State Library of New South Wales
State Library of New South Wales.
We walked through the main door of the classical building, stepping in to the impressive hall.........
..........dominated by Abel Tasman’s map of Australia on the floor of the foyer of the Mitchell Library.
The library started as the Australian Subscription Library in 1826. It was then purchased for £5100 by the New South Wales Government in 1869 and became the Sydney Free Public Library. In 1895 it was renamed the Public Library of New South Wales until its most recent name change in 1975, when it became the State Library of New South Wales. A lovely space.
History: Sydney book lover David Scott Mitchell (1836-1907) began collecting books seriously in the 1860’s. He started with English literature, especially Elizabethan drama, fine examples of illuminated manuscripts and incunabula (books printed before 1501). In 1877 he moved to Darlinghurst where he led an increasingly reclusive life in his terrace house surrounded by his beloved books and pet cockatoo. By the 1880’s, Mitchell had turned his attention almost exclusively to collecting Australiana, with the ambitious goal to collect a copy of every single document, no matter its format, relating to Australia, the south-western Pacific, the East Indies and Antarctica.
Anything Australian was of value to Mitchell; his vast collections mixed the astonishing with the everyday, the big ideas with the commonplace and the greatest names in history and literature with the incidental. On Mitchell’s death in July 1907, he gifted his collections to the Public (now State) Library of New South Wales with an endowment of £70,000 to fund collection additions. As a condition of the gift, the NSW government was required to construct a building to house the collections to be known as the Mitchell Library, now part of the State Library’s Macquarie Street precinct. No sooner had the Mitchell Library opened than its collections were being added to, and this ongoing collecting drive has been a hallmark of its development. Many thousands of items have been purchased or donated over the years and legal deposit provisions ensure a copy of every item newly published in NSW is stored in the Mitchell. The Library’s collections continue to document the history, life, landscape, culture and achievement of the people of NSW through a wide range of formats including ephemera, sound recordings and electronic resources. Over a century on, the Mitchell Library’s collections remain an important source for both historical and contemporary research and an integral part of the Australia community.
A ‘proper’ library.
The kardex drawers. We chatted to Johnnie Wayne from Texas, one of the gaurds and went to look around the rest of the building.
Even more of a wow from upstairs.
Looking down from the Michael Crouch Gallery.
Later, we went for another look. We were en route to the stairs down to the lower gallery to see Captain Cook memorabilia.
After bimbling around the lower exhibition we passed the Faculty of Law, up the stairs through the bookstore to the cafe.
........out through the door on the ‘modern’ side on Macquarie Street.
ALL IN ALL AN IMPOSING BUILDING OF GREAT BEAUTY
AN AMAZING MIX OF OLD AND NEW