Visiting the collection

Please note due to an AIATSIS event, the Reading Room will be closed to the general public from 1pm Tuesday 5 March 2019 until 10am Thursday 7 March 2019.

The Reading Room is open to the general public from 10am to 1pm weekdays. Or you can make an appointment in advance to access collection material between 9:30am and 4:30pm weekdays.

Please contact the Collection Access Unit if you have any questions regarding access to collection material at

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) provide a range of services to help you get the most out of our vast collection of materials relating to the oldest continuing culture on earth.

Visiting AIATSIS

The Reading Room is open from 10am to 1pm weekdays. Or you can make an appointment in advance to access collection material between 9:30am and 4:30pm weekdays. We require a minimum of two weeks notice for an appointment. This is so that permission clearance, where required, can be completed and material can be retrieved from our vaults and servers before your visit. Please contact us by sending an email to

An Access Officer will be on duty and we can assist with access to the open stacks which holds our published print collection and also our photographic database which is viewed through computers in the Reading Room.

If you are visiting us here in Canberra, it is important that you contact us beforehand so we can make sure the collections you want to visit are available.

We welcome visits from groups conducting their own research, who may wish to view specific collection items. Group visits include orientation tours of our Print collection and may include rare items as well as an introduction to our Sound and Film collections.

Access to collection items

Some of the items in our collection are not owned by AIATSIS, but have been deposited with us for preservation and safe-keeping. If you wish to view collection items with closed access, copying or quotation conditions, it is important for you to contact us before your visit so we can let you know what procedures you will need to follow for access, copy or quotation of the material. Authorisation must be in writing and must be signed by the depositor.

If you would like to view or request copies of collection items that fall into this category, permission will need to be given by the relevant Indigenous Australian person, family or community beforehand.

If the material is being requested for publication, we will need to consult with the depositor/s before proceeding. We cannot guarantee that all materials will be made available to all clients, or that permission will be received within a set timeframe.

Read our Access and Use policy (PDF, 772 KB) for more information.

Reading and viewing rooms

The Stanner Reading Room is open to the public from 11amto 3pm, Monday to Friday, for people wishing to view the print collection.

Audiovisual collection items are available to view by appointment only from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Contact us to make an appointment.

The Pictorial Collection Database

The Pictorial Collection database contains over 350,000 images from the AIATSIS photographic collection. This represents about 50% of the total number of items held in the photographic collection. The database is available for use on terminals in the AIATSIS library but may also be accessed by remote users upon request. Images that are subject to access restrictions (e.g. secret/sacred content) are not included in the Pictorial Collection database.

Last reviewed: 4 Mar 2019