Opened in 1826, Sydney’s State Library of New South Wales is the oldest library in Australia and a repository for a huge and diverse collection of books. The iconic building is also home to over 1 million photos, maps and manuscripts. Architecturally grand from the outside, inside is modern, bright and attractive, and the Mitchell Library looks straight out of a movie with its book-lined walls.
The library also has five historic galleries in the Mitchell Wing which host both permanent and temporary free exhibitions — from collections of 18th-century Australian natural history illustrations to the diaries of Australian men and women writing in WWI.
Next to Parliament House and the Royal Botanic Gardens on Macquarie Street, the State Library of New South Wales also has its own book club. And on a regular basis there are also talks on literary, historical, and contemporary issues. Film screenings and workshops are often held at the library too.
You can also get to know the library better on one of its tours — there’s an introductory one if you want to get to know the services and resources, and there are also regular history and heritage tours. In the verandah and reading rooms are express computers that can be used for up to half an hour without a library card. There’s also free wifi available throughout the library, and, as well as having an onsite bookstore and gift shop, the library has its own cafe, Cafe Trim where you can pick up coffee and cake or a sandwich.
Near Martin Place train station on Macquarie Street, the State Library for New South Wales is open from Monday to Thursday from 9am-8pm. On Fridays, it’s open from 9am-5pm and from 10am-5pm on weekends. Cafe Trim is open from 7:30am-5pm Monday to Friday, and from 10:30am-4:30pm at the weekends. Entrance to the library is free.