2014 is the 75th anniversary of the NSW Library Act 1939 and we are celebrating 75 years of NSW public libraries.
In the 1930s, libraries in NSW were not in great health. There were only two free public libraries in the state, Sydney and Broken Hill. A report published in 1935 shockingly criticised Australian library institutions, describing them as “cemeteries of old and forgotten books”. That year a grassroots movement, the Free Library Movement, was formed and led a widespread campaign across NSW to establish free public libraries.
The NSW Library Act was passed by State Parliament on 3 November 1939 with bipartisan support. This landmark legislation led to the provision of free public library services for the people of NSW.
Seventy five years later, public libraries are going strong, with over 370 libraries across the state, 3.2 million members (that’s 44% of the population), 46 million loans per annum and over 35 million people visiting libraries each year.
We (the Public Library Services team at the State Library of NSW) have set up this Tumblr blog to post and share content to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Library Act 1939 and 75 years of public libraries in NSW. We encourage NSW public libraries to share stories and photos of their libraries – watch this space for more details.