Close up of book in O'Donovan Library
O'Donovan Library - Queensland Parliament

O’Donovan quadrupled the Library contents from an estimated 8000 to some 32 000 volumes. He also compiled an ‘encyclopedic’ dictionary catalogue of the Library’s collections which was ‘universally applauded as a scholarly work ranking with the best in the world’.

The collection is recognised as an irreplaceable heritage asset and is displayed in the original fitted, floor to ceiling shelves. These are cedar faced with yellowwood, and feature ornamented columns with encircling scrolls.

The collection features:

  • a large number of Australian explorers’ journals such as the journals of Captain James Cook's various voyages 1768-1780, as well as those of other early Australian sea and land expeditions by Darwin, Mitchell, Flinders, Oxley, Leichhardt, Jardine and La Perouse
  • a Spanish English Dictionary published in 1599
  • The Anatomy of melancholy: what it is, published in London in 1652
  • the History of the war in Afghanistan published in 1851
  • 19th century International Exhibition Catalogues
  • the first issue of the Moreton Bay Courier in 1846
  • Complete Works of Voltaire (70 volumes, 1784)
  • Matthews, G.M. Birds of Australia (1910-1928), and
  • Diggles, S. Ornithology of Australia (1866-70) which contains original watercolour plates.

The O’Donovan collection is not available for loan and is only available for perusal in the library by Members or bona fide scholars.

The Parliamentary Library has a policy of ongoing restoration and preservation for the collection.

Visitors to Parliamentary events, including High Tea in the Strangers’ Dining room, are offered a tour of the O’Donovan Library.

Community group visits can be arrange by contacting the Parliamentary Library.