University of Sydney Library

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The University of Sydney Library is the library system of the University of Sydney. It is composed of twelve locations across the seven campuses of the university. Its largest library, 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 an annotated first edition of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton,[1] which is also available in the Digital Collections.. In 2017, a member of staff discovered an original Giorgione sketch with a definitive date and cause of death written above it for him, information that had been lost for over 500 years in a 1497 edition of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. This copy of the Divine Comedy and the ink inscription and sketch are available in the Digital Collections[2]

A brief history of the Library[edit]

In 1885 the University received thirty thousand pounds from the estate of the late Thomas Fisher, retired bootmaker and property investor, to be used "in establishing and maintaining a library".

There was a difference of opinion in the University on how to spend the bequest. The Chancellor thought the fund should be used for a building and to contribute to the salary of a Librarian, but the Vice Chancellor and Library Committee preferred to buy books. In 1887 a compromise was reached. £20,000 plus accumulated interest was set aside for a building fund with the hope that the government would provide matching funds and £10,000 was directed to an endowment for books.

After many reversals and delays the New South Wales government agreed to fund the full cost of a new library building and the Fisher capital could be preserved as an endowed book fund. Plans were drawn up for the library by the Government Architect, Walter Vernon, and construction took eight years.

Fisher Library opened in 1909. The reading room was in the Gothic tradition with a magnificent cedar roof but the adjoining multi-tier book stack was of advanced design, including two electric book lifts. The reading room is now the MacLaurin Hall.[3]

The Quarter[edit]

The Quarter

The Quarter is a postgraduate coursework space located on the ground floor of the Badham Building (A16) on Science Road next to the Holme Building, one of the centres of student activity on Camperdown campus.[4]

The Quarter was formerly called the Badham Library, and the Badham Library's collection was consolidated into the SciTech Library.[5]

Camden Commons[edit]

Camden Library is located at 335 Werombi Road on the University of Sydney Camden campus.[6] The campus is approximately 65 km west from the City of Sydney, located just outside Camden.

The library supports research, teaching and study into the fields of Veterinary Science and Agriculture, Food and Natural resources. The Camden Library is opened 24 hours for University of Sydney staff and students.[7]

The library underwent a refurbishment in 2015 as part of its transition to a library commons.[8] This renovation opened up the space and greatly improved access for all visitors.

Conservatorium Library[edit]

The Conservatorium Library is located within The Sydney Conservatorium of Music building, Macquarie Street by the gates to Government House, right next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in the Centre of the City.

The library was not always within the Greenway building, in fact, due to space problems, many departments of the Conservatorium found themselves spread around the city during the last century. The library spent time in what is now the Intercontinental hotel as well as other locations around Pitt and Hunter streets.

The need for one location with enough space for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music prompted the State Government to step in and rebuild the Greenway Building at a cost of A$144 million, and so; in 2001 upon completion of the works, the entire Conservatorium (including the library) moved back into what is now a remarkable renovation of a historical space.

Spread over two levels, the Conservatorium Library is light-filled and spacious. A large circular glass roof illuminates both levels of the library space so even though we are in the heart of the building, we are still surrounded by wonderful natural light.

As you enter the library the first thing you will notice is the display room. This is well worth checking out as the library is constantly changing the exhibits and you never know what gem from the collection you will spy there. Also on this level you will find the majority of the collection as well as the public access computers, printers and photocopiers. When you head down to level one you will find the quiet study areas, the training room, and an AV room for viewing DVDs from the collection.[9]

Dentistry Library[edit]

The Sydney Dental Hospital is at the meeting of Chalmers and Elizabeth Streets in Surry Hills, right next to Central station. The library is up on the 8th floor.

The library offers all the resources and spaces required to support the learning and teaching needs of the Faculty of Dentistry.

Fisher Library[edit]

Fisher Library, University of Sydney. To the left of the image is Fisher North, and to the right is Fisher South.

Fisher Library is the largest and first branch of the library system, located on Eastern Avenue on the Camperdown campus, adjacent to Victoria Park. The Fisher Library is a 24 hour space for University of Sydney students and staff.[10] Its collection focuses on humanities, social science and commercial disciplines. The original Fisher Library, in the nineteenth century, was housed in the Quadrangle in what is presently the Senate Room. A purpose-built Fisher Library was completed in 1908 at the south-western corner of the Quadrangle, with its former reading room now known as MacLaurin Hall. The library was moved to its present location in 1962. Although it appears to be one building, the university classifies it as two separate buildings which are connected by foyer areas on the lower floors.

Fisher North

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

Fisher South

(Building F04) was built in 1967 with copper-clad outer walls. It is an accessible stack library with a larger and more historical collection. This building also houses the East Asian collection, the University Archives, and silent study desks, and some of the building's space is used by the School of Psychology.

Health Sciences Library[edit]

The Health Sciences Library is part of Cumberland Campus at Lidcombe, approximately 18 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district.

It is spread over two levels and over two and a half thousand square metres. It is here that you will find collections that cover indigenous health; preventative health care; exercise, health and performance; rehabilitation; and managing and communicating health information.

There are 11 group study rooms over the two levels that can be booked and plenty of facilities for photocopying, printing or computer access. This library also has a dedicated assistive technology room to ensure everybody has access to the library resources.

The library or "Resources Centre" was established to support the New South Wales College of Paramedical Studies in 1974 and was not originally part of the University. In 1989 it was formally recognised as an academic college of The University of Sydney. By then it had become "the Cumberland College of Health Sciences" and moved from the inner city to its current site at Lidcombe.

Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library[edit]

The interior of the Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library at the University of Sydney showing its curved ceiling

Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library opened in 2009 and is located on Eastern Avenue on the Camperdown campus, adjacent to Victoria Park and is housed within the University of Sydney Law School building (F10)[11] The Law Library is a 24 hour space for University of Sydney students and staff.[12]

The Law library is spread over 5,000 sq metres of floor space and the collections supports the needs of the Law School. The library consists of a ground floor that contains the majority of the collections, staff area, information desk, printing/photocopying facilities and computer access. Upstairs on the mezzanine level are the research collections and 6 more group study rooms. All of these rooms are equipped with computers and can be booked online.

Bosch Commons[edit]

The commons is situated in the Bosch building behind the Bosch lecture theatres on Western Avenue, Camperdown Campus.[13] The Bosch Commons is now a student study and learning space, and is available 24/7 for University of Sydney students and staff.[13] The collection can be found at SciTech Library or in the HAL-3 book vending machine.

Inside you will find group discussion tables, quiet study areas, a meeting room, and a computer lab that doubles as a training room.


The Medical library has a long history at the University, and it wasn't always in the Bosch building or as well resourced. It was originally in the Blackburn building, a Georgian style building overlaid with art deco. The library space was an octagonal room which, while being architecturally beautiful, was insufficient to house the growing collection and student population. Material was stored in the most unlikely places such as the staff tea room and anterooms to the lecture theatres. It was cold in winter and the smell from the adjacent animal facilities made opening the windows in summer an unattractive option. In 1968, relief came in the form of the newly built Bosch building which served to extend the teaching and laboratory spaces of the Medical School. This building was built without pretension but is a good example of the utilitarian style of buildings built during the 1960s and 70s at Sydney University.

Nursing Library[edit]

The old Bonds Factory, built on Mallett Street, Camperdown in 1917, is now the site of the Sydney Nursing School. Upstairs on the second floor, you will also find the Sydney University Nursing Library.

The space in the Nursing Library has been divided up by the shelves, creating a quiet study area that is isolated from the library computers and the lounge area. Behind the printer and photocopiers you will also find two bookable meeting rooms.

The library houses the collections for Nursing and Midwifery, however; you will also find some material on the social sciences and biology.

SciTech Library[edit]

Inside the SciTech Library

The library is situated within the Jane Foss Russell building, second floor. This building sits at the junction between the Darlington and Camperdown campuses. The library was opened in 2008 following an international design competition.


There are terraced areas dividing the study space and like an autumn forest, the book collection flows in lines of brown, green, red and orange, creating pockets of study areas between the shelves. Around the collection the meeting and training rooms hide behind walls of green glass. In the open foyer which adjoins the information desks, exhibition and lounge areas. These overlook and open onto the terraced study areas, populated by private booths and group tables. There also are adaptable training rooms, more quiet study areas and meeting room. There is also a student kitchen.

Sydney College of the Arts Library[edit]

The library space runs over two levels. Downstairs is where you will find the reference reading room, a student gallery, and the computer lab and associated printing and photocopying facilities. There are a couple of seminar rooms available on this level. What you will also find as you walk into the library is the multimedia collection featuring a collection of DVDs and CDs.

Upstairs is where the majority of the collection sits. There are thousands of art theory titles, biographies and collections of artist’s works that make up the bulk of SCA’s research collection. There are spots for quiet study, a second seminar room and a room fitted out for watching DVDs from the collection.

Building History

The Sydney College of the Arts is located off Balmain Road in Rozelle on what is known as the Kirkbride campus. Unlike the rest of the university which was purpose built as an educational institution, this historical site had a very different beginning. It was originally called the Callan Park Hospital for the Insane, and it was the State’s solution to the abhorrent overcrowding and squalid conditions of the two existing asylums at Tarban Creek and Parramatta. Built in the 1880s, it operated as a mental health hospital right up to 1994. In 1996, the Sydney College of the Arts moved in and with it the SCA Library.


The ThinkSpace is a library owned and run location that is a technology showcase and creative play space, aimed at sparking ideas and providing opportunities for collaboration.[14] These technologies are supported by Peer Learning Advisers (PLAs) who guide, support and assist clients in using the ThinkSpace. The space was officially launched on 1 September 2016.[15]

It has:

  • a Lulzbot Taz6 3D printer
  • a Carvey CNC
  • One Button Recording Studio
  • Video Wall
  • iMac's
  • Soldering station
  • graphics tablets
  • touchscreen pods.

Other collections[edit]

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 their use by borrowers: all library users have access to all collections.

  • Curriculum Resources Collection - Education (within Fisher Undergraduate Library, Camperdown Campus)
  • East Asian Collection (within Fisher Research Library, Camperdown Campus)
  • Rare Books (within Fisher Research Library, Camperdown Campus)
  • Storage - (Off-Campus)
  • Digital collections

The most recent library spaces to be established are the ThinkSpace, the Law and SciTech Libraries; the Law Library moved to the new Law Building on the Camperdown Campus in April 2009, along with the rest of the Sydney Law School.[11] The SciTech Library opened in late 2008 in the new Jane Foss Russell building on Darlington campus. It consolidates the collections of the former Architecture, Engineering, Madsen and Mathematics libraries in one location.[16]


  1. ^ "Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica". The University of Sydney Library Catalogue. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  2. ^ Slattery, Luke (16 February 2019). "Divine discovery: Renaissance art found by Sydney University librarian". The Australian. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  3. ^ "A Brief History of the University of Sydney Library". The University of Sydney Library. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  4. ^ University of Sydney (4 March 2016). "The Quarter - University of Sydney Library". Welcome to the Quarter. University of Sydney. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Badham Library Closure". The University of Sydney Library. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Locations and opening hours". The University of Sydney Library. 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Norman, Belinda (29 February 2016). "Camden Commons > Library News". University of Sydney Library. University of Sydney. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Library facilities". The University of Sydney Library. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Fisher and Law Libraries go 24/7! - Library News". 23 June 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Sydney Law School Building Opening". Sydney Law School. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b "University of Sydney Library Locations & Opening hours". University of Sydney. 28 February 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  14. ^ "University of Sydney Library". Library facilities. University of Sydney. 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  15. ^ "University of Sydney Library". ThinkSpace launch on 1 September. University of Sydney. 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Locations and opening hours, University of Sydney Library". Retrieved 30 August 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°53′12″S 151°11′25″E / 33.88667°S 151.19028°E / -33.88667; 151.19028