Opened in 1826, the State Library of New South Wales is a public library located in Sydney. The library is the oldest in Australia and is dedicated to reference and research as well as containing a special collection.
The State Library of New South Wales has its origins in the Australian Subscription Library, a private library established by a wealthy group of citizens in 1826. The collection was eventually purchased by the New South Wales Government which would go on to establish the state’s first public library. Like many of New South Wales early institutions, the library did not have a fixed location, spending most of its early existence moving between different locations in Sydney.
In 1889 David Scott Mitchell promised to donate his entire collection of Australian books and art (approximately 40,000 unique items) under the condition that a new building was built to house it. Further donations would be made over the next 50 years, with each requiring new extensions to the main library building in order to accommodate the growing collection.
Despite being a place dedicated to reading and research, there’s a lot more on offer at the State Library of New South Wales. There’s a permanent collection of Australian artworks on show in the Level 2 gallery as well as a space for temporary exhibitions. One could also choose to spend an entire visit simply wandering around the building and admiring some of its architectural highlights, including the marble reproduction of the Tasman map and the cavernous silence of the main Mitchell building reading room.