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Virtual reading room

Experience extraordinary rare and special collections remotely

Over the last few years, libraries worldwide considered new ways of providing access to items not available for loan or digitised. One emerging service, a Virtual Reading Room (VRR), uses special cameras and video conferencing to provide remote access to our special collections, making our Rare Books and Special Collections more accessible.

How it works

The Virtual Reading Room appointments are free and run for one hour. Bookings are required at least two working days in advance. Once we have confirmed the requested items are suited to the service, you will be emailed a Zoom link.

Items you can request

For your session, you can request items from Rare Books and Special collections including:

  • One boxed collection from Rare Books and Special Collections
  • Or, two items from the Rare Books and Special Collections – this could be a book, manuscript, script, photographs, glass negatives, or ephemera.

You cannot request:

  • Videos, audio recordings, CD-ROMS or floppy disks
  • Items still under copyright, including theses

What will you discover?

If you’re interested in using the Virtual Reading Room, but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few suggestions from our collections:

  • Discovery of Witchcraft – one of our Treasures from the Occult Sciences, demonology and witchcraft collection, published between 1520 and 1999
  • Acciaioli historia fiorentina – an illuminated copy of the history of the Florentine people, published in 1476
  • al-Tashrih bi al-Taswir - An illustrated treatise on human anatomy and one of the earliest known texts to include a coloured atlas of the human body in the Arabic world

See Rare Books and Special collections

The Virtual Reading Room pilot is part of a wider project with the International Academic Research Library Association (IARLA) in partnership with fellow Pacific Rim Research Library Association (PRRLA) member, the University of Melbourne. Both libraries will gather feedback on their services to assess the future of Virtual Reading Rooms in our libraries.

Get in touch

If you you have any questions or feedback about this project, please contact us.

Make a booking

Contact the Library

You can email the Virtual Reading Room team directly at

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have died.

The University of Sydney Library acknowledges that its facilities sit on the ancestral lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have for thousands of generations exchanged knowledge for the benefit of all. Learn more