The Library is one of the best research libraries in Australia in the area of Latin American Studies and was acknowledged by the Australian National Library in Canberra through the transfer of its Latin American collection to the University.
This major gift of nearly 14,000 items reflects the Library's long-term commitment to creating a national resource in this field of study. As a result, researchers and students will encounter a research library with a wide-ranging collection of primary and secondary material, especially in the areas of Mexican, Brazilian, Cuban, and Caribbean studies. There is also a strong research collection dealing with United States-Latin American relations and Latino peoples living in the United States.
Some unusual items include:
- the microfilm backset of the Cuban weekly, Bohemia, 1956-1975, (previously not available in Australia)
- a collection of gaucho literature
- donation of books on the Portuguese expansion in the New World.
Examples of codices in the collection include:
- Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus 1, Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien = History and description of the manuscript by Otto Adelhofer. Graz : Akademische Druck-und Verlagsanstalt, 1963
- Codice Magliabecchiano, Mexico : National Museum of Anthropology, 19--.
- El Codice Florentino de Fray Bernardino de Sahagun. Mexico : Secretaria de Gobernacion, 1979
- The Badianus manuscript (Codex Barberini, Latin 241) Vatican Library : an Aztec herbal of 1552 / introduction, translation and annotations by Emily Walcott Emmart ; with a foreword by Henry E. Sigerist. Baltimore : The Johns Hopkins Press, 1940.
In 1991, already noted as an Australian centre of excellence for Latin American materials, the Library signed an agreement with the National Library of Australia for a long term loan of 5 major collections of Latin American materials. In all, 14,000 volumes were transferred, and were added to La Trobe's Library.
The collection was further enhanced by a set of books donated by the Instituto de Cooperacion in connection with the Columbus conference held here at La Trobe, and by a donation of some of the major works of Mario Vargas Llosa, presented during his 1993 visit to the University.