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Rare Books Collection

Rare Books collection

The Rare Books Collection comprises materials considered rare because of age, uniqueness or physical beauty.

The collection was founded in 1961 - the year Monash University opened - when the University Librarian purchased a collection of early edition works by Jonathan Swift and some of his contemporaries. There are now over 100,000 items in the collection, including a number of special collection areas. Find out more about our collection through our Rare Books Library guide.

Collection strengths

The collection is particularly strong in English literature and history produced between 1660 and 1800. There are also collection strengths in French literature and Australiana.

The collection grows through selection of materials by Rare Books librarians as well as donations, in line with the library's collection development policy. Larger donations can be made under the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program. Financial donations are encouraged and welcomed through the University's Giving To Monash initiative.

Several exhibitions featuring fragile and valuable materials from the collection are hosted each year in the Sir Louis Matheson Library. These exhibitions enable the Library to share a wide variety of rare items with scholars, students and the general public, exposing the depth of the collection.

Special Collections Reading Room

Ground Level, ISB Wing
Sir Louis Matheson Library
40 Exhibition Walk
Clayton VIC 3168

Open Monday to Friday 9 am - 5 pm

A reading room for researchers supported by a team of Rare Books librarians, is provided. Please contact staff in advance to arrange access to materials from the collection.


Items in the Rare Books Collection may not be borrowed but are available for use in the Special Collections Reading Room. To view materials from the Collection ask for assistance at the Special Collections service point.

Photocopying can be arranged, depending on the extent of the copying required and the condition of the book.