The majority of items in these collections were either purchased by the State Library and its supporters over many years or donated by countless generous members of the South Australian public.
One of the state’s greatest treasures and the State Library’s oldest ‘book’ is the 13th century Italian Antiphonal purchased by the Friends of the State Library in 1945. Containing music (Gregorian chant) for monastic Christmas services, many of the vellum pages contain capital letters decorated with gold.
This collection contains books, magazines, toys and games played with by South Australian children from European settlement up to the present day. In addition, the collection includes reference material for the study of the long history of every form of literature for children.
Founded by journalist Frances McGuire in memory of her diplomat and former Royal Australian Navy husband Paul McGuire, this collection contains books, maps and archival material about every aspect of the sea and shipping.
The State Library has a magnificent collection of rare books, manuscripts and texts dating from thousands of years ago to the present day. Many generous individuals and the Friends of the State Library have helped create a collection of treasures which reflect the story of book-making and information collecting throughout time.
The Royal Geographical Society library has been housed within the State Library for over 100 years. The collection focus is Australian geography and exploration, but includes items dating back many centuries and is home to the relics of some notable explorers.
The Sir Josiah Symon Library is an example of a 19th-century 'gentleman's library'. In its day one of the best private libraries in Adelaide, it was bequeathed to the State Library in 1935. Due to the COVID-19 regulations, the Symon Library is temporarily closed.
Showcasing the unique treasures of the State Library's collection.
The State Library’s collections relating to wine while naturally concentrating on South Australia also reflect wine growing and production throughout the world and throughout time.
The State Library holds a vast array of named collections such as:
The Adelaide Circulating Library Collection, a large collection of books which were once part of some of the former Institute libraries, are viewable in the Mortlock Chamber and the Circulating Library in the Institute Building.
The Arbon Le-Maistre Collection, a large collection of photographs containing mostly 2oth century ships which carried post World War two migrants to Australia.
The Purches Collection, featuring more than 6000 78RPM recordings of mainly American popular music and jazz from the 1920s to the 1950s.
The Hardy Collection, in 1968 the Chairman of Thomas Hardy and Sons presented to the library the first annual grant for the Thomas Hardy Wine Library.
The Griffin Press Collection, from 1960 to 1990 the Griffin Press, a leading Australian printing firm, presented one copy of most of the books it printed to the State Library.
The Cellarmaster Collection of Rare Wine Books, created by a director of Cellarmaster Wines, this collection is an example of a donation made because of our recognised excellence in this subject. A collection of 900 wine books with strengths in books published before 1800, and in books in languages other than English.
The Queen Adelaide Collection, the volumes in this collection once belonged to Queen Adelaide from 1792 to 1849. This collection was given to Augustus Short, Adelaide's first Anglican bishop, in 1878, who in turn presented the books to the South Australian Institute, a forerunner of the State Library of South Australia.View the guide
For all your research or reference queries our librarians are here to help you!
View our policies, procedures, conditions of use and frequently asked questions about using and accessing our collections.
Did you know that State Library membership is free? Being a State Library members provides you with greater access to the collection. Check out the benefits and sign up for a card today.
How do I get to the State Library by public transport?
The 'State Library, Art Gallery, Museum' tram-stop is just outside the State Library. There are bus stops close by near the War Memorial on North Terrace. The closest train station is the Adelaide city station on North Terrace.
You can plan your journey via Adelaide Metro.
Is there car parking near the State Library?
The nearest car park is Wilson's Adelaide Central car park, 225 North Terrace, next to David Jones.
There is paid metered street parking along Kintore Ave and Victoria Drive.
Where is the wheelchair and stroller access?
Access to the Spence Wing first floor and the Mortlock Chamber is via the lift in the glass foyer entrance of the library.
There is on-street disabled parking available in the nearby roads. View more information and maps of Adelaide City Council's Disability parking for permit holders.
How do I check if the Mortlock Chamber is open when I plan to visit?
You can visit the Mortlock Chamber on the ground floor to look at the exhibition bays. The upper levels of the Mortlock Wing include quiet study areas.
Is there a cafe at the State Library?
Yes, the State Library Cafe is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm and Saturdays from 12 to 4pm.