News

22 October 2014

Learn more about upcoming works in the Mitchell Library Reading Room

This coming November a series of works will be undertaken in the Mitchell Library Reading Room as part of the planned improvements to the Mitchell building which began in early September.

In order to complete these works the Mitchell Library Reading Room, including the Special Collections area, will be temporarily closed from Saturday 8 November until Wednesday 12 November 2014.

During this time the following work will be done to restore the room’s heritage features:

  • The current Special Collections area in the Mitchell Library Reading Room will be extended, creating more room for researchers and readers to access the Library’s original materials, related reference books and the card catalogues for manuscripts and Mitchell printed books.
  • A glass petition will be installed to separate the Special Collections and general reading areas, creating a secure space to work with the Library’s rare and original materials.
  • The glazed screen near the entrance to the Reading Room will be replaced with a low frameless glass balustrade. This will restore access to the room through both sets of the original entrance doors.
  • The seven staircases in the Reading Room that led to the Galleries above and to the underground stacks will each be fitted with new bronze gates to improve collection security.
  • The stained glass windows will be cleaned and lighting upgraded to provide a more favourable work environment for researchers and readers.
  • In response to feedback from visitors regarding noise and glare in the Reading Room the current Marmoleum floor covering will be removed and carpet tiles will be laid.

Readers and visitors who have used the Reading Room recently will have already seen improvements as the first of the Library’s newly refurbished furniture is returned to the room.

The work to refurbish and clean more than 150 heritage pieces of furniture is being done in partnership with the Upholstery Business Unit of Cessnock Correctional Centre. The State Library of NSW is proud to support this valuable community initiative that will have a positive impact on the lives of those involved in the project. Many hours have already been spent carefully restoring the heritage pieces, and the craftsmanship shows in the results.

To ensure readers and visitors can continue to use the Reading Room, furniture will be worked on and returned to the room progressively. Once this work is complete, the furniture layout will reflect the original configuration from 1942 when the Reading Room was first opened.

For researchers and readers wishing to access Special Collections during the temporary closure, a limited service will be available from the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room (formerly the State Reference Library). For information about access to collections and services please speak to Library staff in the Special Collections area, 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 in the newly restored space.

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 Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room.

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.

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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