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Other special collections

21 November 2023

All our UC libraries house special, unique collections. Most are in the Macmillan Brown library, including the Rare Books and Modern Fine Print Collections but you can also find collections elsewhere. Check out our other special collections.


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. 

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.

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),

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

High demand collections contain material that is in high demand by students of the University. See the High demand 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.


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

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.


The Library holds a large collection of original and secondary source material relating to Ernest 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


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.


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