About the collections
The State Library's major subject strengths
are Australian history, culture and literature, including Aboriginal
studies, Antarctic exploration, family history and genealogy, business
and management, social sciences, applied science, biography, health and
The Library's collection is now valued as
an asset, with a valuation of $1.883 billion.
The collections comprise:
Mitchell Library and Sir William Dixson Research Library printed books
The printed books collections of the Mitchell and Dixson Libraries
form an extensive research collection relating to Australia with special
emphasis on New South Wales, Antarctica and the South West Pacific.
The manuscripts collection of the Mitchell and Dixson Libraries has
extensive holdings of personal papers of individuals, including literary
manuscripts, and the archives of private organisations, relating to
Australia and the Pacific, and dating from the seventeenth century to
the present day.
The State Library of New South Wales pictures collection contains over
100 000 watercolours, prints and drawings, approximately 2000 paintings,
over 75 000 architectural plans, over one million photographs (see
Photographic collections), and 2300 museum objects.
The Library's photographic collection is one of the nation's largest
and most important, comprising over one million images. The collection
dates from the earliest known photograph taken in Australia, a
daguerreotype of Dr William Bland (1789–1868) probably produced between
November 1844 and January 1845.
The State Library of New South Wales maps collection is one of the
most important in Australia, containing 200 000 maps of New South Wales,
Australia, the Pacific region, Antarctica, and the rest of the world.
Maps date from the fifteenth century to the present day.
Oral history and sound recording collections
Oral history is a record of information —usually on tape — as the
result of a planned interview. Where there is no dedicated interview,
the record is described as a sound recording. Both are part of the
Library's original materials collections.
The State Reference Library collection
The State Reference Library collection contains over two million items
providing an extensive range of Australian and International research
material including printed books, journals, government reports,
statistics, audio-visual and electronic resources.
Rare Books and Special collections
Rare Books and Special Collections contains over 30 000 valuable and
rare items acquired by the Library since 1826. Areas of particular
strength are incunabula, sixteenth century printing, history, geography
and illustrated bird and flower books.
The State Reference Library holds about 1700 newspapers published in
Australia and overseas, specialising in collecting newspapers published
in New South Wales.
The Library has an ongoing
program to improve access to significant parts of its extensive
collections. Over 300 000 digital images are currently available through
records in the PICMAN database and, to a lesser extent, WEBCAT and
approximately 10 000 new images are being added each year. For more
information about the collections below, search the title in
The State Library of New South Wales holds extensive collections of
microfilms (140,000 reels) and microfiche (over 1 million fiche). The
microform collections mainly comprise preservation copies of State
Library materials, or copies of materials held in other institutions,
organizations and in private hands (including overseas locations).