Searching the Collections



The Reading Room is reserved for the use of researchers accessing material from Special Collections, the University of Melbourne Archives, and Grainger Museum Collection.

Anyone is welcome to request and access material in the Reading Room, including staff and students from the University of Melbourne and other institutions, professional historians or researchers, and members of the public.

Each collection has its own catalogue and way of identifying material that you can request to view.

Guide to Searching Material

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  • Special Collections (Rare Books, Rare Music, Prints)

    Special Collections comprises the Rare Books collection, Rare Music collection and Print collection. Browse the Special Collections website to find out more about these collections.

    Special Collections website

    Rare Books

    The Rare Books collection includes significant Australian and international collections of books, journals and ephemera. It also holds works generated by the University of Melbourne and its students, including the Masters and PhD Thesis Collection and the University of Melbourne Press Collection.

    Rare Books material is identified with a location code containing "SpC", for example, SpC/T, SpC/Ax and SpC/UM.

    Rare Books material can be searched online through the University Library Catalogue.

    Search the Library Catalogue

    The A-Z listing of Rare Books contains additional information on specific collections, including uncatalogued material.

    A-Z listing of Rare Books

    Rare Music

    Rare Music comprises music manuscripts, printed scores, books, archival collections and other music-related materials that are rare and in some cases unique. The collection includes items from the late 13th century through to the present day.

    Rare Music material will contain the location code Music RB, Music REF, Music RBEF, or Store Music RB.

    Over 10,000 rare music items can be located by searching the Library Catalogue.

    Search the Library Catalogue

    Information on some collections, while not catalogued, is available through detailed finding aids.

    Finding Aids


    The Print Collection is one of Australia's most significant university art collections, comprising more than 8,000 prints, predominantly by the old masters dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth century.

    A comprehensive database of Print Collection material, including digitised items, is available online.

    Prints Database  

  • University of Melbourne Archives

    The University of Melbourne Archives holds nearly 20km of records, including material relating to the University and its governance and administration. It also holds collections of Victorian businesses, trade unions and other labour history material, and records of professional, community, women's, peace and political organisation.  This varied archival collection is one of the largest non-governmental collections in Australia and provides a rich source for research in Victorian and Australian history.

    The University of Melbourne archives has an online catalogue, which contains summary information about all of its collections. In addition, the University of Melbourne Archives Library holds books and resources. These can be searched via the University Library Catalogue and are identified with the location code "UniM Archives".

    Archives catalogue

    Search the Library Catalogue

    Finding aids for many of the collections are also available and provide more detailed box of file lists that usually contain box or unit numbers. The Archives website Resource page contains comprehensive information on searching collection finding aids, subject guides and digital collections.

    Archives Website Resource Page

  • Grainger Museum

    The Grainger Museum is the only purpose-built autobiographical museum in Australia. Its collection was amassed by world-renowned composer and pianist Percy Grainger (1882 - 1961). This eclectic collection encompasses art works, costumes, ethnographic artefacts, musical instruments, musical scores, photographs books, manuscripts and Grainger's personal archives.

    Most of the Grainger Museum collection can be searched in the dedicated Grainger Museum catalogue.

    GRAINGER Catalogue

    Material in the University Library Catalogue includes Percy Grainger's personal library, the Grainger Musuem reference library, and a number of CDs and DVDs.  Grainger Museum collection material has the location code "UniM Grainger".

    Search the Library Catalogue

    There are also collection finding aids in PDF format that list music by Percy Grainger, Grainger's collection of music by other composers, and the GWL Marshall-Hall collection.

    GRAINGER Finding Aids

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