Rare Books and Special Collections

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available

Getting started

Use this guide to explore the Library's extensive, diverse and unique Rare Books collection.

You will learn about significant items, how to find and use material from the collection as well as how to get copies.

We've also included some resources to help you to continue learning about rare books.

Rare books at the Library

Visit the Special Collections area in the Mitchell Library Reading Room to use material that you've requested from the Rare Books collection. 

Find the Special Collections area at the southern end of the Mitchell Library Reading Room. The Special Collections area is closed on Sundays.

Requesting Rare Books


Digitised image of a plate from The Zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle

The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle : under the Command of Captain Fitzroy, R.N., during the Years 1832 to 1836... / Edited and Superintended by Charles Darwin. Smith, Elder, 1840. 

State Library of NSW: SAFE/Q591.9/ D SET