The University of Otago has one of Australasia's finest library systems, and the special collections at the university and the public library offer rich opportunities for original research. Students are encouraged to explore the remarkable holdings of the university, the city museums, and the public library.
University of Otago Library
As well as being a major national resource containing some one and a half million items, the University of Otago Library provides access through Document Delivery and Te Puna service to collections in other centres. Special strengths at Otago include the New Zealand and Pacific materials in the Hocken Library, and the de Beer and Shoults collections of early printed books, housed in the Central Library.
Library databases useful for English research are available through the Library website.
The Hocken Collections contain a specialized book and pamphlet stock of some 150,000 items, some 3,000 linear metres of archives, 100,000 photographs, and 6,000 paintings. The archive includes many unedited papers and manuscripts of New Zealand authors, which could sustain appropriate research projects suitable for theses and dissertations, given the necessary permissions.
Central Library Special Collections
The de Beer Collection contains rare eighteenth-century books and pamphlets, a remarkably strong selection of guides to Europe, dating from 1499, many early editions of works by the philosopher John Locke. There is also a large collection of modern British poetry, and an important collection of first editions of Robert Graves' fiction, essays, poetry and pamphlets, the library of the New Zealand writer and critic, Charles Brasch. The Shoults Collection, on deposit from Selwyn College, comprises some 5,000 works printed before 1801, representing the scholarship, especially legal and theological, of early modern Europe.
Early Tudor Textbase
The Early Tudor Textbase, consisting of an electronically encoded transcription of poetic texts written between c. 1485 and c. 1550. Given that many of these texts have not been edited since their first appearance, nor studied in any depth, considerable scope exists for theses consisting either of editions, or of thematic and historical approaches to the material.
Dunedin Public Library Heritage Collections
Two remarkable Heritage Collections are located on the third floor of the City Library. The McNab New Zealand Collection preserves books, newspapers, and historical documents relating to the history of the New Zealand and Pacific. The Alfred and Isabel Reed Collection contains around 10,000 items dating from the tenth century to the present day relating to literature, religion, and the history of the book. The Samuel Johnson, Walt Whitman, and Charles Dickens collections are internationally known, while the manuscript collection preserves Medieval manuscripts and letters from an impressive range of eighteenth and nineteenth-century literary and cultural figures. The curators regularly hold excellent exhibitions in the Reed Gallery, also on the third floor.