Other special collections

The Library has special and unique collections located in all of the University libraries. The majority are located in the Macmillan Brown library, which includes the Rare Books and Modern Fine Print Collections. Collections found within the Art, Archives, Maori and Aotearoa, and the Pacific Collections are located under their own headings in the left hand menu under 'Search our collections'.

This collection comprises mainly first and early editions of music scores of the standard classical composers and, in particular, early 19th Century engraved music scores where title-pages are a feature. Scarce early works on music are being added to this collection.

See the 19th Century Printed Music Collection for a list of items available at the University of Canterbury.

Christchurch's location as a major "Gateway to the ice" has meant that there is longstanding interest here in the continent of Antarctica and the southern ocean which surrounds it. Material about Antarctica is held in all parts of the Library but in September 1998 the University of Canterbury Library was given the opportunity to hold and look after a special collection from the International Antarctic Centre. This Antarctic Collection is managed as a distinct collection by the University Library on indefinite loan from Antarctica New Zealand and supports the work of Gateway Antarctica, the University's centre for Antarctic studies.

What is it?

The subject coverage of the collection is wide-ranging, but has particular emphases on:

  • New Zealand activities in Antarctica (records of scientific work, logistic support, environmental concerns, Antarctic Treaty matters)
  • Antarctica in general
  • Antarctic science

The collection includes around 5000 books and journals, and also a substantial number of maps and videos.

Where is it?

  • Books and Journals - shelved on level 1 of the EPS library. Some journals are not yet classified and are shelved by title.
  • Maps - housed in map cabinets on level 1 of the EPS library.
  • Microfiche and microfilms - held in level 1 of the EPS library. Many of the fiche contain the full-text of documents indexed by the Arctic & Antarctic Bibliography.
  • Videos - shelved on level 1 of the EPS library.

Access and catalogue

Material on the shelves may be freely browsed, and may be borrowed by University staff and students. The books and journals are available through the interlibrary loan system.

Maps and microfiche may not be borrowed.

The Library Catalogue allows you to search for everything owned by the Library, including the Antarctic Collection.

History of the collection

The Antarctic Division of the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) and its Library were established in 1959. The initial emphasis was on building up a comprehensive collection of historical publications covering New Zealand's Antarctic interests and the interests of other countries in the Ross Dependency. This later changed to establishing "a comprehensive scientific and technical collection of Antarctic literature".

When the DSIR was dis-established, the New Zealand Antarctic Institute Act 1996 created Antarctica New Zealand which took over the DSIR Library. The Library served the International Antarctic Centre including Antarctica New Zealand, the International Centre for Antarctic Information and Research (ICAIR), the Visitor Centre, members of the United States and Italian Antarctic programmes while in Christchurch, and Scott Base. It was also open to researchers and members of the public interested in Antarctica.

In 1998, Antarctica New Zealand approached the University of Canterbury Library which agreed to manage the collection on indefinite loan.

Antarctic Collection Rare Books

When the University took over the International Antarctic Centre Library in 1998, there were 37 volumes representing the narratives of the "Heroic age" of Antarctic exploration.

The highlight is the three volume 1907-1914 facsimile of the South Polar Times. Please contact the Macmillan Brown Library for access.


For further information on the collection, see the Antarctic Studies guide.

Antarctic resources held elsewhere

Aerial photographs are located at Gateway Antarctica.

Antarctica New Zealand also has a large range of resources, including a substantial pictorial collection (photographs, slides, paintings) and the Field Event reports from 1957 to present day.

A True Musician's Collection: Brian Kirkbride Douglas (1914-1997)

In 1989 Brian Douglas gave his extraordinary collection of music, sound recordings, books and journals to the School of Music at Canterbury University. The Central Library subsequently received the sheet music and scores (which are in excess of 3000 titles) and books (365 titles). His library has its main strength in materials that relate to English piano music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and will be of interest to musicians who would like to expand their repertoire. He was also interested in other European composers of this period, and in particular the Russian composers. In the case of Nicolai Medtner, all his piano works are represented. The works of a number of English composers are featured including Arnold, Bax, Delius, Elgar, Ferguson, Finzi, Holst, Ireland, Moeran, Quilter, Rawsthorne, Richardson and Stanford. The sheet music contains many first editions. The rest of his library reflects a wide ranging musical interest including opera, ballet, chamber, orchestral music and the art song.

The man himself was the son of a leading Manchester surgeon and the fine singer Margaret Kirkbride. He had a typically Edwardian childhood and grew up attending Halle Orchestra concerts under Hamilton Harty and the John Barbirolli. After attending Oxford University, Brian Douglas studied at the Royal College of Music in September 1939 until the outbreak of war (as an infantry captain he was badly wounded) and continued his studies after the war with a government grant. He graduated in 1947 with an ARCM in piano solo and gave his Wigmore Hall debut recital with the monumental piano sonata (1901) of Paul Dukas. Following this, he auditioned with the American Ballet and became its pianist for their tour of war-torn Europe, before accompanying them back to the United States. Then, after periods of teaching and accompanying in England, he moved to Adelaide as accompanist for the Australian Ballet and eventually settled in Christchurch in the 1970s.

The Brian Douglas Collection embodies a true musician's love of music and displays his interest in the piano and chamber music of many of the early twentieth century European composers.


Jan Willem de Jong

Professor Jan Willem de Jong was a distinguished scholar in Buddhist Studies and founder of South Asian and Buddhist Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. He died in January 2000. During his career, he was able to gather a vast collection of books in a variety of fields, with a focus on Central Asian and South East Asian religions and history. At the beginning of the year 2000 the University of Canterbury Library acquired the De Jong Collection, estimated to consist of approximately 12,000 items. The project of sorting and cataloguing the books started in June 2000.

Content of the collection

The core of the De Jong Collection is represented by material on Hinduism and Buddhism. Among the many reference books, there are various indexes of Tripitakas and descriptive catalogues of manuscripts in Pali, Sanskrit and Tibetan. Two examples of some important reference titles now catalogued and shelved are the inventory of Tibetan manuscripts from Tun-huang: Inventaire des manuscrits tibétains de Touen-houang, conservés à la Bibliothèque nationale (Fonds Pelliot tibétain), edited by Marcelle Lalou, and published in Paris,1939-<1961>. There is also Sutain [Stein], Perio [Pelliot] shushu Tonko Hokkekyo mokuroku, edited by Kabutogi Shoko, Tokyo, 1978, which is a descriptive catalogue of the Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching from Tunhuang collected by Aurel Stein and Paul Pelliot.

With the acquisition of the De Jong Collection, the University of Canterbury Library has also added some rare items to the Rare Books Collection, such as: Systema Brahmanicum liturgicum, mythologicum, civile, by fr. Paulinus a S. Bartholomaeo, published in Rome, 1791. The author's name Paulinus a S. Bartholomaeo is the pseudonym of the Austrian missionary Philip Wesdin (1748-1806), who spent more than a decade in India. After his return to Rome he wrote some of the very first books published in Europe on Indian literature and customs. Other titles added to the Rare Books Collection include the first English translation from Sanskrit of a Hindu sacred book, by Charles Wilkins: The Bhagvat-geeta, or, Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon ...London, 1785, and Fables choisies, mises en vers, by Jean de La Fontaine, Amsterdam, 1705.

The literature of Buddhism in Japanese represents a large portion of the De Jong Collection, and includes the most important critical studies edited in Japan, many of which are now out of print.

The Collection also includes many monographs on Asian history. Works on India and Tibet figure prominently among these items, together with some historical accounts on Central Asia. One seminal work can be identified in the English translation of a travel account by the explorer Carl Gustaf Mannerheim: Across Asia from West to East in 1906-1908, Helsinki, 1940. Another title worth mentioning is Kintei Seiiki dobunshi, Tokyo, 1961-1964, which is a polyglot gazetteer on Central Asia in Chinese, Kalmyk, Manchu, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Uighur.

With the acquisition of the De Jong Collection, the University of Canterbury Library can be considered one of the largest resources in New Zealand for the study of Asia in general, and of South East Asian religions and history in particular.

As a person of wide knowledge, Professor de Jong owned many books on other subjects, including Western philosophy, literature and classics. Consequently, the acquisition of the De Jong Collection has enabled the University of Canterbury Library to expand in those fields as well.

Browse the catalogue

A search for De Jong Collection in the Author alphabetical index will find the entire collection of works. To restrict your search to items in the De Jong Collection, use the Global keyword index and enter a keyword, eg 'Buddhism', followed by: 'De Jong'.


Macmillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch. Ph: +64 3 369 4499, (internal ext 94499), macbrown@libr.canterbury.ac.nz

The University of Canterbury has a large collection of European Union collections and resources, which can be viewed on the Library Subject Guides page.

Want to browse the fiction shelves at UC Libraries? Each library has a different collection of fiction.

  • The Central Library has the widest range of fiction, with historical and contemporary fiction from around the world. It is also has a detective fiction collection (formerly at the Law Library).
  • The Education Library houses young adult and junior fiction, as well as an array of picture books.
  • The EPS Library has a science fiction collection.
  • The Macmillan Brown Library has a collection of New Zealand and Pacific fiction which can be read only within the library, but also a small collection of borrowable fiction from Māori authors.

See our fiction guide to find out how to browse our collections and view our featured titles.

High demand collections contain material that is in high demand by students of the University. See the High demands collection page for more information.

The Julio Campal Experimental Poetry Collection (University of Canterbury) is a joint project between the University’s Spanish department and the Library. The project was established by former staff member Dr Laura López Fernández and continues the collection of the same name at Georgetown College, Kentucky, which she established there in collaboration with the College Library.

  • The collection focuses on Hispanic materials and their different languages such as Spanish, Catalan, Gallego, etc.
  • It includes publications in various formats of experimental poetry, including, inter alia, visual poetry, phonetic poetry and action or performance poetry.
  • The items are collected for their typography, illustrations and book production techniques as much as for their content. Most of the items are issued in very small editions.

The items can be browsed by visiting the Spanish subject guide, or by searching the catalogue using Campal as a keyword search term.


This is a collection of some 400 volumes on botany, both New Zealand and overseas. The books were bequeathed by R.M. Laing, a former teacher at Christchurch Boy’s High School who died in 1941. The books are mainly 19th and early 20th century specialist works outside the standard commercial publishers' output, and include many scarce items. Books may not be borrowed.


This is an extension of the Rare Books Collection and includes works from the 1890s onwards. Representative examples of most of the private presses such as Kelmscott, Doves, Golden Cockerell, and Gregynog are included. Also, fine printing from commercial presses, book illustration and design and examples of artists’ books are collected. The works of New Zealand poets, artists and printers in small handpress editions are also sought out. Books may not be borrowed.


All New Zealand Government and official information can be view on the Library Subject Guide.

The Rare Books Collection consists of about 7000 volumes of European printed works, including incunabula, and a small number of medieval manuscript items. The printed collection includes books published before 1830, books remarkable for their rarity regardless of age, valuable first editions and special editions, books notable for their illustrations, and fine-quality facsimile editions.


From small beginnings: a history of the Rare Books Collection

The Rare Books Collection has its origins in the early European settlement of Canterbury province. The Canterbury Association had been founded in England in 1848 by John Robert Godley and included plans for a school modelled on the English public school system. Bookplates in the collection and a manuscript catalogue held at Christchurch City Libraries confirm that books were part of the luggage brought by colonists on the first ships which began arriving at the port of Lyttelton in December 1850. Both the settlement of Christchurch and the school which was promptly set up by Bishop-Designate Reverend Thomas Jackson were named for Christ Church College, Oxford: Godley’s former college. As a result of Godley’s appeal to help advanced education in the new colony, other Oxford alumnae also donated books.

Canterbury College was founded in 1875 as part of the federated University of New Zealand. From 1876, upon the demise of the provincial government, the College took over the administration of the Canterbury Public Library. In due course some of the older books from the Public Library and donations from Christ’s College became a valuable part of the Canterbury College collection. We do not know exactly when the rare books were gathered into a discrete collection but it is likely to have been in the 1950s when a card catalogue was created. The University of Canterbury moved to the Ilam site in 1974 where the rare book collection was housed on the ground floor of the James Hight building. Escaping serious damage in the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-11, the collection then moved to the Macmillan Brown Library in 2012.

Clifford Collins, College and then University Librarian from 1934-71, took an active role in library acquisitions and developed good relationships with the academic staff. As a result the rare books collection gained strength in certain areas of research and teaching such as political theory, literature, art and architecture. Purchases of rare books for the support of teaching and research declined from the 1990s but are still made very selectively.

Donations from both the university and the wider community have always been important for the Library’s collections. The greatest single donor was John Macmillan Brown (1846-1935), founding professor of English and Classics who bequeathed his entire library of 35,000 volumes to the University. Donors of smaller collections include botanists Charles Chilton and Robert Laing, medical practitioner Robert Laing, economist John Bell Condliffe, architect Samuel Hurst Seager and artist W. H. Sutton. Generous institutional donors include the Royal Society of New Zealand, the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, and the Catholic Diocese who donated the library of Bishop John J. Grimes. Offers of donations are welcome and material will be assessed for the collection.

Research essays are produced for third year courses or above, but are not theses. Research essays may be requested under strict conditions and no photocopying is allowed. The Macmillan Brown Library has collections of research essays in the areas listed below. Research essays are all recorded on the Library Catalogue under title, author and subject, but they can also be viewed as a group by using a keywords search. For example:

This is a collection of about 350 volumes, mainly the published output of Robert Bridges in English language editions.The collection was purchased from J.H.E. Schroder in 1965. Most of the scarcer works are present, including Daniel Press and other private press editions. There is also a small number of manuscript items, including letters.

Please note this collection is temporarily unavailable.

The Library holds a large collection of original and secondary source material relating to Rutherford, including 26 academic diplomas, scientific papers, a short film, sound recordings, and Rutherford's medals. Most material can be found via the Library catalogue. You can search for the manuscripts in Kā Kohika - see the Rutherford entry under 'Popular Collections'.

To see items in the Rutherford Collection, please ask at the Macmillan Brown Library Service Desk.

After a number of requests over the years for more recreational reading, the University of Canterbury Library is very pleased and proud to bring to you – through the generosity of donors – this small but exclusive collection of science-fiction novels.

The novels have attracted attention from students and staff alike – both sci-fi fans and those with only a passing interest. Some have also seen it as an opportunity to finally find a caring home for their own well-thumbed and much-loved treasures.

Housed in the EPS Library in the casual reading space on Level 2, the collection includes about 300 items. Browse the collection by searching the catalogue by author or title or browse the shelves on Level 2 of the EPS Library – the books are shelved by the first three letters of the author's surname.

This includes first and other early editions of Scott's works. It comprises about 350 volumes, and early collected editions make up most of this number. It was purchased from a member of our English Department, A.W.S. Stockwell, in 1981

Please note this collection is temporarily unavailable.

Comprises 1000 items from the late 19th century until the 1930s. Includes adventure stories (authors such as G. Henty, Jules Verne and William Kingston), school stories (eg Angela Brazil and Elsie Oxenham), colonial writing (eg Ethel Turner) and some conduct literature. There are runs of the Boys Own Paper, Girls Own Annual and other annuals for both sexes.

The collection represents a merger of two smaller collections: one purchased in the 1980s from Professor D.C. Gunby, formerly of the English department, and the memorial collection of Iain Henderson, formerly of the Christchurch College of Education.