State Library of NSW

State Library of NSW

This portfolio contains various drawings and watercolours of the State Library of NSW created over the past 25 years

The State Library of NSW is a large reference and research library open to the public. It is the oldest library in Australia, being the first library established in New South Wales (now a state of Australia).[4]The library is located on the corner of Macquarie Street, Sydney and Shakespeare Place, adjacent to the Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens. The library is a member of the National and State Libraries Australasia(NSLA) consortium.

The library was established in 1826 as the Australian Subscription Library at a meeting at the Sydney Hotel chaired by barrister John Mackaness. Library membership was subject to committee approval. Dr James Mitchell, father of David Scott Mitchell (who would later bequeath his collection to the library), was a committee member from 1832 to 1853 and Vice President from 1856 to 1869.

In December 1827 operations began in rented premises in Pitt Street and in the two years following, the Library led a peripatetic existence having been located a few years in George Street, Bridge Street, Macquarie Street and Macquarie Place. The library had financial problems and required more space to house its growing collections.Negotiations in 1838 to construct a new library building broke down over member unwillingness to broaden access to the library, however later negotiations were more successful and construction of a new library building began in 1843.The foundation stone for this new building, on the corner of Bent and Macquarie Streets, was laid by Alexander Macleay and it was opened in 1845.

Financial difficulties continued, and by 1869 the subscription library was in serious debt. The New South Wales Government was persuaded to buy it for £5100 (£1500 for the books and £3600 for the building). In September 1869, the Sydney Free Public Library opened its doors with a stock of 20 000 volumes.