Since its foundation in 1734, Göttingen State and University Library has been collecting books and other materials from and relating to Britain and its colonies, as Georg August, Duke of Hanover, the founder of Göttingen University, also ruled Great Britain in personal union as King George II. As one of the principal research libraries of the Enlightenment, Göttingen Library acquired a large variety of travel writings and accounts of voyages of discovery in a period which coincided with the colonization of Australia by the British. Over the years, the library was able to further extend its important and wide-ranging collection of Australiana which encompasses historical and contemporary primary sources as well as scholarly publications on Australian and New Zealand history, culture, literature, folklore, politics, natural history and geography. The collection features books, journals, maps and mircroforms as well as digitized copies of historical documents.
Among the earliest documents of the collection are accounts of James Cook's expeditions, such as the 1777 and 1779 editions of A Voyage towards the South Pole and round the World and detailed descriptions by the 18th century German scholar Georg Forster who had accompanied Cook on his second voyage. Göttingen University also owns a substantial ethnographic collection of cultural artifacts obtained on the Cook/Forster voyages. The library also owns several 18th- and 19th-century works on the flora of Australia and New Zealand.
After World War II, SUB Göttingen was tasked by the German Research Foundation (DFG) to collect primary sources and scholarly literature pertaining to Australia and New Zealand as part of its Special Subject Collections Programme. This resulted in a substantial collection of contemporary German and international research literature comprised of both books and journals. The collection of primary literature contains editions of historical sources (both in print and on microform) as well as editions of literary texts representative of a large variety of genres: Volumes of contemporary poetry, novels, anthologies of short stories, regional and non-fiction writing as well as literary magazines such as Overland.