The Power Research Library of Contemporary Art was established in 1968 as a reference library specialising in 20th century art. The first acquisitions were made on the advice of Mr Bernard Karpel, the Librarian of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Upon its establishment, Schaeffer Library assumed administration of the Power Research Library, and today this collection still forms the core of the library's holdings. The collection now encompasses the art and culture of the 20th and 21st centuries, including works dealing with art history and theory, semiotics, philosophy and cultural studies.

The collection focuses on printed materials, and comprises over 23,000 books and exhibition catalogues, journals, catalogues raisonnés, and exhibition catalogues. There are particular strengths in the areas of modern and contemporary art, photography, film studies and Asian arts.

All materials in the Power Research Library collection are included in the University of Sydney Library catalogue

Schaeffer Library also holds a collection of honours essays and higher degree theses submitted by Department of Art History and Film Studies students since 1971, and two archival collections relating specifically to Australian Art. Please see the library staff to access databases of these materials.