Join us for an exciting program of talks and seminars on literary, historical and contemporary issues, together with presentations about, and showings of, the Library's rich collections.

You can also listen to selected talks online.


Tuesday 2 June 2015, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings - Fully cooked and partially digested

Join Nancy Cushing as she asks the questions:
‘What is for breakfast?’ and ‘Why?’

Nancy will focus on the gradual shift away from the colonial era’s meat-based breakfast — of which Australians were so proud — to the cold, packaged cereal norm of the later 20th century.

Dr Nancy Cushing is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Newcastle. In 2014 she was the Library’s Merewether Scholar. She has been writing and publishing on human–animal relations in Australia for several years.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

Copyfight logo

Thursday 4 June 2015, 6.00 PM

Talk: Copyfight

We expect to be able to log on and read, watch or listen to anything, anywhere, anytime. Then copy it, share it, quote it, sample it, remix it. Does this leave writers, designers, film-makers, musicians, photographers, artists, and software and game developers with any rights at all?

Have we forgotten how to pay for content? Are big corporations and copyright lawyers the only ones making money? Or are we looking in the wrong direction as illegal downloading becomes the biggest industry of all and copyright violation a way of life?

Join Phillipa McGuinness, Linda Jaivin, Tim Sherratt and Tim Derricourt as they discuss the changing and complex area of copyright.

Image of man installing solar roof panels

Thursday 11 June 2015, 6.00 PM

Talk: Sundown, sunrise: how Australia can finally get solar power right

There has been much speculation that the falling costs of solar PV and batteries could result in a mass exodus of consumers from dependence on the traditional electricity grid.

This public forum will discuss the latest Grattan Institute report that tests these claims and explore the consequences if this future was to eventuate.

Yeats 2015 logo

Saturday 13 June 2015, 2.30 PM

Special event: Yeats: Illusion and Disillusionment

William Butler Yeats is one of the most quoted poets of the past hundred years and one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.

In honour of the 150th anniversary of his birth (13 June 1865) we revisit his best-known works, both as poetry readings and as musical performances. As a poet he was inspired by mythology and mysticism. We will learn of how his youthful idealism was transformed into disillusionment through his experience of living through World War I and the Irish War of Independence. Join us for an afternoon of discussion, poetry and music


Tuesday 16 June 2015, 6.00 PM

Talk: Photos1440 – Photography talks

With Mags King, Managing Photo Editor for the Sydney Morning Herald and Sun Herald, and photographers Janie Barrett, Steven Siewert and Nic Walker.

In association with the Photos 1440 exhibition.


Wednesday 17 June 2015, 6.00 PM

Talk: Real: Living a Balanced Life

Join Victoria Alexander as she talks about her latest book, Real: Living a Balanced Life. Alexander will explore the simplified and honest approach to life and living documented through the collection of photographs she took in 27 different countries.

In association with the Photos 1440 exhibition.

Walkley media talks speech bubble

Thursday 18 June 2015, 6.00 PM

Talk: Walkley Media Talks - The Power of Voice: Using radio to tackle sensitive issues

Our panel of radio and audio journalists and storytellers will tease out just why radio documentaries, podcasts and serials are so powerful — and how they harness that power to engage their audience.

This event is part of the Walkley Media Talks series.


Thursday 18 June 2015, 6.00 PM

Special event: The grip of the grape: Taylors premium wine tasting event

Join a table of friends and Mitchell Taylor, Managing Director of Taylors Wines, for a fabulous night looking at the history of winemaking in Australia. Mitchell will showcase a selection of special Taylors wines and engage you with his passion for winemaking. Our curators will provide an exclusive viewing of the Library’s extensive archives on the history of the wine industry.

Thursday 18 June 2015, 6.00 PM

Special event: Out of the Vaults: Daguerreotype to Digital

With over a million images, from Australia’s earliest photos to yesterday’s digital snapshots, the Library’s photography collections provide intriguing evidence of technological, social and artistic change.

Come and see photographic treasures from the Library’s premier collection.

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

Friday 19 June 2015, 10.30 AM

Talk: Reliving the 60s

Remember miniskirts, flower children, anti-Vietnam War protests and the day of the moon landing? The swinging sixties heralded the start of women’s liberation, the conservation movement and a popular culture increasingly influenced by international trends. Come to reminisce or discover an era you missed out on!

This event is part of the Lifelong Learning series.

Turning Digital Image

Friday 26 June 2015, 10.00 AM

Talk: Turning Digital: delights, dangers & drama

Galleries, libraries, archives and museums (the GLAM sector) — locally and globally — are embracing the possibilities of the digital. This seminar will showcase the opportunities and challenges of turning our collections digital.

How can we collaborate more effectively and build online spaces that encourage research, engagement and creativity?

Dr Simon Chaplin

Wednesday 1 July 2015, 6.15 PM

Talk: 2015 Ben Haneman Memorial Lecture by Dr Simon Chaplin

Dr Chaplin is a distinguished medical historian and, since 2014, Director of Culture & Society at the Wellcome Trust in London. Dr Chaplin has overseen the physical and digital transformation of this great medical history resource into one of the world’s leading innovative libraries.

This event is a special offer to the Friends of the Library as part of the 14th Biennial Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine.

In recognition of bibliophile, Library Friend and donor Dr Ben Haneman AM, who donated his extraordinary Cervantes collection of over 1100 editions to the State Library in 2002.

NBA logo

Monday 6 July 2015, 11.00 AM

Special event: Presenting the National Biography Award shortlist

Be the first to hear from some of the acclaimed authors shortlisted for the 2015 National Biography Award as they discuss and read from their works.

The National Biography Award encourages the highest standards of writing in the fields of biography and autobiography and promotes public interest in these genres. The award’s success recognises the continuing interest in stories about ordinary people and their extraordinary lives.

This event is part of the Biography Week series.


Tuesday 7 July 2015, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings: 'What Grandma did'

Alma Smith and her daughter Alva (Atkins) were tireless workers for the United Aborigines Mission, whose careers represent almost 100 years of religious engagement with Aboriginal communities throughout NSW (1920–2006). The Smith family’s diaries, papers and photographs, generously donated to the Mitchell Library, document the social histories of communities such as La Perouse, Purfleet and Coraki.

Adrian Atkins is a proud Aboriginal man (Anaiwan/Kamilaroi/Wonorua) completing his history degree (University of Sydney), and the adopted son of Alva and David Atkins. Join Adrian for a personal, intergenerational survey of the lives and work of two incredibly determined women and their impact in rural communities.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

Hansom Cab poster image

Wednesday 8 July 2015, 12.30 PM

Talk: Fergus Hume Lecture

The Fergus Hume Society has recently been incorporated with the aim of facilitating and promoting engagement — for enjoyment, scholarship and research — with the life and works of Fergus Hume.

Dr Lucy Sussex was born in New Zealand and now lives in Australia. She has degrees in English and Librarianship from Monash and Cardiff University in Wales, and is a researcher, editor and writer. She is also a literary archaeologist, rediscovering and republishing the 19th-century Australian crime writers Mary Fortune and Ellen Davitt. She has won several Ditmar and Aurealis awards. Lucy’s most recent work, Blockbuster!:Fergus Hume and The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, published by Text, will be out mid-2015.


Wednesday 8 July 2015, 6.00 PM

Special event: Out of the Vaults: Sites Unseen

Join us as we share the stories of significant Indigenous sites and help us celebrate the preservation of Indigenous documentary heritage.


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

The Little Red Book cover

Saturday 11 July 2015, 1.00 PM

Seminar: Censorship, free speech and public discourse

If John Adams is correct and liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people then how can censorship in its many guises be justified? Is the freedom to say what others question or reject without repercussion under threat? Will free speech become a privilege and not a right as we move into the 21stcentury?

In this seminar distinguished speakers will include Gillian Triggs, Lucy Taksa and Meredith Burgmann.

Walkley Speech Bubble

Thursday 16 July 2015, 6.00 PM

Talk: Walkley Media Talks - The Art of Opinion

In a sea of public opinions, we explore the enduring value and craft of informed opinion and commentary. From the opening salvo to the knockout punch, great commentary keeps us talking about the big issues. From razor-sharp cartoons to political critique and light-hearted columns, our panel explores the best — and worst — of opinion.

This event is part of the Walkley Media Talks series.

The Simple Act of Reading Book cover image

Saturday 25 July 2015, 2.30 PM

Talk: The Simple Act of Reading

Join writer and editor Debra Adelaide and panel as they discuss The Simple Act of Reading, a collection of essays and memoir pieces on the topic of reading — in particular what it means for writers to be readers and how that has shaped their life. Contributors to the collection include Joan London, Delia Falconer, Tegan Bennett Daylight, Kate Forsyth, Gail Jones, Malcolm Knox, David Malouf and more. The Simple Act of Reading supports Sydney Story Factory by emphasising the importance of reading in shaping an individual’s future.

NBA logo 2015

Monday 3 August 2015, 11.00 AM

Special event: National Biography Award 2015

Join us for the announcement of the National Biography Award on Monday 3 August, Australia’s richest prize for biographical writing and memoir.

Established in 1996 to encourage the highest standards of writing in biography and autobiography and to promote public interest in these genres, the award is administered and presented by the State Library of NSW on behalf of benefactors Dr Geoffrey Cains and Mr Michael Crouch AO, and the State Library Foundation.

This event is part of the Biography Week series.


Tuesday 4 August 2015, 11.00 AM

Talk: Scholarly Musings: A suitable residence

Among the letters, receipts and accounts in the Mitchell Library’s Macarthur papers are some very different treasures: a complex series of plans that relate to John Macarthur’s building ambitions.

Though most of these designs never left the drawing board, this talk will examine Macarthur’s intentions, the careers of his designers and their plans, and what they reveal of Sydney’s infant building industry.

Scott Hill is a curator with Sydney Living Museums. Long fascinated by John Macarthur’s architectural interests, Scott’s PhD research examines the design evolution of Camden Park throughout its 30-year construction.

This event is part of the Scholarly Musings series.

State Library

Wednesday 12 August 2015, 10.30 AM

Talk: Where do I start? Discover the State Library

For the first-time user, this talk introduces the fantastic services and collections available at the State Library and provides a good idea of where to begin research.

This event is part of the Lifelong Learning series.

Image of a gavel

Wednesday 12 August 2015, 6.00 PM

Talk: Can there be law without violence?

Is it possible to establish clear limits to how the law can use violence? Or is the violence from which the law is meant to protect us internal to the law itself?

Peg Birmingham, Anna Yeatman and James Martel discuss the relationship between law and violence.


Friday 14 August 2015, 10.00 AM

Special event: The real thing

Join us for a glimpse at the exciting material the Library has acquired over the past 12 months as we continue to add to the Library’s intriguing and significant collections. The Library’s collection documents early European exploration in the Pacific and the search for the Great South Land through to contemporary life, recording the peoples and cultures of NSW, Australia and Oceania.
Walkley Speech Bubble

Thursday 20 August 2015, 6.00 PM

Talk: Walkley Media Talks - Rolling Live Coverage: Risky Business

In an age when social media is the platform for breaking news, dramatic unfolding stories like the Martin Place siege can place the demand for constant media updates in a direct challenge to police and security operations, even leaving civilian lives in the balance.

In the wake of that event, what are the ethical and safety implications? How can journalists and newsrooms handle delicate police operations without impeding the public’s right to know?

This event is part of the Walkley Media Talks series.


Thursday 27 August 2015, 6.00 PM

Special event: Out of the Vaults: Monsters

This Out of the Vaults is dedicated to the fascinating mythological beasts and monsters that decorate the rare books, manuscripts and maps in the Library’s collections.

Many of these legendary creatures have their origins in writings from Ancient Greece and the Middle Ages all the way through to accounts of 18th century seafarers who were wary of encountering dangerous sea creatures as they sailed into the vast oceans beyond the equator.

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

Image of Randolph Stow

Saturday 29 August 2015, 2.30 PM

Talk: Honouring Australian Writers

In its annual Honouring Australian Writers series, the NSW Writers’ Centre pays tribute to writers who have made an important contribution to our literary culture.

In 2015 we turn to the West Australian writer Randolph Stow. Perhaps best known for To The Islands, which won the Miles Franklin Award, and The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, he was also a poet and reviewer.

sandstone building image

Wednesday 16 September 2015, 10.30 AM

Talk: Exploring Colonial Sydney

Join State Library staff to discover the story of Sydney from 1788 to 1900. We will look at manuscripts, maps, paintings and art works that tell stories of early Sydney. Practise using the Library's catalogues and other search tools, and discover the many formats that can be researched to discover old Sydney.

This event is part of the Lifelong Learning series.

70s women

Tuesday 10 November 2015, 10.30 AM

Talk: Reliving the 70s

The 1970s was a decade of great change in Australia with developments in women’s rights, Indigenous rights, politics, music and fashion. Dig out those flares and platform shoes and come along to see and hear about some of the highlights from our collections.

This event is part of the Lifelong Learning series.

State Library

Thursday 12 November 2015, 10.30 AM

Talk: Where do I start? Discover the State Library

For the first-time user, this talk introduces the fantastic services and collections available at the State Library and provides a good idea of where to begin research.

This event is part of the Lifelong Learning series.

Tuesday 8 December 2015, 10.30 AM

Talk: Christmas in the Colony

Join us for a festive show and tell and discover how Christmas was celebrated in the colonies. Which traditions linger and which have faded away? Examples from the collections tell their own story of the time with references to the warm weather and local flora and fauna. See original newspapers, pictures and Christmas cards held in the Library’s rich collections.

This event is part of the Lifelong Learning series.

Quick Links

The State Library provides a free Information Request Service.

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

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