Our History


The establishment of the Friends of the University of Sydney Library was first conceived in early 1961through meetings between Sir Edward Ford (Professor and former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, scholar and noted book collector), Sir John Ferguson (lawyer, Judge, collector and bibliographer best known for his definitive Bibliography of Australia) and Dr Andrew Osborn (University Librarian), and was inspired by Dr Osborn's recent association with the Friends at Harvard.

On 5 October 1961, a small group of Sydney book collectors and bookish academics (including Sir Edward, Sir John, Walter Stone, Wallace Kirsop, founder to-be of the Monash Friends, Prof J.M. Ward, future Vice-Chancellor, and library staff Jean Whyte, Beatrice Wines and C M Hotimsky) met and set about planning the establishment of the Friends. This new association was designed to help the University of Sydney Library to buy more books - particularly the more expensive older books, manuscripts, or new limited editions, which the Library could normally not afford.

In March 1962, the Friends of the University of Sydney Library was formally established at its first Annual General Meeting in the Senate Room of the University. The membership of this new and enthusiastic association totalled 47, and the first Office Bearers elected were Sir Edward Ford (President), Professor Ian Jack (Secretary) and Hazel King (Treasurer). Office Holders 1962+

Read more about the history of the Friends in John Fletcher's essay Per ardua ad libros The Friends of the University of Sydney Library 1961-1984.

Role of the Friends


The aims of the Friends is expressed in the Society's Constitution:

"To assist, encourage and promote the interests of the University of Sydney Library in such ways as the Society may determine, and in particular
a) by gifts of money, books and other property
b) to furnish expert advice and assistance and to report the whereabouts of books, manuscripts or other material that may be of use to the Library
c) by such other manner as the Society may from time to time determine"

The Friends see their task as promoting the standing of the University of Sydney Library as the leading university library in the country. In achieving this task the Friends embrace both the new information technologies as well as the traditional role of the Library in supporting, extending and enriching scholarship and study.

The focus of the Friends has always been, and remains, to support in tangible ways the development and promotion of the scholarly resources of the Library. This includes the discovery and purchase of those scare and rare treasures that cannot be supported from the Library's core funds.

Images from Flowering plants and ferns of New South Wales by Joseph Henry Maiden (1859-1925)