Schaeffer Fine Arts Library

Opening hours

Monday to Friday, 9am–1pm & 2pm-5pm (closed 1pm–2pm)

Clients must observe all University of Sydney Covid-19 Safety protocols when using the library.

Please call the library on 9351 2148 if you require assistance.


One of the leading art reference libraries in Australia

The Schaeffer Fine Arts Library is one of the leading art libraries in Australia. It is known for the academic quality and breadth of its holdings, which incorporate the Power Research Collection and the Power Visual Resources Collection. Housed within the RC Mills Building on the University of Sydney campus, and supported by the Power Institute, this specialist reference-only library is open on weekdays to students and the public.

The Collection

The library’s collection comprises approximately 150,000 items including books, journals, exhibition catalogues, dissertations and visual media.  The collection subject scope encompasses the history of the visual arts with a particular focus on modern and contemporary artists and movements, art of the Asia-Pacific region, and Australian indigenous art.  The collection includes works on semiotics, philosophy, cultural studies, museum and gallery curation, architecture, literature, photography and cinema. The library also holds part of the personal archives of Emeritus Professor Bernard Smith and the archives of the Sherman Gallery.

Most of the collection can be searched via the University of Sydney Library online catalogue.

Library Catalogue


Allen, Jack & Cottier architects designed the library space as a synthesis of modernist and humanist ideals, and the design was awarded the Royal Australian Institute of Architects 2002 Award for Interior Architecture.

Large windows and high ceilings in the main reading area create a light and airy environment with a vista over the tennis courts and playing fields of The Square. The mezzanine study areas are naturally lit by skylights and dedicated areas on this level are provided for digital media viewing, rare books and materials relating to Japanese art. A research room is set aside for the use of postgraduate students and visiting scholars, and public computers are also available on this level.

The library is closely associated with the Department of Art History and provides specific materials and facilities for students undertaking related courses.

Often singled out by students as the ‘most beautiful library on campus’, Schaeffer Library is staffed by subject specialist librarians, and funded by contributions from the Power Endowment to ensure availability of the latest catalogues, monographs and theoretical texts in the visual arts.

Using the Library

  • The library is open to all university staff and students, and the general public.
  • Schaeffer Library is a reference only library – borrowing is not permitted.
  • The library is a facility for quiet private research only – group discussion areas are not available.
  • Please switch all mobile devices to silent mode when in the library – do not make or receive voice calls.
  • Please do not bring food and drinks into the library (allowance is made for bottled water and beverages in resealable containers).