All Events

Public events at the State Library include talks on literary, historical and contemporary issues, movies, workshops and courses as well as presentations about, and showings of, the Library's rich collections.

You can also listen to selected talks online.

Payment Policy

All listed prices include GST. There is a 20% cancellation fee for events that are over $50 cancelled within 48 hours of an event. No refund applies to events under $50. If payment has not been received, unclaimed tickets will be sold 15 minutes after the event commences.


Friday 28 November, 10.00 AM

Special event: Out of the Vaults: Corroboree

Join the State Library’s Aboriginal librarians for an hour long, up-close look at some of the Indigenous treasures from the collection.

This event is part of the Corroboree Sydney series.


Friday 28 November, 12.00 PM

Movie: Lunchtime Film Festival (with Blackfella Films)

Join us for free lunchtime screenings of the critically acclaimed Australian television drama series Redfern Now. Every weekday throughout the Corroboree festival.

This event is part of the Corroboree Sydney series.

social networking

Tuesday 2 December, 10.30 AM

Course: Social Networking for Beginners

Communicate with friends and family and make new contacts using two of the most popular social networking sites on the web: Facebook and Twitter. Set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account. You will need an email account before attending the course. Basic computing skills are required.

This event is part of the Lifelong Learning series.

Thursday 4 December, 5.30 PM

Talk: The Calligrapher's Stage with Massimo Polello

The Library in association with the Australian Calligraphers Association present internationally renowned calligrapher Massimo Polello. Massimo is President of the Turin Calligraphers’ Guild Dal Segno alla Scrittura and owner of Gallery ABC Atelier Studio. He also works with the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence. Join Massimo as he talks about his works and passion for calligraphy.

Australia Under Surveillance cover

Tuesday 9 December, 12.30 PM

Talk: ‘Australia under Surveillance’ - Author Talk with Frank Moorhouse

ASIO has kept a file on Frank Moorhouse since he was 17. Frank has decided it is time to report on ASIO. We are just beginning to evolve new attitudes and behaviour appropriate for a society in which nothing can be assumed to be private, especially at the governmental level. At the same time we are trying to discern what it is that constitutes, or not, an offence against national security. We are also facing the question of what degree of terrorist threat we are prepared to endure so as to retain freedom of expression and what might be loosely called the ‘traditional privacies’. The paradox is an old one: which of our rights do we temporarily (or forever) relinquish in order to prevent external threats to our society which is based on such rights?
Forward Thinking - Book List

Tuesday 9 December, 6.00 PM

Talk: Forward Thinking: Prime Minister’s Summer Reading List

The Grattan Institute will launch their annual Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister on Tuesday 9 December. Now in its sixth year, the list contains books and articles that we believe the Prime Minister – or indeed any Australian – will find stimulating over the summer break. They are all good reads that we think say something interesting about Australia and its future. Geraldine Doogue will join Grattan’s CEO, John Daley, in a discussion of the list.

Kids Reading 2

Wednesday 10 December, 6.00 PM

Talk: The Book Stack: Summer Reads

The summer holidays are approaching — what will you be reading? Bring a book you have read, loved and would recommend for reading on the beach, in an aeroplane or on a warm afternoon. Chat to anyone in the room and find someone to swap with. Industry experts and Library staff will briefly discuss their favourite summertime reads.

This event is part of the The Book Stack series.

SRL verandah

Thursday 11 December, 10.30 AM

Workshop: Where do I start? Library Website & Catalogues

This hands-on workshop provides an overview of the services and resources available from the State Library website. Explore highlights of the Library’s collections, take a guided tour of the catalogues and browse our exhibitions and events. Basic computing skills are required

This event is part of the Lifelong Learning series.


Thursday 11 December, 6.00 PM

Special event: Sydney Map Group event

Ljilyana Ortalja-Baird, editor of the Journal for the International Map Collectors' Society will be giving a brief presentation -  "Thoughts of an editor of a journal on Antique Maps". A selection of maps recently acquired by the Library will also be on display at the event.

Friday 16 January, 6.00 PM

Talk: WWI Diggers' songs, poems, yarns and humour with Warrn Fahey

Cultural historian, author and performer Warren Fahey AM presses nostalgia buttons as he explains the role of song and humour on the front lines of the Great War. The concert is accompanied by archival photographs and images. Based on Warren’s book Diggers’ Songs.

View near Woolwich in Kent Shewing [sic] The Employment of the Convicts from the Hulks, C.1800, printed for Bowles & Carver

Tuesday 20 January, 12.30 PM

Talk: Alias Blind Larry: The Mostly True Memoir of James Laurence the Singing Convict with Rob Wills

Rob Wills contends that most convict memoirs are saturated with piety and penitence. But not James Laurence (also known as Blind Larry). Laurence rejoices in his rollicking, disreputable life singing, conning and thieving his way between bouts of incarceration. His memoir, penned while serving seven years on Norfolk Island, takes us around the 19th century world. How his manuscript found its way into the famous Dixson collection at the Mitchell Library is itself a fascinating story.

Thursday 22 January, 12.30 PM

Talk: Bitesize Lunchtime Talk: The Duke

In the 19th century, King Kamehameha prophesised that one man would bring fame to the Hawaiian Islands. Many believe that the great waterman, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, was that man, but few know the story of how several young Australians influenced the course of Duke’s life. Legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku is credited by many as the man who popularised surfing in Australia when he visited Freshwater Beach in 1914. His statue still remains on the Freshwater headland and his customised board is retained by their Surf Club. In the centenary year of Duke’s visit to Sydney, a panel consisting of authors Nick Carroll, John Ogden, and Gary Osmond PhD will discuss his legacy.
Martin Sharp, Yellow House, Kings Cross 1970-71 (c) Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

Thursday 22 January, 6.00 PM

Special event: Out of the Vaults: A Constant State of Non-Control: The Yellow House at Kings Cross

The Yellow House, an artists’ collaboration in Kings Cross in the 1970s, was one of Sydney’s first multimedia art spaces. Constantly evolving and always welcoming to creative people, the house was launched by Martin Sharp in 1970. It was quite unlike anything
Sydney had ever seen: nearly every surface was touched by artists, and designs would often change overnight. Join Mitchell Librarian Richard Neville to examine the Library’s records documenting this remarkable pop culture phenomenon.

This event is part of the Out of the Vaults series.

Tuesday 3 February, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings: Luck of the Irish

The luck of the Irish can be chronically bad, and that’s how it looked when the transport Hive sank off the NSW coast in 1835 with 250 Irish convicts on board. Their luck turned, however, and all survived only to land in a penal colony where the rule of the lash and the chain gang was still at its height. As the first European minority in Australia, we often assume the Irish faced discrimination, poverty and sectarianism from the outset. Yet many found the colony a place of unexpected opportunity where they helped create ‘the Australian way of life’. Join Babette Smith as she discusses the story behind her latest book, The Luck of the Irish.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

Photo by Hurley 1917

Tuesday 10 February, 12.30 PM

Talk: The Importance of Animals in the Australian Imperial Force During WWI with Nathan Wise

The bulk of daily work for both the men of the Australian Light Horse and the Imperial Camel Corps revolved around their mounts. Care for those animals involved a range of daily tasks such as watering, feeding and grooming. The animals provided men with mobility, fulfilling this requirement often to the point of collapsing with exhaustion. This paper will draw upon soldiers’ diaries and letters held in the State Library to explore the nature and treatment of animals during the First World War.
Cover, 'Startling Comics', C.1942 A Frank Johnson Publication, Sydney

Thursday 12 February, 6.00 PM

Talk: Curator Talk with Peter Doyle

Pulp Confidential curator Peter Doyle will talk about the quick and dirty publishing world inhabited by Sydney publisher Frank Johnson in the 1940s and 50s. Peter will talk about Johnson’s papers, an exceptionally rich collection of classic early ‘pulp’ art. He will also discuss the world of Frank Johnson Publications, its artists and authors.


Thursday 12 February, 6.00 PM

Special event: Out of The Vaults: Erotica

Back by popular demand! Many libraries collect erotic literature, few have collections of erotic literature and art dating back to the 15th century. The Library’s small collection of erotica is founded on the private collections of David Scott Mitchell and Sir William Dixson. The collection includes humorous novels and poetry, Japanese Shunga, Victorian postcards, drawings and ephemera. At this special adults only event we will truly be bringing the collection ‘out of the vaults’.

This event is part of the Out of the Vaults series.

Walkley Talks Logo

Thursday 26 February, 6.00 PM

Talk: Walkley Media Talks - Jail for Journalism: Truth-Telling and The First Casualties Of War

In the wake of new terror laws in Australia, journalists and whistleblowers now face up to 10 years jail for reporting on sensitive areas of national security. The first Walkley Media Talk of 2015 will examine what the jailing of journalists for reporting the truth will mean for Australian journalism and democracy. What does it mean to report ‘in the national interest’? Is it the duty of journalists to toe the government’s national security line, or is it more important than ever to dig up the truth? How does the fourth estate decide which information is important enough to make public, and which to avoid airing? How do journalists weigh up the consequences of whistleblowing — personally, professionally and for the public?

This event is part of the Walkley Media Talks series.

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Macquarie St, Sydney
NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: (02) 9273 1414

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