The National Library of Australia is more than just your average library. Not only is there a brilliant selection of books, but with other facilities, including a gallery, a bookshop, and a cafe, the library has just about everything you can need. Located in Parkes near other popular spots like the National Gallery and Questacon, it isn't just a space for books and research, but an important stop on Canberra's cultural circuit.
The National Library has a strong focus on material relating to Australia and Australian people. This can include books, but also branches out to broader things like maps, photographs, recordings, journals, official papers, and more. If you're looking to research something in particular this can be a great place, especially for students or budding historians. Even if you're not on a research session, the books are still interesting to browse. Along with all the Australian collections there are plenty of other collections on the shelves.
The library has all of your usual services. This includes reading rooms, photo-copying, learning programs, and research guides. There are internet and multimedia services available too. If you get a library card, you'll be able to bring some of the books home with you, although why not pull up a seat in the comfortable reading room and enjoy the peaceful library atmosphere.
You also can't go past a visit to the Treasures Gallery. Here you'll find a selection of the library's collection, from books, to artefacts, to maps, to paintings. There are some really interesting things kept here, and the library is always changing the collection on display. It is only a small display, so you'll easily get a chance to browse through it when you're in the library.
There is also the bookshop and cafe when you're done. Grab a drink and a bite to eat in the cafe, admiring the beautifully coloured stain glass windows, or head along to the bookshop. You'll find plenty of fiction and non fiction books in the bookshop, which you'll be able to take home to continue your reading later.
The National Library might not be top on the list of Canberra's best cultural spots, but that doesn't mean it should be left off the list. Not only is it an interesting place to explore, but it can be an incredibly useful place for anyone needing information contained within its walls.