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A brief history of the Mitchell Library at the State...

A brief history of the Mitchell Library at the State Library of NSW

image Mitchell Library in course of construction [photograph], March 1907. Image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW.

1826: The Australian Subscription Library, precursor of the State Library of NSW, opens in Pitt Street. It moves three times until finding a permanent home on Bent Street in 1845.

1853: The Australian Subscription Library becomes a proprietary corporation and is renamed The Australian Library and Literary Institution.

1865: Mr Justice Edward Wise bequeaths his collection of 6000 Australian books, pamphlets and newspapers to the New South Wales government pending the establishment of a free public library.

1869: The NSW Government assumes responsibility for the Library, which becomes the Sydney Free Public Library. Focus changes to a reference collection, with a strong emphasis on Australian material.

1895: The name changes to the Public Library of New South Wales, articulating its role and the importance of its collection.

1898: David Scott Mitchell offers his entire Australian collection and a substantial endowment to the NSW Government on the condition a new building in constructed to house it.

1906: NSW Government lays the foundation stone on 11 September.

1907: David Scott Mitchell dies in July.

1910: The new Mitchell Library (the northwest corner which now houses the Friends Room)opens to the public on 9 March with a reading room for the study of items from the Mitchell Collection.

1919: Sir William Dixson offers to present a collection of paintings to the Public Library, provided a wing is constructed to house it. Dixson also indicates that he is willing to leave his extensive print and manuscript collection to the state after his death.

1929: The Dixson Wing (the southwest corner facing the statue of Matthew Flinders) is opened.

1942: The Public Library extensions to the Mitchell Library Building are opened, including the magnificent vestibule, glassed ceiling reading room and the Shakespeare Room. The collections, staff and services of the Public Library are relocated from Bent Street to the expanded building, now called the Public Library of New South Wales. The Mitchell and Dixson collections continue to be used in the original Mitchell Reading Room and the public library collections are read in the Reference Library Reading Room (known as the Mitchell Library Reading Room since 1988).

1952: Sir William Dixson dies and leaves his collection and a generous endowment to the Library.

1964: Mitchell Library Building completed with the construction of the Domain Wing on the southeast corner.

1975: The name changes to the State Library of New South Wales.

1988: The Macquarie Street wing opens with a new reading room (now the State Reference Library). The Reference Library Reading Room becomes the Mitchell Library Reading Room in which the now very large Mitchell Library Collection, including special collections, are studied by those holding a reader’s ticket.

2001: The first major restoration to the Mitchell Library Reading Room completed, repairing the ceiling, installing network cabling and establishing the adjoining Sir William Dixson Research Library.

2007: Minor refurbishment of the Mitchell Library Reading Room completed in July.

2010: Centenary of the Mitchell Library.

2011: Refurbishment of the State Reference Library completed.

2012: Refurbishment of the entry level of the Macquarie Building completed.

2013: AMAZE: The Michael Crouch Gallery opened in the Mitchell Building.

2014: Work commences to restore the magnificent heritage features in the Mitchell Library Reading Room: cleaning and repairing the stained glass windows, removing the glass barrier around the stairs, replacing the floor covering, and more.

2014: The State Reference Library is renamed the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room.