Between 10 pm Saturday, 11 July and 1 am Sunday, 12 July (AEST) access to the Manuscripts, Oral History and Pictures catalogue and the viewing of digitised items will be temporarily unavailable. We apologise for any inconvenience.


The Library's reading rooms are open. Before you visit, please read Visiting the Library. 

Foundation digital projects

The Library's extensive and innovative digital story collections have been created with the help of many Foundation partners

The Discover Collections

Girl holding up tablet to picture of flower from behind

As early as 2001, the Library had a vision to create an innovative and interactive online portal to enable universal access to the Library’s rich historic collections of national significance (including manuscripts, photographs, journals, letters, paintings etc.).  A project – Discover Collections (originally called – was created as a vehicle to raise funds to facilitate this vision. Without any government funding, the Foundation implemented a fundraising strategy to source financial and in-kind support from a diverse range of benefactors, both corporate and private foundations and individual philanthropists to meet an ambitious digitisation target. 

From 2004-2013 the Discover Collections program was realised with over 35 amazing stories liberated from the Library’s vast collections.  These online collections “from the vaults to the people” give a virtual tour of significant and unusual stories and have proven to be of great resource for students and researchers.  

The sheer size of the Discover Collections is truly impressive and so digital migration is an ongoing work in progress. Of the Discover Collections some material has already been moved across into Stories.

The Discover Collections include:

History of our nation

This is an unrivalled collection of journals, logbooks, letters, paintings, drawings and books documenting the experiences and achievements of the first British settlement in Australia:

  • Australian agricultural and rural life.  Supported by Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
  • Macquarie Era.  Supported by Macquarie Group Foundation
  • Voyages of Discovery – the Great South Land.  Supported by Bruce & Joy Reid Foundation
  • From Terra Australis to Australia.  Supported by John T Reid Charitable Trusts Thyne Reid Foundation
  • Exploration – trailblazing The Australian interior.  Supported by Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
  • Indigenous Australians.  Supported by Rio Tinto & The Rio Tinto Aboriginal Foundation
  • Aviation in Australia.  Supported by Qantas
  • Sir William Dixson Map Collection.  Supported by various benefactors
  • Eureka! The rush for gold.  Supported by St Barbara Limited
  • The Wallis Album.  Supported by Noble Group
  • Religion, Church & Missions in Australia.  Supported by Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
  • Sir Thomas Mitchell.  Supported by The Institute of Surveyors NSW Inc – Seniors Group
  • Law & Justice in Australia. Supported by Public Purpose Fund(The Law Society of NSW), Allens Arthur Robinson, Clayton Utz, Gilbert & Tobin Lawyers, Henry Davis York Lawyers, Freehills

Our Natural World

Through a variety of images, stories and documents discover the rich and unique environment which fascinated the European settlers and continues to challenge and influence us today:

  • Antarctica: early adventures.  Supported by various benefactors
  • Hurley’s Antarctica.  Supported by Graham & Charlene Bradley Foundation
  • Antarctica: modern adventures.  Supported by Anonymous
  • Botanica: Illustrating the exotic.  Supported by Geoffrey & Rachel O’Conor
  • TAL & Dai-ichi Life Derby Collection.  Supported by TAL & Dai-Ichi Life

People & Places

Discover the history of a specific region and the people who made it. Take a look into the lives of rural and urban families, who settled in various regions across New South Wales

  • Caergwrle, Allynbrook.  Supported by Peter Hunt AM
  • Looking East – Darling Point & beyond.  Supported by Belinda Hutchinson AM & Roger Massy-Greene
  • Looking North – Sydney’s Upper North Shore.  Supported by Geoffrey & Rachel O’Conor

Society, Art & Culture

Through the Library's significant collections, these stories trace the development of a unique Australian culture, enriched by immigration from all over the world

  • Photography: Holtermann collection.  Supported by Various Benefactors
  • Australian Jewish Community & its Culture.  Supported by Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce
  • Cricket in Australia.  Supported by Sir Ron Brierley
  • French in Australia.  Supported by Accor Hotels & Resorts
  • Day at the races: the horse in Australia. Supported by Arrowfield Stud
  • Australian Iconic Authors: Henry Lawson.  Supported by Curtis & Massy-Greene Families in recognition of “Faces in the Street” - St Vincent’s Urban Mental Health Research Institute
  • Architecture: nineteenth century Sydney.  Supported by Anonymous
  • Architecture: temples of commerce.  Supported by Woodhead International
  • Architecture: the arrival of modernism. Supported by Design Inc
  • Shipboard: the nineteenth century emigrant experience.  Supported by Robert John Pritchard
  • Harry Seidler Collection.  Supported by Penelope Seidler AM & the late Harry Seidler AC OBE
  • Australian Iconic Authors: May Gibbs.  Supported by Various benefactors
  • Photography: Allen Family Albums. Supported by various benefactors 
  • Photography: Sydney Exposed.  Supported by Moran Health Care Group