The Library is open. See frequently asked questions.

Christmas survival guide

Already feeling anxious at the thought of gift buying, long queues, and endless ‘to do’ lists? We’ve pulled together some ideas to get you through the silly season. Read on to find out how you can give back, get involved, get inspired, and also find some time for yourself amidst the madness. 

1. Get crafty at the Library's Planting Dreams exhibition

Paper flowers

Create your own paper flower and add it to the interactive garden that floral artist Lisa Cooper and paper-engineer Benja Harney designed for our exhibition Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens. Get inspired to plant your own #dreamgarden at the Grand Garden Designs exhibition, featuring specially commissioned photographs of some of the state's most spectacular gardens. Round out your experience with a wander through the spectacular Royal Botanic Gardens, just across the road. Or if you can’t make it into the Library, download our colouring in templates based on items in the exhibition for some mindful colouring in time (or to keep the kids entertained!).

2. Explore the historic Sir Joseph Banks archive

open book full of script writing

Register now to join in the global effort to transcribe 7,000 pages of the Sir Joseph Banks archive which has recently been digitised. The archive includes letters from James Cook and early Governors, invoices, accounts, maps and watercolour drawings - documenting the far-reaching influence Banks had on the fledgling Botany Bay colony. Not only will you have the chance to discover fascinating stories in the archive, you will help to make it accessible to all, and best of all you can do it all from the comfort of your own home using our online transcription tool. 

3. Get carolling 

David Jones Choir singing in the store, Christmas 1952-1954
View collection item detail

Join a local choir and sing your way through the season. Check out the Library’s very own staff choir Off the Shelf getting into the Christmas spirit!

4. Discover the story of the Garden Palace

Time capsule and piece of molten glass

Don’t miss the chance to see fascinating items relating to the Garden Palace, on display in the Amaze Gallery, including a time capsule and piece of molten glass which survived the fire in 1882. The story of the Garden Palace also features in Demolished Sydney, an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney from our friends at Sydney Living Museums. 

5. Research your family history 

Boy in pedal car with baby in 'rumble seat', ca. 1925-ca. 1955
View collection item detail

Why not start researching your family history over the holidays? Our expert librarians are on hand to help you navigate the Library’s collections so that you can start building your family tree. Pop into the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room, ask a librarian online, by phone or by post or book into a family history workshop to take the first step.  And remember, your family Christmas gathering might be the perfect opportunity to interview your parents or grandparents about your family history.

6. Become a Friend of the Library 

A man and a woman at an exhibtion

Stay up-to-date with what’s happening at the Library all year long with a Friends membership. Get exclusive access to the Friends Room, a subscription to the Library’s quarterly magazine, invitations to special events, discounts and more. During December new members (including memberships bought as gifts) will receive an additional three months for free. To claim this special offer, email or phone 9273 1593. 

7. Become a Custodian Patron

Custodian and child in galleries.

For a feel-good way to support the State Library throughout the year, join the Library’s annual giving program by becoming a Custodian Patron. You will help to support a range of projects including innovative exhibitions and education programs.

8. Experience free love from the archives

Two friends , 1975-1985
View collection item detail

Travel back to 1973 to the Aquarius Festival in Nimbin, a 10-day music, art and cultural gathering which set in motion the counter-culture the area is renowned for today, via the Library’s Rainbow Archive. Delve into the archive on Amplify, an exciting new online tool where you can access digitised interviews and sound recordings and help transcribe them. The platform is illustrated with images captured between 1973 and 1985 by Roger Marchant.

9. Catch up on some summer reading

Mitchell Library Reading Room from above

Christmas is the best time to catch up on all the books you meant to read this year. Why not pick up a book at the Library Shop and settle in for some quiet reading time in the historic Mitchell Library Reading Room or the Verandah. Before you come in, check out our Christmas and New Year opening hours (we’re open every day except Christmas Day). 

10. Still feeling overwhelmed? 

Long wooden pier stretching off into the distance over a tropical sea

Come into the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room to use our extensive collection of travel guides and start planning your next holiday!