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National Library of Australia Canberra

Home > Canberra > Exhibitions | Family | Free | Libraries | Literary
by Gypsy Rose (subscribe)
I love travelling, discovering hidden gems & food. Experience the journey on Instragram! @gypsy_compass. Owner of do check it out for grazing platters and more :)
Published November 3rd 2019
Visit the most extensive reference library in Australia
Filled with history, collections including Australian and General, Asian, Pictures and Manuscripts, Reading Rooms, and services, the National Library of Australia in Canberra is a must-add point of interest on your Canberra itinerary!

The Library was formally established by the passage of the National Library Act 1960 (Cth), and functioned as a National Library rather than strictly a Parliamentary Library, almost since its inception.

It is also responsible under the terms of the Act for "maintaining and developing a national collection library material, which includes a comprehensive collection of library material relating to Australia and the Australian people.

The National Library of Australia collections comprised of almost 6.5 million items as well as an additional of 15,506 metres of manuscript material in 2012-13.

The history of Library dates back to 1901 when a Commonwealth Parliamentary Library was established to serve the newly formed Federal Parliament of Australia.

The present Library building opened in 1968 by Prime Minister John Gorton and listed on the Australian Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004.

The Collections include:

Australiana which consists of the recording of the Australian cultural heritage.

Formats of material, from books, journals, websites, and manuscripts, photographs, maps, music, oral history recordings, manuscript papers, and ephemera.

Digital preservation.

Internet-accessible archive of selected Australian websites called the Pandora Archive.

Australian & General Collection- this includes books, serials, newspapers, maps, posters, music, and printed ephemera, as well as online publications and unpublished material such as manuscripts, pictures, and oral histories.

Rare book materials.

World-class Asian and Pacific collections which augment the Australiana collections.

Asian collections- The Library houses the largest and most actively developing research resource on Asia in Australia, as well as the largest Asian language collections in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pictures and Manuscripts- There is an extensive collection of pictures and manuscript collections. The Manuscript Collection contains around 26 million separate items, which covers an excess of 10,492 metres of shelf space in the Library. The Pictures collection focuses on Australian people, places and events, from European exploration of the South Pacific to contemporary events, artworks and photographs that are of educational value, and importance as historical documents.

The Reading Rooms- The Library is home to various reading rooms, including the ground floor Main Reading Room where the bulk of the Library's Internet access terminals are located, as well as the Newspaper and Family History Zone. Special Collections Reading Room is on the first floor and the Asian Collections on Level 3.

The National Library of Australia is also home to the Exhibition Gallery where fascinating shows can be seen, as well as up to three exhibitions each year exploring a variety of exciting topics from Australian advertising, photography art, literature, history, and design.

The Library also houses the ever-changing Treasures Gallery. The Gallery offers free access to some of Australia's most moving stories. Highlights include intriguing items, including the life of poet Henry Lawson and his fob watch and two of his pens, and Australia's first gold medal for women's swimming won by Fanny Durack at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.

Free tours are available daily at 11:30am.

You can also enjoy a discovery or behind-the-scenes tour, browse the bookshop, or enjoy a bite to eat at the award-winning Bookplate Café that offers beautiful lakeside views of Lake Burley Griffin.

Behind the Scenes Tours are available Thursdays at 2pm, and

Discovery Tours are held Saturdays at 2pm.
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Why? Explore all the reading rooms & exhibits
When: Daily, Monday-Thursday: 10am-8pm, Friday & Saturday: 10am-5pm & Sunday: 1:30pm-5pm
Where: Parkes Pl W, Canberra
Cost: Free
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by Natasha Stewart on 08/11/2011
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