Friends of the Library Exhibition: 60 Years of Friendship

The exhibition displays collection items that showcase the generosity, dedication and ongoing support from the Friends of the University of Sydney Library. 

Founded in 1961-1962, Friends of the University of Sydney Library was formed in Australia. It has diligently supported the Library’s interests in the promotion and purchase of rare scholarly materials for the past 60 years. From medieval illuminated manuscripts to seminal mathematical and medical texts, and Australian private press publications, the scope and quantity of supported collection acquisitions has been extensive.

Over the years, the Friends has supported not just the purchase of Rare and Special Collections materials but has also commemorated significant collecting milestones at the Library, and supported conservation and collection stewardship activities, ensuring collections survive to support future generations of students and researchers. In 2022, the Friends of the Library also funded the Library’s Printer in Residence program.

Various items from the Friends of the Library 60th Anniversary exhibition, Rare Books & Special Collections Library

This exhibition pays homage to the Friends of the University of Sydney Library and celebrates its legacy through the significant, synergistic relationship with Rare Books and Special Collections at the University Library. As Sir Normand MacLaurin (Chancellor) remarked on the occasion of the opening of the original Fisher Library in 1909, “This generation will soon pass away but the torch of learning will be handed down by the influence of this great library to generation after generation of Australian scholars.” Those words ring true as clearly today as they did then, and the Library is indebted to the Friends for its enduring support.

Friends of the Library 60th Anniversary Exhibition Launch

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Friends of the Library coincided with the launch of the Friends of the Library 60th Anniversary Exhibition launch.

The launch included guest speakers on the history of the Friends, as well as insights into the exhibition’s collections.

‘I Conduct, Therefore I Am’ Research Exhibition

Illustrations by Maggie McMahon

9 August – 9 October | Conservatorium of Music Library 

Playing on René Descartes famous expression ‘I think, therefore I am’, Nicky Gluch’s PhD research contemplates what it means to be a conductor. 

Gluch explores this question by interrogating the influence of Descartes’ philosophy on Western society alongside the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza, opening up an alternate way of thinking about the relationship between the mind and body, and leaders and followers. The aim of Gluch’s work is to show that leadership does not need to be hierarchical but can rather be relational – an idea of relevance both on and off the podium.

A challenge of theoretical research is that it is often highly conceptual and as such Gluch commissioned illustrator Maggie McMahon to depict 10 key concepts from her work. These illustrations encapsulate five themes, paired with five figures, to tell a story about music leadership:

  • Text Descartes
  • Breath  Adam (Genesis)
  • Bodies Felix Mendelssohn
  • Space Richard Wagner
  • Unity Spinoza.

The five figures will be brought to life with examples of scores and other texts from the Library and Rare Books & Special Collections. 

Learn more about Nicky’s research through this recent article published in Fine Music Magazine, July 2022

You can also be part of the conversation about what it means to be a conductor by following #sydneyconresearch #orchestralconductor through August and September 2022.

A selection of illustrations by Maggie McMahon

Exhibition Talk with Illustrator
Maggie McMahon

The Conservatorium of Music Library hosted a conversation between Nicky Gluch and illustrator Maggie McMahon to discuss how Nicky’s research was translated into these illustrations for the exhibition.

You can watch the entire conversation on the Library’s Instagram Live here.

Rare Bites: Codex Angus: A Twelfth Century Byzantine Lectionary

Come and join Dr Doru Costache as he discusses his research on early medieval Lectionary from the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Come and join Dr Doru Costache, the inaugural Selby Old Fellow in the University Library’s Rare Books and Special Collection, as he discusses his research on an early medieval Lectionary from the Eastern Orthodox Church, purported to have been written in one of the scriptoria of Constantinople around the twelfth century. Come along and hear some fascinating insights into this unique and complex manuscript and see it on display.

All welcome!

Please note – this lecture is being videoed and the video will be available on the Library’s YouTube channel.

Speaker Bio

After nine years of assistant lectureship in the University of Bucharest’s Faculty of Orthodox Theology, since 2005 Associate Professor Doru Costache works at the Sydney College of Divinity, where he teaches for two member institutions, Nisibis and St Cyril’s, and offers supervision via the Graduate Research School. He is the first recipient of the Selby Old Fellowship in Religious History of the Orthodox Christian Faith at the University of Sydney’s Fisher Library (2021-2022). He also is an honorary associate of Studies in Religion, School of Humanities, at the University of Sydney (since 2017).

Disability Inclusion Week: 12-16 September 2022

The University of Sydney Library celebrates Disability Inclusion Week!

The theme for 2022 is Celebrating Excellence. We’ve compiled a Read, Watch, Listen list for learning more about what it’s like to live with disability, focusing on people’s achievements, as well as a list of further resources to help you get involved.


Eliza Hull

What is it Like Being a Parent with a Disability? Watch online

When ABC producer Eliza Hull became pregnant with her daughter, she took a crash course in parenting. 7.30, ABC TV, aired 3 December 2018. Running time: 5 min.

Never Needed Fixing Read online

It took a while – and involved wearing thick long pants on schoolday summers – but now Eliza Hull recognises her disability as one of her greatest qualities.
Eliza Hull, The Big Issue Australia, 2021 (628), p 18–19.

Eliza Hull: On Breaking the Stigma Around Disability Listen online

Musician, journalist and writer Eliza Hull talks to Cheryl Akle about her journey into motherhood, and her experiences living with a disability. Her book We’ve Got This, the first major anthology of stories written by parents with disabilities, is out now.

Stories Behind the Story: Better Reading podcast, aired 25 April 2022. Running time: 27 min

Kurt Fearnley AO

Kurt Fearnley’s One Plus One: Series 2021 Watch online

Kurt Fearnley talks to some well-known Australians who have faced challenges and setbacks in their lives, only to overcome them and go on to make a real difference. What drives them and what does it take to reach their goals?

One Plus One, ABC TV, aired 2021. Running time: 27 min

Kurt Fearnley Talks About What Drives Him Watch online

Kurt Fearnley talks with Allianz, a supporter of the Australian Paralympic Committee, about what drives him and what it takes to succeed on and off the track.
Australian Paralympic Team, YouTube, 28 October 2011. Running time: 4 min

Carly Findlay OAM

Growing Up Disabled in Australia Read online

Growing Up Disabled in Australia is the fifth book in the highly acclaimed, bestselling Growing Up series. It includes interviews with prominent Australians such as Senator Jordon Steele-John and Paralympian Isis Holt, poetry and graphic art, as well as more than 40 original pieces by writers with a disability or chronic illness.

Carly Findlay (ed.), Growing Up Disabled in Australia. Melbourne: Black Inc., 2021.

Say Hello Read online

‘There are very few stories where the character that looks different is the hero of the story. I’ve been the hero of my story – telling it on my own terms, proud about my facial difference and disability, not wanting a cure for my rare, severe and sometimes confronting skin condition, and knowing that I am beautiful even though I don’t have beauty privilege.’

Carly Findlay, Say Hello: How I Became my own Fangirl; A Memoir and Manifesto on Difference, Acceptance, Self-love and Belief. Sydney: HarperCollins, 2019.

Alice Wong

Disability Visibility: First-person Stories from the Twenty-first Century Read online

A ground-breaking collection of first-person writing on the joys and challenges of the modern disability experience, Disability Visibility brings together the voices of activists, authors, lawyers, politicians, artists and everyday people whose daily lives are, in the words of playwright Neil Marcus, “an art . . . an ingenious way to live”.

Alice Wong (ed.), Disability Visibility: First-person Stories from the Twenty-first Century. New York: Vintage Books, 2020.

Interview with Alice Wong on the Disability Visibility Podcast Listen online

In-depth interviews and discussions with leaders and creators from the disability community, on disability identity, culture, activism and politics, with an emphasis on intersections of disability and race, gender, sexuality and other marginalised identities.

Alice Wong, Disability Visibility Project podcast, Running time: approx. 40 min


Apps for Accessibility

Check out this comprehensive set of links to connect University staff and students with apps available on the market that may assist people with disability or chronic illness.


Access, inclusion and diversity are at the heart of the work we do at University of Sydney Library. We seek to inspire a love of learning in order to advance the academic potential in everyone. We are committed to providing all staff and students the opportunity to get involved and build a stronger understanding of the challenges people face when living with disability. The Library provides many events, services and resources to ensure everyone feels welcome and has equal opportunity to study, learn, teach and research at the University of Sydney.

Clients with Disability

Pop over to the Library webpage devoted to helping the community understand and connect with Library and University accessibility support services.

R U OK? Day

This Thursday, 8 September is R U OK? Day!

It’s a national day of action, to remind ourselves that every day is the day to ask, “are you OK?” if someone in your world is struggling with life’s ups and downs.

This year it’s more important than ever to check in with our friends and colleagues. There are some great activities you can join in through the University and lots of online resources to help you have those conversations with people around you.

R U OK? Day Activities and Initiatives

The University and Library have organised events to help facilitate conversations and support the student and staff communities:

The R U OK? Day official website guides you through the steps you can take in starting a conversation and then how you can respond if that person needs help. There are also Zoom backgrounds and posters to download.

Celebrating Wear it Purple Day 2022 on August 26!

August 26 is Wear it Purple Day! The University of Sydney celebrates this event annually to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people.

The Wear it Purple Day movement was founded in 2010 following several rainbow young people taking their own lives following bullying and harassment resulting from the lack of acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity. Wear it Purple has developed into an international movement, with new generations continuing to be dedicated to promoting the annually expressing support and solidarity with rainbow young people.

The Library’s visible support for LGBTQIA+ students and colleagues on Wear it Purple Day includes a fabulous purple VIP welcome carpet at the entrance of Fisher Library, decoration of all Library service points with purple regalia, frontline staff wearing official Wear it Purple Day t-shirts, and all staff being encouraged to dress up in their finest purple attire. We will also have special giveaways for clients on the day, including pronoun badges and Wear it Purple bookmarks.

There are many ways you can show your support for the LGBTQIA+ community on Wear it Purple Day. Here are some helpful resources:

Display the official WiP Day background in Zoom meetings.

Print out WiP Day posters and cards for your work area or friends.

Display the official WiP Day collateral on your social pages.

Have some fun with this printable Instagram frame.

Check out the videos about Wear it Purple.

Learn more about using inclusive language and avoiding misgendering.