The Special Collection is also known as the Rare and Valuable Books collection.
There has been a library on the Footscray Park campus site since a Mechanics Institute was established there in 1916, some items from these predecessor institutions still reside in the Special Collection. The collection was set up to house rare and valuable items on a diverse range of subjects and has continued to be a safe repository for items that require a preservationist environment. These items form the basis of this collection.
Of particular significance in the development of the Special Collection was the purchase of the personal collection of author and historian, Mr John White.
The collection is strong in Australian literature, Australian history and Australian art, with smaller sections comprising music, anthropology, local history and town planning, along with a few rare collector's items on European history and literature. Within the collection there are books, pamphlets, periodicals, Antiquarian booksellers' catalogues, postcards, slides, and exhibition catalogues.
Over time the Special Collection has also become the repository of reports, planning documents, and historical material relating to the West of Melbourne.
Visit the Online Exhibition held in 2021 for a view of some of the material from this collection.
Historical material about Footscray Technical College, Footscray Technical School, Footscray Institute of Technology (FIT), Western Melbourne Institute of TAFE (WMIT), the Western Institute, Victoria University of Technology, or Victoria University is held by the Victoria University Archives and is not held in the Special Collection.