To enable access during non-working hours, the main public reference collection is housed in the Visitor Information Centre in Canberra. A smaller collection of plants of the Jervis Bay region is maintained at the Jervis Bay site. The sheets are smaller, stored in plastic sleeves in folders, and can be quickly flicked through for comparison. Unlike specimens in the main collection, the public reference specimens are displayed in such a way that they can tolerate repeated rough handling. There is generally only one representative specimen of each taxon in this collection; each specimen carries the same accession number and field notes as the equivalent voucher specimen in the main collection and an additional label of brief summary information for the taxon it represents.
As Herbarium specimens with representatives in the Public Reference Herbarium are re-identified, the new identifications will be applied to the specimens in the Public Reference Herbarium. This collection will be managed to the same standard as the main collection and its use by students of botany and the public will be encouraged.