'Special Collections’ are unique and rare materials, such as unpublished diaries, letters, photographs and draft poetry, which are preserved for future generations and made available for original research.
A book can be considered ‘rare’ for many reasons, including its age, scarcity, market value, if it is a limited or important edition, has special features (such as bindings and plates), or associations with particular individuals or events (such as signed and annotated copies, or a work owned by an important figure).
Anyone can use Special Collections. Our collections are available to all and we welcome enquiries from UNSW students and staff as well as researchers and individuals outside our university community.
Special Collections is physically located within the Academy Library at the UNSW Canberra campus. We value all requests and interest in our unique holdings. Please submit your enquiry using our Contact Us form.
In 2022 our small team is engaged in implementing a new collection delivery system, and is prioritising UNSW researcher requests.
UNSW staff and students
Online enquiries: Open Contact Us
Onsite service: From July 2022, our Appointment-Only service is available on Wednesdays between 9.30am and 4.30pm. Appointments must be requested by the Friday prior using the Contact Us form.
Due to reduced resource capacity in 2022, incoming requests from non-UNSW affiliates are being acknowledged, logged and placed in our holding queue for pending action. Please note in your request the timeline for your research, including any forthcoming deadlines. Contact Us
We value all requests and interest in our unique holdings. Please submit your enquiry using our Contact Us form.
In 2022-2023 our small team is engaged in implementing a new collection delivery system, and is prioritising UNSW researcher requests.
UNSW staff and students
Online enquiries: Open Contact Us
Onsite service: Our Appointment-Only service is available on Wednesdays between 9.30am and 4.30pm. Appointments must be requested by the Friday prior using the Contact Us form.
Due to reduced resource capacity in 2022-2023 incoming requests from non-UNSW affiliates are being acknowledged, logged and placed in our holding queue for pending action. Please note in your request the timeline for your research, including any forthcoming deadlines. We are unable to host onsite visits from non-UNSW researchers during this period. Contact Us
Special Collections is located on the UNSW Canberra campus at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), Northcott Drive, Campbell ACT 2612.
The John Howard Reading Room is physically situated on the ground floor of Building 13 (Academy Library).
Further guidance is available on our Visiting Us page.
Parking on the UNSW Canberra campus is free and there are no time limits. You can park in most bays in the main carparks unless otherwise marked.
It can often be busy, so it is best to arrive early or allow sufficient time to find a parking spot when planning your visit.
More detail can be found in our Campus map.
No. Due to their rarity our physical materials are only available for use under supervised access in the John Howard Reading Room. However, some items can be digitised.
Special Collections staff can answer simple enquiries and undertake preliminary checks for researchers but we do not provide in-depth research assistance or undertake extensive research on your behalf.
Researchers can send their research assistants to examine collections on their behalf or choose to engage a private researcher. A list of private researchers who undertake work for a negotiated fee is available on the National Library of Australia website.
Yes, some Special Collections materials are digitised or can be digitised on demand. Digitised copies are supplied for the purpose of research and study.
Yes in-copyright material requires prior permission before it can be published or reproduced. Special Collections can provide advice on the permissions needed and sometimes we have the contact information that can assist you to find copyright owners.
For more information please read our Copyright information sheet.
No, using Special Collections is free and there is no charge for registering as a researcher. You may make copies of collection items for research and study purposes with your own personal device.
Special Collections does charge for copies requested through our digitisation on demand service. Please refer to our Copying terms and charges.
You can bring your laptop, mobile devices, extension lead, charger, notebook, pencils and sealed water bottle into the John Howard Reading Room. An overhead scanner is available—please bring a USB to save your images.
No coffee, food, personal scanners, highlighters or pens are allowed.
Lockers are provided free of charge for storage of bags inside the entrance of Building 13 (Academy Library).
Yes, you can make copies of most Special Collections items for research and study purposes using your own camera or handheld device.
Please note that a photocopier is not available and that the use of personal scanners is not permitted in the John Howard Reading Room.
Please acknowledge ‘Special Collections, UNSW Canberra’ as the source when citing or reproducing collection items.
An example for Manuscripts:
Papers of Sandra Burchill, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 123, Box 1, Folder 2, ‘Correspondence from Harry Heseltine’
An example for Rare Books:
Great Britain. Air Ministry. Royal Air Force : Flying Training Manual, Part 1. Flying Instruction. London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1929, pp. 23-28, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
The UNSW Canberra SearchGateway automatically generates citations for Special Collections rare books in various academic styles including APA, MLA and Chicago. These can be found by clicking on the ‘Citation’ icon in the foot of the catalogue entry for each item.
For further information see Acknowledging and Citing Items.