Sydney Reference Collection

Sydney Reference Collection

Search the catalogue

Find books in the Sydney Reference Collection using the City's library catalogue.


Reports, newspaper cuttings and more

The Sydney Reference Collection (SRC) is a permanent collection of current and retrospective materials relating to the City of Sydney. Material is held in a variety of formats.

The collection was created in 1998 by amalgamating the City Library's Local Studies Collection with the Archives’ Reference Collection. It includes materials relating to the City’s villages, indigenous history, cultural history, political history and its personalities, and monographs and serials relating to the Archive profession.

This includes monographs, which are accessed via the City of Sydney’s Library catalogue. Books, published reports and Conservation Management Plans can be found using the City's library catalogue.

However, it is not possible to request books via the library catalogue and materials in the SRC are not available for borrowing. All research and reading must be done at the Archives, in our reading room. Photocopying and scanning facilities are available.

We aim to build a comprehensive collection of published books about Sydney, not only history but all aspects of living here, from restaurant guides to crime fiction set in the city. If you know of a book that we don’t have or might be interested in, email details to

Reports published by the City or other government agencies can cover topics as diverse as flood-control programs, traffic-management plans, environmental and heritage studies.

The Information Files are arranged alphabetically by name or subject. They can contain a wide variety of documents, depending on what we have collected, including: news clippings, pamphlets, brochures, election handouts, theatre programs and other ephemera.

Aldermen's files

Aldermen have been called Councillors since 1993. We have a file containing biographical information about every Mayor, Lord Mayor, Alderman and Councillor of the City. There are also files on the Town Clerks and some other senior officers over the years. These files contain only information that is in the public domain (such as news clippings).

We are gradually extending coverage of these files to the suburban Councils absorbed into the City over the years.

Newspaper indexes

The Archives holds 'Old Sydney Peeps at the Past' and 'Australiana', which date from approximately 1906 to 1987. 'Old Sydney and Peeps at the Past' relate specifically to several historical columns in Sydney newspapers, while 'Australiana' is a more general clippings file. The clippings books that were prepared by the City's library staff are too fragile for browsing, but it may be possible to provide you with a photocopy of any item you find in the indexes.

The card indexes have been digitised but are not yet available online. Discuss with an archivist if you would like to see the indexes for your research. We are looking at digitising the actual clippings. Contact Archives to access paper indexes.

Access services

To make use of the Sydney Reference Collection you will need to first contact Archives on 02 9265 9618 or email us at to arrange an appointment time to view materials. This applies even if you have used the City's library catalogue to identify a book held in the SRC.

Online databases 

Our libraries offer free access to the Australian and New Zealand Reference Centre, an online collection of magazines and newspapers, as well as an online archive of Sydney Morning Herald articles. More research databases are available.

Last updated: Thursday, 20 September 2018