Fryer Library : celebrating 90 years of collecting

Architecture students researching in Fryer Library, 2016
Architecture students researching in Fryer Library, 2016

Ninety years ago, a small number of Australian literary works was assembled on a bookshelf in the office of Dr Frederick Walter Robinson, Lecturer in English, at the University of Queensland’s original campus in George Street, Brisbane.

From this modest foundation, over many years, with the expertise of many people and much support, the collection was developed and expanded into what is now the Fryer Memorial Library of Australian Literature, our treasured Fryer Library.

Today, the Fryer Library's collection includes plans, drawings and records of key Queensland-based architects, literary manuscripts of prominent Australian writers, the University of Queensland Press Archive, rare books, and other unique material documenting Australian cultural history. Fryer's significant holdings continue to attract researchers from across Australia and internationally. The Fryer's Friends and supporters who have helped build its history share their stories below.

Our Stories

Our stories centre around our unique collections and our research community. Through acquiring, preserving and digitising material, we open up our collections and make them more easily accessible for researchers to uncover the stories that lay buried within.

Australian literature & theatre

Australian author, Colin Simpson

Australian Literature & Theatre is at the heart of Fryer collections, which include many prolific Australian writers, playwrights and The University of Queensland Press archive. 

Architectural plans & drawings

Cliffside Flats at Kangaroo Point, Wilson Architects (UQFL112)

The Fryer Library holds 22,000+ architectural drawings & plans. Within this collection are the plans of  Conrad & Gargett, Wilson Architects, James Birrell, and Karl Langer. Read more about our architectural plans and drawings here.

The Herberts' treasure chest

Xavier and Sadie Herbert

Renowned Australian writer Xavier Herbert's papers are also included in the Fryer Library's collection of literary gems. 

Photographic collections

Walter Cunningham Hume photographing sand hills, c1890

Digitised historical photographs from prominent Queenslanders such as Henry Mobsby & Walter Cunningham Hume can be viewed online. Read more about our physical and digital photographic collections.

What Leo Hayes collected next

Father Leo Hayes standing in his study holding a skeletal specimum

Father Leo Hayes was a prolific collector of rare books, stamps, coins, bookplates, autographs and letters. Find out just how much he collected here.

Digitising the Fryer Collection

Diary of a Turkish soldier on display

Digitisation plays an important role in preserving and making the primary resources from Fryer Library accessible. Read the digitisation for the 'Diary of a Turkish Soldier'.

'More popular than novels' : Ernestine Hill's travel writing

Portrait of Ernestine Hill

The remarkable, itinerant life of journalist and writer Ernestine Hill is reflected in her papers. Read more about her collection here.


Radical politics & street protests: Grahame Garner

View of protesters from the Grahame Garner colelction

Grahame Garner documented street protests & May Day processions in Brisbane during the 1960s & 70s. Read about the highlights of his collection here.

Three exquisite additions to our Rare Book Collection

Richard Stanyhurst's De rebus in Hibernia gestis, libri quattuor

Our rare and unique books support teaching and research. Read more about our recent additions to this collection, including Richard Stanyhurst's De rebus in Hibernia gestis, libri quattuor dating from 1584.

The ripple effect of collections for research

As Fryer's collections have grown, so too has the research these collections support. From its genesis as a small research collection in Australian Literature 90 years ago, Fryer manuscript material has contributed to many successful projects. Recent topics range from the social impact of economics using material from the Colin Clark Collection to award winning biographies on notable Australian writers such as Thea Astley. The Fryer Library also formally provides avenues for researchers to delve into our collections by providing an annual Fryer Fellowship. We have also hosted the first three Council of Australian University Librarians /Australian Society of Authors (CAUL/ASA) fellows. Their stories are below.

The Ripple Effect for Research

Artist and academic Dr Catherine Bell reveals how the unique materials in Daphne Mayo's archive inspired her artworks in the series 'Bringing Daphne Back'.
The Fryer Library supports research projects through awarding an annual fellowship, which provides financial assistance to access our collections and services for up to six months.
Historian and academic, Dr Lyndon Megarrity remembers some of the hidden gems he has used in his research projects.

Your Stories

Do you have a favourite memory of the Fryer Library? Please share your story with us. Email and we'll add your story to our page. If you'd like to join the conversation using social media, please add your comments to our Facebook or Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #Fryer90.


The building redevelopment in 1996/7 involved the repurposing of the Central and Undergraduate Library buildings and Fryer Library was packed up and moved to a temporary location in the Law Library for twelve months. Moving a library is a massive task – moving a special collection with its different formats and rare and fragile material is particularly challenging! We then moved Fryer to its current location on level 4 of the Duhig building. An original piece of Fryer Library history can be found on Level 1 of the Duhig Building – the bookcase containing the Fryer Library collection from its early days in the English Department.

Ros Follett, Fryer Library Manager 1994-2001.


The staff of Fryer gave me a great deal of support and research assistance; they also take a genuine interest in the Langers.

 Shirley Millett, Honours candidate in Art History, 2015. Shirley completed her thesis on Gertrude Langer.


I recently spent the better part of a week researching my biography of Frank Moorhouse in the Fryer archives and, as always, I was bowled over by the professionalism, expertise and generosity of the library staff. The Fryer team's assistance in my project has been so important every step along the way.

Professor Catharine Lumby, Department of Media, Music, Communications and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University.