Rare Books & Special Collections New Virtual Reading Room

Introducing the Library’s new Virtual Reading Room and Teaching Space.

The Library is excited to announce that we will be launching a pilot Virtual Reading Room (VRR) service in July 2022 that will run for six months within our Rare Books and Special Collections library. This service uses special cameras and video conferencing (like Zoom or Teams), to provide remote access to our special collections.

Interested people can book online at least two days in advance of the session, and we’ll work with you to make sure we’re able to give you the best experience possible. With this pilot, we’re looking forward to finding out more about how we can better support clients with accessibility needs, those who cannot travel to the Library, or who would prefer to interact with Rare Books and Special Collections in their own space.

We will have more info soon on our Rare Book & Special Collections page, so watch this space!


What is a Virtual Reading Room?
Virtual Reading Rooms provide clients with real-time access to our unique and distinctive collections which are not loanable and have not been digitised. VRRs emerged as a service during COVID restrictions. VRRs use visualisers and online video conferencing platforms to provide a surrogate research experience for initial scoping of collections prior to digitisation, or as a surrogate for in-person research.

What is a Virtual Teaching Space?
A Virtual Teaching Space is very similar to a Virtual Reading Room and often uses the same equipment. Instead of being a one-on-one interaction, it is a part of object or collections-based learning and is most frequently one-to-many, with an expert delivering the session to an audience, and that allows for live interaction between audience and object. Virtual Teaching Spaces are used to make object-based learning available remotely and allow for teaching about our collections in ways that cannot happen with image-based digitisation.

Equipment for the VRR/VTS service
There are several ways of equipping a VRR service, ranging from a smartphone taped to a homemade stand through to high end visualisers costing tens of thousands of dollars with discrete lighting systems.

After examining the equipment currently used by colleagues in Northern Hemisphere libraries, we have made the decision to run the pilot service with an IPEVO VZ-X visualiser (right). We have selected this equipment as it has best fit with our user stories, is priced well, and has plug and play functionality.

Low end prototype VRR (Yale)
High end VRR (University of Manchester)
IPEVO VZ-X visualiser

Library Online Service Announcement: Planned Maintenance on Sunday, 3 July 2022

This scheduled maintenance is to improve and ensure a better experience for all users of library online services.

A scheduled outage is planned on Sunday, 3 July 2022 from 2 am to 2 pm (AEST), affecting certain library online services such as Library Search and Reading Lists, both on the Library website and app. Databases and room bookings will still be available during this period. 

In order to ensure our library community is well informed, we have compiled a list of popular questions to ensure everyone is properly prepared.


Q: Will I be able to access my Library account during the outage?
A: You will not be able to sign into Library Search to access your library account details. Your loans, requests, saved searches and collection will be retained.

Q: Will I be able to borrow physical items during the outage?
A: Yes, you will be able to borrow physical items and check them out with the Library’s self-check-out machines.

Q: How can I access online resources during the outage?
A: While Library Search is unavailable, you may go directly to our Databases page to access online resources.

Q: Will my links still work?
A: Links with AP01 in the URL will no longer work after the outage.  Clicking on the outdated link will redirect you to a page with the new URL. Make sure that you update any saved links to the new one. This is temporary and you will only need to do this once.

Q: Will Reading List CiteIt still work?
A: The CiteIt bookmarklet in your browser may stop working after the migration and you may need to reinstall CiteIt.

For any questions about the scheduled outage, please contact the Library or send an email to Kriselda Samson, Manager of Digital Services at kriselda.samson@sydney.edu.au

FREE COFFEE by participating in our digital survey!

Participate in our survey to help our digital project and get a FREE COFFEE on us!

The Digital Presence Project is a multi-year Library project to review and update the Library’s digital content, including the Library’s website and content across other University platforms. Help test the proposed information architecture by completing a short, online activity and get a FREE COFFEE on us when you complete the survey!

🔗 For Coursework Students click here http://tinyurl.com/f8dk2naz

🔗 For Research Students click here http://tinyurl.com/4rzwkt8n

Fisher Library rooftop terrace to re-open after 30 years

View of the cityscape. Photography by Nicola Bailey

After more than 30 years, The University of Sydney Library will reopen the rooftop terrace at Fisher Library to all of its library community.

The rooftop terrace, which looks out to an incredible view of both the campus and the cityscape, was part of the original design when Fisher Library opened in 1963 on its current site. While students and staff enjoyed the incredible outdoor space for many years, unfortunately, the area was later closed due to compliance and safety regulations.

Image of University's VIce-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott and University Librarian Philip Kent

After a Honi Soit article that revolved around the terrace, interest to reopen the space began to grow. This led the University’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott, to visit the rooftop with University Librarian Philip Kent.

With the support of the Vice-Chancellor, plans are now being propelled to have the terrace redeveloped later this year, allowing safe access to the terrace for the University and Library community.

While the final plans for the terrace have yet to be confirmed, the refurbishment will likely involve repairs to the roof and updating the rooftop to be compliant with current building codes. This also involves installations of ramp access, shade, outdoor furniture and plants. Access will be made available from the fifth floor of the library.

“We all know that university life is about so much more than what you learn in a classroom,” said Professor Scott. “The Fisher Library terrace will be a place to socialise, think and relax. It will make an important contribution to our community.

“Our first priority is to get the terrace in shape for students to be able to use it again. Down the track, it would be wonderful to be able to use it as an event space for our University community from time to time.”

“We can’t wait to welcome staff and students back to the rooftop terrace,” said University Librarian Philip Kent. “The timing is yet to be finalised but we are working towards a plan to reopen in 2023. 

“The library is such an important part of the University experience. We are here to help students with their studies, but we also want to enhance student life and wellbeing by providing inspirational communal spaces and amenities.”

Fisher Library terrace in the 1960s

Exam Ready: Sail through your exams

The Library with University is getting ready to launch our Exam Ready program for Semester 1, with a wide range of study and support events to help you to manage stress and achieve your best in the upcoming assessment period. Here are six things to check out at the Library’s Exam Ready program, May 30 to June 19.

Check out our Exam Ready programs

Focus & Study! 

Join the Library’s Peer Learning Advisors (PLAs) for Focus & Study! Our workshop where we cover different study methods, and practice the Pomodoro Technique – proven to help beat procrastination and get the most out of your study time. Bring along that assignment, those revision notes and anything else you need to work through your tasks, and let our PLA coach you through two hours of quiet, effective study with timed breaks.

Assignment support 

Drop right into a session and chat to a librarian that supports your Faculty or School. Get help with troubleshooting problems with finding, evaluating, or referencing quality articles or evidence.

Mindful movements Let’s face it, the exam period is super stressful and it can all feel too much. An expert clinician from Student Counselling Services will guide you through different mindfulness-based practices. Press pause and rest, while gaining strategies to manage your stress

Wellbeing initiatives

We know it’s a challenging time. Come into the Library and check out the Chill Out Zones at Fisher Library, SciTech, Susan Wakil Health Building Library and the Con. Take time out to relax, you can even take a ‘gram and tag us. Study and stay cool.

Keep Calm and Keep Posting

Head over to this online social wall to share your positive vibes, motivational music, inspirational study break views and everything else that is helping you get through the end-of-semester stress. See it in our spaces on the ThinkSpace wall!

The Library has partnered with batyr to share some great wellbeing resources too!

You can ask that!

Worried something might happen on the day of your exam?

Post your questions on slido and ask the SRC and SUPRA anything you want to know about: academic appeals, special consideration, academic misconduct & dishonesty allegations.

The Digital Presence Project Update

The ​Digital Presence Project​ is a multi-year Library project to review and update the Library’s digital content, including the Library’s website and content across other University platforms.

What is currently happening in the project?

We have completed extensive research into the digital presence’s current state, client needs and organisational workflows and have now reached one of the key consultation and testing stages of the project.

These stages are fundamental to the success of the project as they ensure that our users will easily be able to discover content, services, and resources of interest to them within the newly designed website. 

How can I get involved?

We want to test the concept of information architecture with students, staff and members of the community over the coming weeks. 

You can help us refine the concept information architecture and inform the architecture of the Library website by completing a short survey (10-15 minutes).

Links to the survey for different demographic groups are below:

Where can I find more information about this project?

For more information, see the Library Digital Presence project page on the Library website. You can also get in contact with a member of the DPP Project Team if you have questions about the project or the testing process:

  • Maddie Wilson – Project Manager
  • Kate Stanton – Project Lead
  • Heidi Laidler – Experience Design Specialist