' (only select 'Whole item' if the collection is very small and you want it copied in full)
  3. Fill in details of the portion you would like copied. Please provide as much information as you can - e.g. Box, Series, Folder, item title/date, page numbers
  4. Click on 'Add to cart' to open the online order form.

Publishing manuscripts items from our collection

How do I declare my intention to publish?

Publishing brief extracts

You will not need permission to publish brief extracts (or quotes) for the purposes of research, study, criticism or review, provided the amount quoted is not a 'substantial' part of the copyright work.

In general if you wish to publish more than one paragraph you will need permission from the copyright holder.


How do I acknowledge the Library in my publication?

Contacting the Pictures and Manuscripts team

Use the Ask a Librarian service to lodge an online enquiry about manuscripts.
Phone: (+61) 2 6262 1259