The electronic library catalogue can be accessed from

History of the Library

The Museum Library is one of the oldest government libraries in the State, with book acquisitions dating back to the late nineteenth century. The collection has grown steadily and includes purchases, exchanges and early donations of now rare scientific works.

The library is a vital research tool for Museum staff and is a valuable source of specialised publications for other Australian researchers.


The library is open to the public by appointment. Please phone, email or fax to arrange a suitable time:

Phone: +61 8 9212 3772 / +61 8 9212 3773
Fax: +61 8 9212 3882

Photocopying is available for a small fee. Copyright restrictions apply.

Inter-library Loans

Inter-library loan requests are acccepted from other libraries by LADD, phone, fax or email.

Payment may be made by cheque, credit card, or IFLA vouchers.

Loan requests from individuals are not accepted. Please contact your local public, workplace, college or university library to organise an inter-library loan.


Individuals unable to visit the library and without access to inter-library loans may send requests for photocopies. A charge may be made for more than one article. Copyright restrictions apply.


Publications are spread over several sites. The main library is located at the Museum's Welshpool site, while important collections also exist at the Shipwrecks Gallery in Fremantle (maritime archaeology and history, materials conservation). Smaller collections are held in the branch museums at Geraldton, Kalgoorlie and Albany.

All publications are included in the library's catalogue.

Subjects Covered

The Library specialises in providing materials on the following topics: zoology; earth sciences; Australian history, anthropology and archaeology; maritime archaeology; materials conservation; and museology.

The Library is a major state resource for publications in the fields of ornithology, palaeontology, malacology, marine invertebrates, maritime archaeology, materials conservation and museology.

Old & Rare Books

The Library features over 750 books published prior to 1900, together with scientific journals dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and many 19th century reprints. Rare books include volumes of natural history, Australian Aboriginal studies and accounts of European discovery and exploration of Australia.


The archive collection documents the history of the Museum and its early correspondence. It includes personal papers and field notes of former staff plus other material from a few notable individuals without formal Museum affiliation. It also contains documents created and received by the Museum since its development from the collections of the Swan River Mechanics Institute (founded in 1860) and the Geological Museum at Fremantle (started in 1881) up until 1970. The correspondence of early Museum directors is included, e.g. the letter books of Bernard Woodward covering the period 1895-1915. The history and conservation of present and past Museum buildings, e.g. the Old Perth Gaol, are also covered.

Most items in the Museum’s archives are not fully indexed, however, the development of the archives database is ongoing. Summaries and the indexing of key names are being added on a regular basis. Material can be viewed by appointment. Please email requests for access to the Librarian, together with your details, the items you wish to view and an outline of the research being undertaken.

Press Clippings

A separate fully searchable database contains the full-text of items contained in the Museum's scrapbooks of late 19th and early 20th century newspaper articles. These articles cover the period 1889-1909. Many of the earlier clippings reflect the Museum's origins as a geological museum and are primarily concerned with a geological perspective of Western Australia's exploration and development. Later articles concentrate on the museum's development and role in society, with specific regard to collections and expansion.

Journal Exchange Program

The Records of the Western Australian Museum and its Supplements, are exchanged on a world-wide basis for over 260 other journals, many available only on exchange and available in no other Western Australian library.

Royal Society of Western Australia Library

Since 1960 the collection has been augmented by the Library of the Royal Society of Western Australia, a small but important collection for scientific research. Over 580 books, and 983 serial titles - more than 252 of them current - are contained in this library. Most of this material has been obtained on exchange for The Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, and many of the overseas titles are held nowhere else in the State.

The Royal Society Library contains over 84 monographs published prior to 1900, all of them donated. These include several rare titles on early voyages to Australia and on the botany of Australia.