Teaching with Special Collections

We work with you to provide tailored in-person or online options to engage and deepen disciplinary expertise and critical thinking skills. 

View a curated selection of our rare and special collections, including:

  • Medieval manuscripts
  • Medieval and Early Modern printed books
  • the East Asian collection
  • colonial Australian collections
  • author’s manuscripts and personal correspondence
  • science fiction collections
  • detective fiction collection
  • fine printing and bindings
  • modern limited editions
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources
  • University of Sydney authors collection
  • University of Sydney print publications and ephemera.

Academic-led classes

If you would like to access Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) materials for a unit of study, class or assignment, we can assist with item selection and class logistics.

Did you know for example, that you could incorporate a print demonstration on our 1879 Albion Letterpress!

  • Email Rare Books and Special Collections to discuss how materials could be integrated into your unit.
  • Book a consultation with a RBSC Librarian to help you assess the most relevant options. (LINK)

Library-led classes

Object Based Learning involves direct engagement with artefacts, artworks, archival material, and digitised versions of these materials. Our students are guided through activities that develop skills in contextual analysis, interdisciplinary research, and peer-to-peer learning.

By developing these skills, Object Based Learning can enhance understanding and engagement with major subject areas.

Object Based Learning sessions may include:

  • direct engagement with objects to understand their make and materials
  • discussing the provenance of objects to learn about and critique primary sources, authorship, historical canons, and knowledge sharing
  • opportunities to consider the value and significance of objects within historical and present-day contexts
  • challenging assumptions and motivating students to explore new hypotheses through experiential learning 
  • promoting observation, critical analysis, interpretation and creative problem-solving.  

Using digitised content in your unit of study

You can request digitisation of Rare Books and Special Collections items for your unit of study. Requests for digitisation must be made by email to rbsc@usyd.libanswers.com at least one month before the start of semester.

Resources for teaching