Sydney Architecture Images-  Sydney University

Fisher Library University of Sydney 


Edward Herbert Farmer (NSWGA) with TE O'Mahony, design architect Ken Woolley.


University Place


Reference library (shorter building) 1962, stack 1967


Late 20th-Century Late Modern


Concrete frame, copper cladding


Fisher Library, University of Sydney. To the left of the image is Fisher Undergraduate library, and to the right is Fisher Research library.
The University of Sydney Library is one of the largest library in the southern hemisphere, with a collection of over 5.1 million items (circa 2004). The Library itself is composed of over 20 libraries across 9 campuses. The main building, Fisher Library, is named after Thomas Fisher, an early benefactor.

Amongst the collection are many rare items such as one of the two extant copies of the Gospel of Barnabas, and a first edition of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton.

Fisher Library
Fisher Library is the main library of the University and located on Eastern Avenue in the Darlington/Camperdown campus of University of Sydney adjacent to Victoria Park. Although the University library had previously been housed in the main building, in what is presently the Senate Room, its collection was moved to the purpose-built Fisher Library when it was completed in 1908. The original building constitutes the south-western corner of the Main Quadrangle and the original reading room is now MacLaurin Hall. Fisher Library moved to its present location in 1962. The current library consists of two conjoined buildings, which were built separately due to funding issues in the early days of the university.

Fisher Undergraduate library (Building F03), was built in 1962 and holds multiple copies of texts commonly used by undergraduate students of the university. This building also houses the computer access centre, the audio and visual collection, the rare books and special collections section, and the photocopying room.

Fisher Research library (Building F04), was built in 1967 and is an accessible stack library with a larger and more historical collection. This building also houses the East Asian collection. There is additional space in the F04 building which is used by the School of Psychology. The basement of the building also houses the Fishery Café, a location largely unknown to most of the student population probably because it is unable to be accessed from the front of the building nor from within the library itself.

Other libraries
Most of the other libraries of the University of Sydney Library are associated with particular Schools and Faculties. While these libraries specialise in their collections, there is no restriction on the use of any of these libraries by borrowers.

Architecture Library (Wilkinson Building, Darlington Campus) 
Badham Library - Veterinary Science, Agriculture, Biological Sciences (Badham Building, Camperdown Campus) 
Burkitt-Ford Library - Public Health, Medicine (Sir Edward Ford Building, Camperdown Campus) 
Camden Library - Veterinary Science, Agriculture (Camden Campus) 
Curriculum Resources Collection - Education (within Fisher Undergraduate Library, Camperdown Campus) 
Dentistry Library (Sydney Dental Hospital Campus) 
East Asian Collection (within Fisher Research Library, Camperdown Campus) 
Engineering Library (PNR Building, Darlington Campus) 
Health Sciences Library (Building R, Cumberland Campus) 
Law Library (St James Campus) 
Madsen Library - Chemistry, Geosciences, Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, Physics (Madsen Building, Camperdown Campus) 
Mathematics Library (Carslaw Building, Camperdown Campus) 
Medical Library (Bosch Building, Camperdown Campus) 
Music Library (Seymour Centre, Darlington Campus) 
Narrabri Library - Agriculture (Watson Wheat Research Centre) 
Nursing Library (Building F, Mallett Street Campus) 
Rare Books (within Fisher Research Library, Camperdown Campus) 
Schaeffer Fine Arts Library - incorporating the Power Research Library of Contemporary Art (Mills Building, Camperdown Campus) 
Storage - Darlington Repository Library (Darlington Campus) 
Sydney College of the Arts Library (Sydney College of the Arts Campus) 
Sydney Conservatorium of Music Library (Sydney Conservatorium of Music Campus) 
Development of the University as a teaching institution, Promotion of research, Teaching, research and support staff Promotion of research Teaching, research and support staff Development of the University site at and beyond Grose Farm. The development of this precinct, with its own entrance on City Road, together with the extension of the campus into Darlington changed both the focus and flow of University life for many students and staff away from its traditional heart in the main quadrangle and Science Road.
An assessment of significance has not been undertaken, however the building won both the Sulman Award and the RIBA Bronze Medal in 1962. The library was an important focal point of the new Eastern Avenue precinct which developed in the late 1950s-1960s. The development of this precinct, with its own entrance on City Road, together with the extension of the campus into Darlington changed both the focus and flow of University life for many students and staff away from its traditional heart in the main quadrangle and Science Road.

The new library, replacing the original Fisher Library built as part of the main quadrangle in 1902-1909, was designed by joint architects E H Farmer (the NSW Government Architect) and T E O'Mahony. Planned for construction in stages the library comprised two separate sections, one for undergraduates and the other for staff and senior scholars, linked by administration and special services, with the main entrance serving both. The first stage, a five-storey undergraduate wing with seating for approximately 2,000 had open access book stacks and individual carrels. The air conditioning plant was the largest of its type then in Australia. The building was colloquially known, during construction, as 'The tea-house of the August moon', a reference to a film then current and its Japanese-style appearance. The first stage, the undergraduate wing was opened in 1962. The nine-storey, copper clad, stack section was completed in 1971 by the firm of O'Mahony Neville & Morgan. Although originally designed as the research library for senior scholars and staff, the stack section became an open access area for all readers. The two basement levels were used as University offices including the offices of the Chancellor.

The first stage of the Fisher Library is an international modern style reinforced concrete framed three storey building with cantilevered floor and roof slabs. The design of the building clearly shows the influence of Mies Van de Rohe. Externally the frame and cantilever to the slabs is clad with copper/bronze (confirm). The building rests on a terrace that appears to float. At ground level the walls, which are set behind the frame, are clad with stone. Seating is cantilevered in alternate bays. The first floor is glazed and the second floor contains an extensive roof terrace which is formed by a continuation of the external frame. The second stage, the bookstack is a multistorey copper/bronze clad building with limited openings to prevent light from reaching the books. The large air conditioning plant is expressed as a separate element on the roof.