About Special Collections

The Special Collections are located within the Academy Library, UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and house the Library’s rare books, theses and manuscript collections. The Collection currently includes some 13,500 rare books, and 350+ manuscript collections.

The Rare Book collection was established with the opening of the Academy in 1985. This collection is particularly rich in the areas of Australian military history and Australian literature, however the Special Collections also has significant holdings in Australian exploration literature, English literature, and general Australian history.

The manuscript collecting program, initiated jointly by the English Department and the Library, began in 1986. This collection now contains manuscript material of national significance in the disciplines of Australian military history and Australian literature.

In 2013, a partnership was established between UNSW Canberra and the National Archives of Australia, resulting in an agreement to transfer custody of the John Howard Collection to UNSW Canberra. This collection is highly relevant to the Defence Studies discipline. The John Howard Reading Room (JHRR) was subsequently opened in 2014 for the use of all Special Collections readers.

Special Collections materials are available to the students and staff of UNSW, visitors and researchers.

Materials are available for viewing in the Library by appointment.