State Reference Library collection

The State Reference Library collection is an extensive and growing collection of Australian and international books, magazines and newspapers.

"Free day and night / corner of Bent and Macquarie Sts." Trade, catalogues, periodicals, commercial and technical books

How the collection began

The State Library collections originated with the Australian Subscription Library, established in 1826. In 1869 the NSW Government purchased the Subscription Library’s collection and building, on the corner of Bent and Macquarie Streets. Re-opening in September of that year, as the Sydney Free Public Library, it had a stock of 20,000 volumes including the 1865 bequest of Judge Edward Wise’s early Australiana collections. In 1895, the Free Public Library of Sydney became known as the Public Library of NSW, later renamed the State Library of NSW in 1975.

The collections of Free Public Library, the Public Library of NSW and the State Library of NSW previously called the General Reference collection are currently known as the State Reference Library

What's in the collection

The State Reference Library collection is a diverse and comprehensive collection. It contains Australian and international books, journals, magazines, newspapers and other material including sound recordings, talking books, posters, audiovisual material and databases.

The collection covers a broad range of subject areas to complement the Library’s Australiana collections and to supplement the collections provided by public libraries in New South Wales.

The collection's key strengths include arts, biography, business, humanities, law and government, library and information science, social sciences and world history. The collection also contains many rare books and special collections ranging from medieval manuscripts to modern private press and artists' books.

The collection contains over 1.5 million bound monographs, serial and newspaper volumes and more than 1 million microfilms and microfiche.

Borrowing collection material

The State Reference Library collection is primarily a reference collection. You can borrow some material from the collection through your public, academic or work library.

Rare books and special collections material are not able to be borrowed although requests for loans to other cultural institutions for exhibition including travelling exhibitions will be considered.