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Special Collections

photograph of books in glass display cabinet            The University of South Australia Library has diverse Special Collections that contribute to a rich political, social and public health history of Australia, with a particular focus on South Australia and prominent South Australians. Our Special Collections support the University’s education and research themes and contain rare, fragile, vulnerable, archival and culturally sensitive material. They include published and unpublished material in print, audiovisual and digital formats.  

Some of our Special Collections are predominantly published material such as books, journals and audio visual material collected around a topic or theme. Others have been collected by a person or organisation, often predominantly containing unpublished material.

Picture - Special Collections books in the City West Library, UniSA Library 2020
How can I explore and access the Collections?

Special Collections can be explored through the individual Collection pages on this guide, through targeted searching of Special Collections or serendipitous browsing through Collection Discovery.

To search across the Collections, type in keywords relating to the collection of interest. 

To explore a specific Collection, first select the ‘search’ link under the Collection name on the Special Collections home page. 

Results can be filtered using the 'Refine my results' menu on the left of the results screen.  

Some useful refinement suggestions: 

  • Publication date 
  • Collection 
  • Subject 
  • Show Only > Full Text Online (to view material that has been digitised) 

Accessing Collections

While some material has been digitised and is available online, most material is in a physical form.

The University Pub                            lications Collection and the History of Primary Education in South Australia Collection are available for loan by UniSA staff and students. All other Collections are only available by appointment within the Library. Members of the public can also arrange to see material in our Collections by appointment.

To arrange an appointment, contact  Ask the Library.

Individual Collection pages contain more specific information about their access and location.

Stack of papers from the Bob Hawke Collection, UniSA Library 2020
Researching with Archival Collections

Some of our Special Collections contain archival material.

Archives are records collected over a period of time by a person or organisation. They are usually arranged into series of related records housed in boxes that respect the order they were originally collected in.  

Finding aids are often created to help navigate archival records and can include series and box lists. 

  • Series List – A list of the series within a Collection and their descriptions 
  • Box lists – A detailed list of what is in every box within each series 

Most of our Collections for people or organisations have associated series or box lists. They provide an overview of what’s in a Collection and are a good way to start exploring a Collection. They can also help you find which part of a Collection can aid your research before making an appointment to view the items.

Want more information about using archives for your research?  See our Archival Research Guide.