Celebrating 75 Years of NSW Public Libraries

On Monday 3 November Sutherland Shire Libraries will join public libraries across the state to celebrate the birth of free public libraries in New South Wales. 

Sutherland Library will have a display in our foyer area to mark the 75th anniversary of the NSW Library Act, the landmark legislation that led to the provision of free public library services for the people of NSW.

Since the passage of the Act in 1939 the number of public libraries in New South Wales has grown from two – Broken Hill and Sydney – to over 360, with 3.2 million members and more than 35 million people visiting libraries each year.

Sutherland Shire Council adopted the Act in 1952 and its first branch opened in on 30 November 1953. Today the Sutherland Shire Libraries sees over 900,000 through its doors each year, taking part in a range of programs from children’s story and rhymetimes, author, literary, taming technology and sustainable living talks, crossword and craft workshops and much more.

“This November we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NSW Library Act, which led to the network of free public libraries we all enjoy today.

“The Act was supported by both sides of politics, and was passed two months after the outbreak of WWII, which shows just how important the establishment of free public library services was to the people of NSW.  Councils quickly adopted the Act and the number of NSW public libraries has now grown to over 360. 

“Today, public libraries are going strong and play a vital role in their communities.  As State Librarian I have visited many from Waverley to Wentworth and enjoyed seeing them in their diversity, meeting their staff and council colleagues and talking to their readers.  It is striking to see how much they contribute to their communities,” says Alex Byrne, NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive.