Sydney Rare Book Week 2023

Join us at the Library to celebrate Sydney Rare Book Week from 23 – 28 October

Sydney Rare Book Week celebrates the importance of special collections, publishing, book production and collecting. This year, the program consists of free talks, workshops and tours run by a range of organisations. Join us at the University of Sydney for:

Object Based Learning with Rare Books

Guided by Leen Rieth, Object Based Learning Coordinator, this workshop will involve a small selection of items from the Rare Books and Special Collections, and will focus on visual literacy and collaboration. 

Book online here

Introduction to Letterpress Printing workshop

Join artist and printer, Brigitta Summers, to work with the Library’s early 19th century Albion printing press, fondly known as the Piscator Press. You will learn about the history of letterpress printing as well as have the opportunity to set some type and print your very own memento to take home. 

Morning session Afternoon session

You can view the full program online, including events by the State Library of NSW, Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, City of Sydney, NSW Guild of Craft Bookbinders, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Moore Theological College, Museums of History NSW, Penrith Museum of Printing.

Sydney Rare Book Fair

Sydney Rare Book Fair will be back at the University of Sydney from 26–28 October 2023. 

Held in our historic MacLaurin Hall, this event brings together Rare Books sellers from across the country. This event is free and open to everyone; come along to view interesting books, prints and ephemera. 

Thursday 26 October: 6-9pm 

Friday 27 October: 10am-5pm 

Saturday 28 October: 10am-4pm 

More info

Open Access Week 2023: Removing barriers to University research

Open Access Week 2023 (23-29 October) is an opportunity to celebrate the advances made in promoting unrestricted access to valuable research and scholarly content.  

One of the key pillars of Open Access (OA) publishing is ensuring that the global community has access to university research. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of Open Access publishing, with a particular focus on how the University of Sydney Library is enabling this through initiatives such as the Sydney eScholarship repository, and supporting Read and Publish agreements with major publishers. 

Read and Publish Agreements: Bridging the Gap 

The University of Sydney Library is enabling Open Access publishing through Read and Publish agreements with major publishers. These agreements represent a significant milestone in making scholarly content freely available.  

The Library supports agreements with publishers (Elsevier, Springer Nature, Wiley, CSIRO, Oxford University Press and others) that cover the costs of both access to institutional subscription journal content and publication of new Open Access articles. All University staff and Higher Degree by Research Students are eligible to publish under the University’s Read and Publish Agreements. To access these agreements, corresponding authors must use their email address and list “The University of Sydney” as their primary affiliation when submitting their article manuscript for publication. 

The Benefits of Open Access Publishing 

Open Access publishing is founded on the principle that research should be freely accessible to anyone, anywhere. The benefits of Open Access publishing are widely known, and include wider accessibility of research to the community, and the benefits that flow from public engagement with research. Open Access has also shown to have a positive role in accelerating innovation and increasing the visibility and citation rates of published work. University of Sydney OA publications are cited at four times the global average, at approximately 32 citations per paper.1 

Sydney eScholarship: Empowering Open Access 

One of the easiest ways of making your research open is to upload it to Sydney eScholarship, the University’s open access repository. Sydney eScholarship provides a platform for uploading and sharing research and a central repository for storing and disseminating research outputs, including articles, theses, and datasets. Sydney eScholarship makes work available through Google Scholar and offers authors access to altmetrics, including views and downloads. 

Sydney eScholarship also includes University theses completed by Higher Degree by Research students at the University of Sydney, raising the visibility and accessibility of their research. 

Digital Collections: Making our Rare and Special Collections Open Access 

The Library is dedicated to digitising and making free and open to the public our rare books and special collections. Items from Virginia Woolf’s annotated personal copy of The Voyage Out, to medieval and early modern books, to photographs of the Sydney Harbour Bridge construction are now online for the first time, and available through Digital Collections, where they can be viewed and used by people from around the world.  

Support from the Library 

The Library supports a range of pathways towards a more equitable and open publishing landscape. To learn more about Open Access, the Read and Publish agreements, or how you or a group of researchers can take full advantage of the benefits of open publishing, get in touch with our Academic Liaison Librarian team. You can also check out our online resources on Open Access and the Strategic Publishing Toolkit

As we celebrate Open Access Week 2023, it is essential to recognise the tremendous benefits of Open Access research made possible by initiatives such as Sydney eScholarship and Read and Publish agreements, ensuring that valuable research is accessible to all. 

New images added to the Berckelman collection

Sydney Harbour Bridge at night. View on Digital Collections

We’re thrilled to be adding another batch of images to the already established Berckelman collection in our Digital Collections.

It was our Rare Books and Special Collections librarians who initially made us aware of this intriguing collection back in 2019. The Berckelman collection’s 573 glass plate negatives were collected between 1920 – 1935 by Collin B. Berckelman (1907-1965) and are archived in our Rare Books and Special Collections.  

All the glass plate negatives were digitised by an external vendor before we worked to provide accurate and consistent descriptions for each image. We made the first batch of images available in our Digital Collections in July 2022 and have just added 126 new images to the collection.

This is a treasure-trove of beautiful landscapes and scenery from the Islands of the Pacific and New South Wales national parks. The latest upload comprises pictures from the construction of Sydney Harbour Bridge and its historic opening celebrations. There are also numerous images from Norfolk Island, including ones of St Barnabas Chapel and its beautiful stained-glass windows and of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Australian Convict Site, Kingston.

You can choose to browse the entire Berckelman collection, or visit a curated collection, which organises images by the collection’s main subjects. Currently one curated collection is available, containing images related to Norfolk Island. More curated collections are still to come.

We would love to receive suggestions for other curated collections you would like to see. We’re also asking for your help in identifying people, places and events, so if you have more information about any of the images in the collection, please send it through to:   

First train from Sydney railway station (4 August 1906). View on Digital Collections

Closing up the arches of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, 1930. View on Digital Collections

Handwritten correspondence, possibly addressed to Don Miguel Ricardo de Alava. Written in London 13 April 1831. View on Digital Collections.

We are inviting people to click the ‘Text’ button to the left of image to see a transcript and log in with UniKey details if there is a correction needed. Alternatively, you can contact us at to make suggestions. 

Houses and pastures at Kingston, Norfolk Island. View the Norfolk Island sub-collection

The original Rag & Famish Hotel on the corner of Miller and Berry Street, St Leonards (now North Sydney). It was first established in 1860 and is the oldest pub in North Sydney still standing (photograph by Dr Robert Ward). View on Digital Collections

Exhibition – Fisher Library Art Boxes

The Art Box spaces in Fisher Library are currently housing unique pieces in collaboration with Verge Gallery. Ensure you visit the spaces on levels 2, 3 and 4 of Fisher Library. 

Art Box Level 2: Bonnie Huang 

Drain catcher 

Amongst the sticky sinews of time and memory, a sense of absence and longing pervades. This sculptural landscape is an exploration into the textures of both private and collective desire, creating a space of elegiac reflection for people and memories of the past. Here, the idea of archive or library refers to the dismembered domestic and bodily artefacts that amalgamate into one— much like how a clogged drain is a collection of tangible mementos left by people from the past.   

Art Box Level 3: Emily Greenwood 

O maluʻi ʻa Tupou 

Ancestral pride with a twist of punk! 
Taking direct influence from the Sex Pistols God Save the Queen, Emily Greenwood’s O’ malu’i ‘a Tupou has used a Tongan flag to showcase their identity as a Tongan feminist punk. 
A flag represents who you are, and with this piece Emily Greenwood blends influences of punk, queer art, drag, patriotism and humourist slogans like ‘oku ‘ikai ke u lava ‘o lea faka- Tongan’ (English translation: ‘I can’t speak Tongan’) or ‘liliu mei he Google’ (English translation: ‘Translated from Google’) to represent who they are and to unravel ancestral histories through their postcolonial lens. 

Art Box Level 4: Ali Noble & Brigitta Summers 

The plants, the press and the process 

This trio of works is a semi-collaborative piece by two artists, working individually and as one with each piece being inspired by the flora encountered at Sydney University. The first two pieces were created individually by each artist while the third was a collaborative exercise. Here you see the influences and interplay of Modernism, plant aesthetics and ‘thinking through touch’. 

2023 Printer in Residence

Mickie Quick has been breathing new life into the Fisher Library printing workshop as our latest Printer in Residence. 

Fisher Library is the home to an Albion letterpress printer, purchased by the Library in the early 1960s, and affectionately known as the Piscator Press.  

The Printer in Residence program was introduced in 2018 with the goal of increasing awareness of the Piscator Press and to encourage an ongoing enthusiasm for letterpress and book arts within the University.  

Mickie Quick began his residency at the start of Semester 2, 2023. Mickie’s residency has included multiple Open Studio Sessions for the University community which have proved to be very popular. The Open Studio Sessions saw staff and students get a hands-on lesson on how the printer works with demonstrations from Mickie and the opportunity to use the press themselves. 

These sessions also gave Mickie the opportunity to touch on his own printing project, a project which sees him examine the history of progressive political text and images on campus by delving into the rich archives of Honi Soit, to create a series of prints that reflect and build on the history of activism on campus. 

I am very excited to be working with an historic print methodology on campus — letterpress printing with the Albion — and using it to create new prints that will come from a process of looking deeply into another longstanding print tradition at the University of Sydney — the publication of Honi Soit, and its role in political activism on campus

Mickie Quick

Mickie Quick’s residency in Fisher Library ends on 13 October 2023. 

Indigenous Placemaking Artwork

Image credit: 'Yanhambabirra Burambabirra Yalbailinya' (Come, Share and Learn), 2020 by Luke Penrith for the One Sydney Many People Strategy.
Image credit: 'Yanhambabirra Burambabirra Yalbailinya' (Come, Share and Learn), 2020 by Luke Penrith for the One Sydney Many People Strategy.

The University of Sydney Library is commissioning an Indigenous placemaking artwork to be displayed in our physical and digital library spaces.

The University of Sydney Library is committed to promoting, foregrounding, and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural knowledges and practices. As part of this, we are seeking to commission an Indigenous placemaking artwork that will connect our digital and physical spaces to Country. This creative work will facilitate visual storytelling to support an environment where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, students, and community members feel safe, seen, respected, and valued.

For the Terms and Conditions and to submit your expression of interest here.

Expressions of Interest close on September 15, 2023.

Image credit: ‘Yanhambabirra Burambabirra Yalbailinya’ (Come, Share and Learn), 2020 by Luke Penrith for the One Sydney Many People Strategy.