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 Library 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 this online form.

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.

  • Read more about the collection areas
  • Contact Rare Books Collection staff to receive updates about our exhibitions.

Special Collections materials

Special Collections materials are currently unavailable for booking or viewing until further notice. The Library has taken this step as an important measure in preventing the spread of COVID-19, as well as the complexities we face in maintaining strict hygiene around the handling of these fragile materials.