The State Library of New South Wales is the most important collecting institution in New South Wales. It is a deposit library, meaning copies of works published in New South Wales, including government publications, must be lodged with it. A number of institutions that cared for children have placed their records with the State Library of New South Wales. These are generally kept in the Mitchell Wing. It has an excellent family history research centre with librarians who specialise in family history research, including in Aboriginal communities.
The entrance to the State Library is on Macquarie Street, near Parliament House. The nearest station is Martin Place, Circular Quay and St James Station are close.
Users need a borrowers' card, which is free and can be ordered online. The library does not loan materials out but books and manuscripts can be ordered up to a week in advance, using the website or telephone. This saves time, especially if items are in offsite storage and must be ordered in. The State Library catalogue is available online.
The Australian Subscription Library was established in 1827 and moved between rental premises, before acquiring a building in Macquarie Street in 1845. In 1869 the New South Wales Government bought the library and it was reopened as the Sydney Free Public Library. This was renamed the Public Library of New South Wales in 1895.
A completely new 'national' library was planned, on a new site nearby, from 1900, after David Scott Mitchell offered his immense and unrivalled collection of Australiana to the people of New South Wales. Work on the Mitchell Wing started in 1906 and was completed in 1910. It houses the Mitchell Library reading rooms, work areas and galleries. The Mitchell Library has one of Australia's finest collections of manuscript items, journals and newspapers and printed books in Australia. It also holds the records of a number of children's homes and charitable institutions, parliamentary papers and government reports.
The Dixson Wing, completed in 1929, was added to the south side of the Mitchell Wing to provide storage and gallery space for the extensive collection of historical paintings presented by Sir William Dixson. In 1939 work began on the ornate central portion of the building and was completed in 1942. A further sandstone wing was added in 1964.
Work began on the Macquarie Street Wing in 1983 and it was opened in 1988 (Australia's bicentenary) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in company with Prince Philip. The new building fronts Macquarie Street and links up with the Mitchell Wing above ground by an unobtrusive first-floor bridge and below ground at a number of points.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'History of the library', in State Library of New South Wales, State Library of New South Wales, 2012, http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/about/history/index.html.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 22 November 2012, Last modified: 20 March 2015