USyd Libraries (and where to find them)

A deepdive into the pros and cons of campus libraries.

Is it your first time on campus? Have you found yourself as a third-year who’s never borrowed a book? Or do you just want to know more about where to read, relax and research on campus? Well, you’re in luck. Welcome to the somewhat-comprehensive guide to libraries on campus, rating them using the metrics that matter: seat availability, proximity to cafes, noise-levels, and overall studious vibes. 

Fisher Library and The Stack

LOCATION: Northern end of Eastern Avenue (F03)

HOURS: 24hrs 7days (with a student card

Despite being the best known of all the libraries, few use Fisher to its full potential. As an extremely large library, it comes with versatile spaces and pockets of greatness to those in the know. For the uninitiated, ‘The Stack’ refers to the monolithic dark-grey side of the library, a book-stack home to nine glorious levels which keep the overwhelming majority of Fisher’s books. This is where you go to do some serious crunch-time studying. It’s quiet,  private, and has single-tables with a view (for when things get existential).  

     The smaller left hand-side of Fisher is the more frequented and, often, busier section. It’s equipped with computers and a section of seating you can pre-book in three hour blocks — during exam weeks, I highly recommend this, unless you get in before 9am. Additionally, it is home to the Rare Books and Special Collections section on level 1, which, by appointment only, holds some of the rarest and specialist books USyd has to offer. 

     Unfortunately, it’s often a little noisier, with several non-silent sections and sees significantly more foot-traffic.

Pros: Bathrooms on every level, kitchenette, fantastic range of books.

Cons: Questionable cleanliness at times, can get very busy, you will run into someone you know. 

Overall seat availability: 4 / 5 

Proximity to cafes: 5 / 5 

Quiet: 3 / 5 

Studious vibes: 4 / 5

Herbert Smith Freehills Law 

Library 

LOCATION: Law School Building, Eastern Ave (F10)

HOURS: 9am – midnight. 

Ah the Law Library – think airport lounge meets Apple store meets GP waiting room. Squatting directly below the New Law lawns, and connected to natural light only by its ‘cone of silence’, this chronically ‘under maintenance’ atrium has become a physical ode to the alumni battle between Malcolmn Turnbull and Tony Abbott.

     The library has convenient exits to Victoria Park and the University’s unofficial smoking alley, Barff Road. It contains more rarely-used and thinly-papered law books than anyone should have to look at, much less actually read. The countless computers, study rooms, silent sections, bookable tables, and research collections, make this underground multi-level library resourced and ready to serve any and all of your Elle Woods needs. 

Pros: Feeling superior, front row  seats to see the University’s aspiring human rights lawyer to war-criminal pipeline in real time, the hustle-grind atmosphere is infectious.

Cons:  Studying near students who think they’re superior, way too bright. 

Note: Law students hate anyone studying there who does not ‘do law,’ despite all of our SSAF fees paying to keep those over-powered lights on. Ignore the glares, turn up your headphones and use this as your one opportunity to stick it to the man.

Overall seat availability: 3 / 5 

Proximity to cafes: 3 / 5 

Quiet:  5/5 

Studious vibes: 5 / 5 

SciTech Library

LOCATION: Level 1, Jane Foss Russell Building (G02) 

HOURS: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm. Sat-Sun, 10am-2pm 

Supporting the Faculty of Science, Scitech Library boasts the majority of USyd’s STEM-related books and literature. If you study Medicine, Veterinary Science, Agriculture, Architecture, Engineering, or any Science-adjacent subjects, this is your place. With much individual seating and several computers, SciTech is a great place to get work done with like-minded science students. Situated in one of the best locations out of all the libraries, Subway and the USyd Store reside directly upstairs for all your study-supply needs, and the Wentworth food court is just around the corner. 

      Honi’s honest issue with SciTech is that, compared to other libraries, it’s just a bit ugly. We surveyed frequent campus library users, and the feedback was not strong. We are told that it smells, and one of our respondents said the two times they’ve been there were for a breakup and an SRC deal – not a good start.

Pros: Kitchenette, external book-returns shoot, isn’t PNR. 

Cons: Only one bookable room, ugly carpet, harsh lighting, smells. 

Overall seat availability: 4 / 5 

Proximity to cafes: 5 / 5 

Quiet: 4 / 5 

Studious vibes: 5 / 5 

Schaeffer Fine Arts Library

LOCATION: Level 2, RC Mills Building (A26) 

HOURS: Mon-Fri, 8:30am-6pm

Schaeffer Fine Arts Library contains over 140,000 books, documents, and exhibition catalogues — making it one of the largest art reference libraries in the country. Somewhat of a hidden gem, it is easy to overlook Schaeffer simply because you don’t know it even exists, hidden away in the RC Mills Building amongst tutorial rooms and academic offices. 

      Connected to the Department of Art History and Film Studies, the library is designed to be a “synthesis of modernist and humanist ideals.” Supported by high ceilings and skylights, the ambiance is breathtaking. Despite this, it is a relatively small space and seats fill up fast, so get in early and impress your Art History teachers! 

Pros: There isn’t an art book they don’t have, completely silent study, nice staff, gives dark academia vibes.

Cons: Can’t borrow books, no food or drinks inside, the wooden stairs squeak loudly.  

Overall seat availability: 2 / 5 

Proximity to cafes: 2 / 5 

Quiet: 5 / 5 (SILENT)

Studious vibes: 5 / 5 

Wingara Mura Research Library 

LOCATION: John Woolley Building (A20) 

HOURS: Mon-Fri, 9:30am-4:30pm

Housed in the John Woolley Building, the Wingara Mura Research Library is home to an extensive collection of literature, print materials and resources relating to Aboriginial and Torres Strait Islander affairs and culture. Established in 1992 for students of the Koori Centre, the library has grown significantly to include rare

collections and newspapers from local Indigenous communities. Similar to the Schaeffer Arts Library, the Wingara Mura Research Library is independent from the University of Sydney Libraries, however, its materials and collections can still be accessed through the library search function. 

Pros: Only for Indigenous students.

Susan Wakil Health Building Library 

LOCATION: Level 2, Susan Wakil Health Building (D18) 

HOURS: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm 

With a focus on Health Sciences, Nursing and Midwifery, the Susan Wakil Health Building Library is located near the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on the Western side of campus. The Library has eight bookable study rooms all with large Zoom-connected TV screens for collaborative work and group presentations. Level three has several individual study-cubes for focused study when you need to stop procrastinating, or just want to be left alone. 

     CreateSpace on level four is fitted out with a podcast room, a 3D printer and scanner, and VR technology (for doing … things?). Each of the six levels has a different purpose and a good range of facilities — although it fills up fast, so get in quick! 

Pros: Has a quiet reading room with floor to ceiling windows, extensive technology, close to showers. 

Cons: Feels like very clinical, you will get kicked out of booked rooms, very busy. 

Overall seat availability: 2 / 5 

Proximity to cafes: 3 / 5 

Quietl: 4 / 5 

Studious vibes: 4 / 5