Mitchell Library - State Library of NSW

Mitchell Library – State Library of NSW

Mitchell Library-State Library NSW in Macquarie Street forms part of the historic library complex. The bronze statue of Matthew Flinders includes a sculpture of his cat “Trim”.

Australiana was a collecting focus for the library and David Scott Mitchell’s collecting activities came to the attention of Henry Charles Lennox Anderson, Principal Librarian from 1893–1906. Anderson’s stated aim of making the library ‘a National, and not a Municipal, Library’ led him to collect Australiana material. However, Mitchell’s efforts to collect as many books and manuscripts relating to Australia, the Pacific, the East Indies and Antarctica, particularly from 1886 onwards, created competition for these materials.Anderson realised that the library did not have the budget or contacts to compete with Mitchell (from the 1880s onward, George Robertson gave Mitchell first right of refusal on Australiana material purchased by Angus & Robertson), and attempted to build a working relationship with Mitchell. In 1898, Mitchell announced his intention to leave his collection to the people of New South Wales, subject to conditions including that the collection would be known as “the Mitchell Library”. Although his offer was quickly accepted, construction of a new building to house the collection was delayed for several years.

Construction commenced in 1906, one year before Mitchell’s death. Following Anderson’s resignation in 1907, Frank Murcott Bladen (former head of the library’s lending branch) was appointed Principal Librarian. In 1909, Hugh Wright was appointed to the newly created position of Mitchell Librarian; the creation of this role was another condition of Mitchell’s bequest. Nita Kibble was another early member of the library staff.The Mitchell Library officially opened on 8 March 1910; Mungo MacCallum, then President of the Library Board of Trustees, spoke at the opening. The public library remained in the Bent Street building.