The University of Sydney Library is the library system of the University of Sydney. According to its publications, it is the largest academic library in the southern hemisphere (''circa'' 2005), with a print collection of over 5.2 million physical items and more than 340 thousand eBooks, (''Library Facts and Figures'').〔(【引用サイトリンク】url=http://sydney.edu.au/library/about/corporate/factsfigure2011.pdf )〕 It is composed of eleven libraries across eight campuses of the university. Its largest library, Fisher Library, is named after Thomas Fisher, an early benefactor.
Amongst the collection are many rare items such as one of the two extant copies of the ''Gospel of Barnabas'', a first edition of ''Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica'' by Sir Isaac Newton〔(【引用サイトリンク】url=http://opac.library.usyd.edu.au/record=b3761126~S4 )〕 and the only known extant copy of the little-known but invaluable ''On the mental inferiority of the people of Southern Africa'' by Dr David Livingstone.
== A brief history of the Library==
In 1885 the University received thirty thousand pounds from the estate of the late Thomas Fisher, retired bootmaker and property investor, to be used "in establishing and maintaining a library".
There was a difference of opinion in the University on how to spend the bequest. The Chancellor thought the fund should be used for a building and to contribute to the salary of a Librarian, but the Vice Chancellor and Library Committee preferred to buy books. In 1887 a compromise was reached. £20,000 plus accumulated interest was set aside for a building fund with the hope that the government would provide matching funds and £10,000 was directed to an endowment for books.
After many reversals and delays the NSW government agreed to fund the full cost of a new library building and the Fisher capital could be preserved as an endowed book fund. Plans were drawn up for the library by the Government Architect, Walter Vernon, and construction took eight years.
Fisher Library opened in 1909. The reading room was in the Gothic tradition with a magnificent cedar roof but the adjoining multi-tier book stack was of advanced design, including two electric book lifts. The reading room is now the MacLaurin Hall.〔(【引用サイトリンク】url=http://sydney.edu.au/library/uslhistory/ )〕
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