Building Plan: Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the Library need a building plan?    
Our aim is to make the State Library of NSW fully accessible to the public for the first time, including parts of the historic Mitchell building rooftop. We want to ensure all of our readers and visitors — local and international — can enjoy what this great institution has to offer, including its collections, services, programs and facilities. Our new plan will make this aim a reality.  

How is the plan being funded?    
With funding support of $12.3M from the NSW Government, the State Library of NSW will be able to meet the following challenges:  

1. Accessible entry, Mitchell Building  
There is no satisfactory access to the entrance of the State Library’s historic Mitchell building for people with mobility issues, and finding the right solution without damaging the building’s heritage profile has been challenging. We have consulted with heritage experts and architects to come up with an elegant design for lift access next to the external Mitchell stairs. It will involve very minor alterations to one small part of the building’s façade. The proposed lift will open directly into the Mitchell building foyer through an existing room.    

A very small ramp will also be installed next the garden bed near the State Library sign to provide easy access to the Mitchell forecourt.    
 2. New accessible link between the Mitchell and Macquarie St buildings  
A new internal gallery will be created through a currently unused area of the Library’s basement in order to provide level access, connecting the Library’s Mitchell and Macquarie St buildings. This spacious area will be used as an additional gallery.  

 As part of this work, the staircase in the floor of the Mitchell Reading Room which was installed in the late 1980s will be removed and the floor of the Reading Room restored to its original 1940s glory, at the same time providing much-needed additional space for readers.  

3. Improved access to the Macquarie St building 
The entrance ramp leading from Macquarie Street into the Library’s Macquarie Street building is steep and does not comply with current standards for disability access. The Library will create a new ramped access route to rectify this issue.  

Will the building works affect the Library’s opening hours?    
No. The Library will remain open and will operate as usual throughout the building works, however, access to some areas of the building may be temporarily restricted. Noisy works will be scheduled outside of Library opening hours wherever possible, to minimise disruption to readers, visitors and neighbours on Macquarie Street. Measures will also be taken by our collection care experts to ensure that any collections housed in the surrounding areas are properly protected.    

Will I still be able to use the Mitchell Library Reading Room when the building works are taking place?    
Library services will continue throughout the planned works. We will endeavour to keep any disruptions to a minimum.   

What is being done to protect the heritage of the building?  
The Library will continue to work with expert heritage ​consultants and architects at every stage of this project.   

Why does the State Library need a rooftop venue?
Since the end of July 2017 we have been successfully turning the Library ‘inside out’ so our readers and visitors can access and enjoy the Library’s collections, services, programs and facilities. The Library’s vision to be fully accessible to all includes providing access to parts of the historic Mitchell building rooftop. The proposed rooftop venue would offer Sydneysiders and visitors —  both local and international, once travel restrictions are lifted —  a unique experience while at the same time helping to encourage people back into the CBD. Everyone over the age of 18 will be welcome.  

Will the rooftop venue impact the local building environment? 
No. We have come up with a new concept involving a minimum of disturbance to our neighbours in Macquarie Street. It would be accessible from the Domain and simply designed so as to involve no alteration to the building’s current profile. A DA for the proposed Mitchell rooftop venue has been lodged with the City of Sydney.

Will there be live entertainment?
Part of the DA seeks approval to play live acoustic music on select evenings. Sound levels would be strictly managed in accordance with DA consent.

When will the work start?   
Development applications for planned works have been lodged. Work will begin as soon as we receive the necessary approvals. 

Will there be future consultation opportunities?    
The development application for improving accessibility into and between the Library’s Mitchell and Macquarie St buildings is on public exhibition by the City of Sydney for feedback until Wednesday 9 December. A development application for the proposed Mitchell rooftop works is on public exhibition  for feedback until Tuesday 12 January 2021.

If you have any questions about the Library’s plans, please email: