Schaeffer Fine Arts Library

Opening hours

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

Schaeffer Library is currently opening with reduced hours and staff.

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

Please call the library on 9351 2148 for further assistance.

One of the leading art reference libraries in Australia

Designed by architects Allen, Jack & Cottier, the Schaeffer Fine Arts Library is one of the leading art libraries in Australia. The Schaeffer 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 RC Mills Building on the University of Sydney campus, and supported by the Power Institute, this specialist reference library is open to students and the public.

Our Collection

Schaeffer is a reference-only library, and is open to students and the general public from Monday to Friday.

The library’s collection comprises approximately 140,000 items including books, journals, exhibition catalogues, dissertations and visual media.  Our 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 a personal archives of Emeritus Professor Bernard Smith, and the archives of the Sherman Gallery.

Designed by architects Allen, Jack & Cottier, the Schaeffer Fine Arts Library, housed within RC Mills Building on the University of Sydney campus, was designed according to the belief that learning and scholarship is enhanced by elegant, well-thought-out design and the easy and abundant availability of books and other materials. Often singled out by students as the ‘most beautiful library on campus’, the Schaeffer is run by expert librarians, and nourished by contributions from the Power Endowment to ensure it makes available the latest catalogues, monographs and theoretical texts in the visual arts, with a particularly strong specialist collection of resources on modern and contemporary art, film and moving image.

Development, partly funded by generous alumni gifts, includes secure art display areas on the second floor, which allow students and staff to curate focussed exhibitions and make the Schaeffer a space for encounters not just with books and media but with art itself.

Library Catalogue


Allen, Jack & Cottier architects designed the library space as a synthesis of modernist and humanist ideals. 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 floor 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 Film Studies and provides specific materials and facilities for students undertaking related courses.

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).