On 1 October 1869, the Free Public Library was established when the building and books of the Australian Subscription Library, founded in 1826, were purchased by the government. (1)
In 1898 David Scott Mitchell offered his collection of Australiana, printed books, manuscripts, prints and pictures, to be a part of the Public Library of New South Wales. The conditions were that Mitchell's collection should remain separate within the Library and that the government should proceed with the erection of a suitable National Library building in which the Mitchell bequest, and the remainder of the Library, could be properly housed. The offer was accepted and in 1899 a trust was set up for the Library and authorised to entreat with Mitchell for the custody, control and care of his collection. (2)
In 1899, arising partly out of Mitchell's offer, the Library and Art Gallery Act, 1899 (Act No.54, 1899) provided for the management and control of the Library and the National Art Gallery. This Act incorporated the Library as the Public Library of New South Wales and vested the control and management of the Library in fifteen trustees, consisting of the Chancellor of the University of Sydney, three professors of the University recommended by its Senate and appointed by the Governor, and eleven others appointed by the Governor. (3)
The Library of New South Wales Act, 1969 (Act No.9, 1969), which repealed the Library and Art Gallery Act, altered the name of the Library to ' the Library of New South Wales' (4) and replaced the Trustees with the Council of the Library of New South Wales. (5) The Council consisted of eleven persons comprising:
* seven who were appointed on the nomination of the Minister after consultation with 'such persons, authorities, organisations and associations the Minister thinks fit' , and
* four who were professors or other members of the academic staff of the New South Wales universities. (6)
The Library (Amendment) Act, 1975 (No.41, 1975) repealed the Library of New South Wales Act and the principal Act became the Library Act, 1939. (7) The Library was renamed 'the State Library of New South Wales'. (8) A Library Council of New South Wales was constituted consisting of thirteen persons appointed by the Governor. (9) This body replaced the previous Council of the Library of New South Wales and assumed many of the functions of the Library Board of New South Wales, which was also dissolved by the Act. An important function of the new Council's was acquiring responsibility of the services of both the State Library and local government libraries. (10) As a result of this Act, the State Library was re-organised into five divisions: Public Libraries Division; Information Services; Technical Services; Management Services; and Staffing. (11)
A new organisational structure was approved by the Library Council in 1996 to include: Information Technology; Resource Management; Australian Research Collections and Collection Management; Commercial Services; Library and Information Services; Corporate Sponsorship and Marketing; and, Education and Client Liaison. (12)
The Library collection's major subject strengths are Australian history, culture and literature, including Aboriginal studies; Antarctic exploration; family history and genealogy; business and management; social sciences; applied science; biography; health (Health Information Service established in 1996); and law (Legal Information Access Centre created 1989-90). (13). The Library, which includes the General Reference Library, Mitchell and Dixson Libraries and the State Film Library, provides services for individuals, researchers, community groups, business, industry, media and government.
1. Australian Encyclopaedia, Vol. 5, "Libraries", pp.299-300.
2. Auditor-General: Public Library of NSW - report on methods and procedures. SRNSW: [5/3222], pp.1-2.
3. Library and Art Gallery Act, 1899 s.1.
4. Library of New South Wales Act, 1969 s.3(a).
5. Ibid. s. 5(1).
6. Ibid. s. 5(2).
7. Library (Amendment) Act, 1975 s. 3, 4.
8. Ibid. s. 7(c).
9. Ibid. s. 4.
10. Ibid. Part III.
11. "Report of the Library Council of New South Wales for 1976, p. 4", in Parliamentary Papers 1976-77-78 Vol.8, p.734.
12. Library Council of New South Wales, Annual Report, 1996, p.80.
13. Library Council of New South Wales, Annual Report, 1996, p.56.
(1) Public Service Lists, 1869 - 1960.
(2) "Concise Guide", 2nd Edition. " ". " " p.
(3) NSW Government Directory, 1977/8 - 1996.