Two figures in a large hall at the University of Cambridge


The International collection consists of non-Australian books, periodicals and pamphlets. The principal International collection originated from books that were formerly on the Library’s open shelves and added to over time. Other large collections include items donated by John Order Poynton, Middle Eastern manuscripts, private press collections and the Morgan collection of children’s books.

The principal International collection covers a wide range of subject areas, forming the hub of the International collections. It comprises books, journals and other materials published before 1881 that were previously held in the University of Melbourne’s original library collection.

Subject area collections

  • Architecture Collection

    Contains approximately 150 volumes, representing a wide range of architectural topics that complement other materials in the Rare Books Collection. The University’s Architecture, Building and Planning Library also holds rare materials including monographs, architectural drawings, engravings, photographs, postcards, sketchbooks, scrapbooks, films, and manuscript material.

  • Cambridge Collection

    Initially a partial purchase, and partial donation from Dr Pierre Gorman, this collection consists of materials dating from the 16th century to the present that focus on Cambridge University and the surrounding city. The holdings have grown from approximately 700 volumes to 2,500 through ongoing donations from both Dr Gorman and other collectors.

  • Children’s Books

    A number of collections either consist of or hold children’s books, including :

    Frederick Morgan Collection – an extensive collection of children’s books and literature donated in 1954. The collection comprises mainly English works published before 1940. The Kingston Collection (a virtually complete set of novels by the author WHG Kingston) forms an adjunct to the Frederick Morgan Collection.

    Public Schools Fiction Collection – initially amassed by the English collector Timothy d'Arch Smith and purchased in 1989 this approximately 2,000 volume collection provides a fascinating insight into what is today regarded as a quaint literary tradition. It comprises works of children’s fiction, magazines and annuals of stories set in British public schools.

    Approximately 1,400 children’s books published in Australia can be found in the McLaren Collection in Australiana.

  • Entomology Collection

    A small collection of entomology books, mostly from the 19th century,  donated to the university by Godfrey Howitt (1800-73), many in German and French.

  • Earth Sciences Collection

    Originating from the private and personal libraries of eminent early professors at the University including Frederick McCoy (1817-1899) and Ernest Skeats (1875-1953), this is an important research repository of rare and early geological and palaeontological texts – in many cases the only known copies available in Australia. The collection includes many foundational works from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It has particularly strong holdings of early paleontological works in English, French and German. The collection also includes significant runs of many early periodical titles.

  • Medieval Manuscript Facsimiles

    A large collection of medieval manuscript facsimiles. The collection is not yet available via the library catalogue. Further information can be found here: Guide to Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile Series

  • Medical Collection

    This collection numbers approximately 1,850 volumes and covers the vast range of subjects that constitute the history of western medicine, dating from early printed medical literature from the 16th century to rare, privately published or limited editions of the 20th century. Most items were published before 1850.

  • Middle Eastern Manuscripts

    Established as a research and teaching tool in the 1960s by John Bowman (1916-2006), Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University, the core of this collection was given to the Library in 1972 by the then Department of Middle Eastern Studies. Over time the collection has grown to 183 manuscripts, many of which are beautiful works of art in themselves. Arabic and Persian manuscripts are strongly represented in the collection, but there are also several Syriac, Urdu, Ethiopic, Sanskrit and Turkish texts. The manuscripts include Qur’ans and related texts, books of poetry, astrology, grammar, mathematics, logic dictionaries, prayer books, biographies and books of sayings.

Named collections

  • Professor R C Bald Collection of English Literature

    Bequeathed to the University by Professor R C Bald (1901-1965), graduate of the University of Melbourne and Professor in English at the University of Chicago, 1952-1965; this is a small but significant collection containing 200 volumes of English literature. Its strengths are the 17th century (particularly John Donne) and the Romantics, most notably Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This was a working collection and reflects Bald’s particular academic interests and pursuits.

  • Robert Brécy Collection of French Popular Music

    Robert Brécy (1912-1996) was a French historian with interests in the labour movement and popular song. This collection consists of 600 volumes of popular French songs from the late 18th to the early 20th century and includes books, musical scores and songbooks.

  • Poynton Collection

    Dr Orde Poynton (1906-2001) made his first donation to the University in 1960, soon after the Baillieu Library opened. Originally from England, he was an avid collector and continued to add to the collection until his death, by which time he had donated around 20,000 books. His collecting areas include early printed books; Greek and Roman classics; fine plate books and rare and important editions of noted 18th and 19th century British authors, particularly Sir Walter Scott; a significant collection of 20th century first editions; and a number of medieval manuscripts, leaves, and incunabula.

  • Felix Raab Political Thought Collection

    Consisting of books relating to political thought, the collection was established through the bequest of Mr Leo Raab to commemorate his son who died in 1962. It contains material spanning the 15th and 17th centuries, with special reference to Machiavelli.

    Felix Raab (1930-1962) was a first-class honours graduate in history of the University of Melbourne. As a University Travelling Scholar, he went first to Balliol College and then to a research studentship at Nuffield College, Oxford. His thesis, The English Face of Machiavelli, written under the supervision of Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper and submitted only a week or so before he died, was posthumously awarded a DPhil.

  • Alan Villiers Collection

    Originally the working library of the novelist and writer Alan Villiers (1903-1982), this collection of approximately 300 volumes consists mostly of books about ships, sailing and the sea. It was presented to the University by the Potter Foundation in 1982. The mixed collection includes significant and rare 20th century materials.