20 October 2014

Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room announced

The State Library of NSW has paid tribute to Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO following her recent retirement by renaming its major reference library in her honour.
The State Reference Library will now be known as the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room.
This public tribute recognises her valuable and continuing support and affection for our Library, as well as her substantial and widely applauded commitment and extraordinary contributions to the state of New South Wales.

Since the opening of the State Reference Library in the new Macquarie building in 1988, the room has had a proud history of providing local and family historians, researchers, students and the general public with access to a diverse collection of Australian and international material. While the name will change, the collection will remain as the State Reference Library.

For more information about the announcement view the media release.

12 October 2014

Restoring the Mitchell Library: Reading Room closed 8 – 12 November

As part of planned improvements, the Mitchell Library Reading Room will be temporarily closed from Saturday 8 November until Wednesday 12 November 2014.

During this time work will be done to:

  • Enhance the Special Collections area with additional seating and services
  • Replace the floor covering
  • Remove the glass barrier around the stairs
  • Install a glass barrier to separate the research and general reading areas

Accessing the collection

For researchers and readers wishing to access Special Collections during this time, a limited service will be available in the State Reference Library.

Resources usually available on open access in the Special Collections area, such as microforms, Mitchell collections (940 – 999) and collection guides, will be temporarily unavailable.

From 1 – 21 November 2014 access to some Library materials, such as the Pictures, will be limited temporarily as we prepare for works and take measure to ensure the care of the collections by isolating all materials in the vicinity with protective covering.

Please speak to Library staff in the Special Collections area for information about access to collections and services, or contact Ask a Librarian on (02) 9273 1414.

The Mitchell Reading Room will reopen on Thursday 13 November and researchers and readers will once again be able to read and work with our rich collections supported by our expert librarians.

11 September 2014

Changes to venue hire

The State Library is undertaking a major project to restore the Mitchell building, which includes the Mitchell Library Reading Room.

As part of planned improvements to the Mitchell Library we are establishing new temporary exhibition rooms on the first floor of the Mitchell building that will showcase the State Library’s collection as well as local and international works from other institutions.

To make way for these new facilities, the seminar rooms located on Level 1 of the Mitchell building will no longer be available to hire. We are hoping to create replacements but they will not be ready for some time.

Work is being carried out throughout the Mitchell building until the end of this year may also impact on other venues located in the Mitchell building. Please contact our team to discuss venue hire options.

The new temporary exhibition rooms will open on 1 November 2014 with an exhibition of works by artist Lynley Dodd.

To learn more about the Library’s plans to restore the Mitchell and to keep up to date with its progress, please visit our website.

2 September 2014

Work begins to restore the Mitchell Reading Room

Thanks to the generosity of our passionate supporters, close to $1 million has been raised to undertake the restoration of the Mitchell Library Reading Room.

Work is now underway to restore the heritage features of the Reading Room. Heritage furniture is being cleaned and repaired, and furnishings not in keeping with heritage style will be removed.

To ensure readers and visitors can continue to use the Reading Room, furniture will be worked on and returned to the room progressively. You may notice some changes to furniture layout in the Reading Room as this work is done.

Learn how you can support this project through the Mitchell Campaign.

5 August 2014

Remarkable tale of intrepid 19th century female celebrity wins nation's richest biography award

An engrossing biography of Jane Franklin – indefatigable traveller and writer, formidable consort of Tasmanian governor and Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin – has won the $25,000 National Biography Award, Australia’s richest prize for life writing.

Tasmanian historian Alison Alexander won from a field of 61 entries for The Ambitions of Jane Franklin, Victorian Lady Adventurer, published by Allen & Unwin.

The judges – award-winning biographer Jacqueline Kent, critic and founding editor of the Sydney Review of Books, James Ley and Professor Melanie Nolan, General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography – praised Alexander’s research as well as the quality of her writing.
Chair Jacqueline Kent observed: “Drawing on a huge body of hitherto unpublished research as well as Franklin’s voluminous letters and journals, Alexander has written a full and astute biography of a highly intelligent, vital and strong-minded woman determined to transcend the limited expectations of her age and class.”

“The book is impressively light on its feet, and Alexander guides the reader through Franklin’s story with a great deal of writerly skill.”

NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive Alex Byrne added: “Jane Franklin was probably the most widely travelled woman of her day, and her remarkable intellect and intense curiosity stamp her as an extraordinary governor’s wife. This is a wonderfully vibrant read.”

The other shortlisted authors, who each receive $1000, are:

  • Steve Bisley, Stillways, A Memoir (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Janet Butler, Kitty’s War (University of Queensland Press)
  • John Cantwell and Greg Bearup, Exit Wounds: One Australian’s War on Terror (Melbourne University Publishing)
  • Sheila Fitzpatrick, A Spy in the Archives (Melbourne University Publishing)
  • Gideon Haigh, On Warne (Penguin Books Australia).

The National Biography Award winner announcement marks the beginning of Biography Week (4 – 8 August), a public events program at the State Library of NSW.

Dr Linda Jaivin, novelist, translator and essayist, will talk about the truth in literature when she delivers the National Biography Award lecture on 6 August at 6pm.

The National Biography Award is administered and presented by the State Library on behalf of Dr Geoffrey Cains and Michael Crouch AO.

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NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: (02) 9273 1414

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