State Library of New South Wales

State Library of New South Wales

State Library of New South Wales
4.5
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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Top ways to experience State Library of New South Wales and nearby attractions

The area
Address
Neighbourhood: Central Business District
The Sydney Central Business District is abuzz with energy. Power brokers run to and from high rise buildings and after-work drink places, high-end shoppers tour venues like the QVB, and fine diners frequent the many celebrity chef restaurants. For a dose of culture, walk to the NSW Art Gallery, or visit the Sydney Museum. To escape the hustle and bustle, reconnect with nature at the Sydney Botanical Gardens or picnic lunch at High Park. No matter your interest, be sure to check the full calendar of events hosted by the city, from the Sydney Festival in January to October’s Good Food Month at Hyde Park.
How to get there
  • Martin Place • 3 min walk
  • St James • 6 min walk
Reach out directly
See what travellers are saying
  • Mairwen1
    United Kingdom10,995 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Highly Under-Rated - Australia’s Oldest Library & Free Art Gallery
    The historic NSW State Library, Australia’s oldest library, is a highly under-rated spot. There’s a lot to love here and it's free. In particular, the art gallery, with its crowded portrait gallery and landscapes of early Sydney, is worth visiting. Portraits of newly wealthy colonial families and serious men in stiff, formal poses. sit alongside a portraits of a young, teenage Queen Victoria. Another interesting picture captures Billy Blue, a Jamaican convict who was who was transported for stealing sugar in London and later became harbour watchman and the official ferryman for the north shore. Blues Point, on the harbour, is named after him. Interactive screens allow you to choose a painting, click on it and read the background story. We also had a bit of fun, trying to identify the locations of some of the very early Sydney cove scenes. Seeing the changes between then and now kept us occupied for some time. The Library holds a number of free temporary exhibitions. Currently there is an exhibition, ‘For All Time: Shakespeare in Print’ and another, displaying the winners of the Walkley Awards for Press Photography. The Mitchell Library Reading Room with its three floors of endless books, criss-crossed staircases, stained glass windows, skylight ceiling and hallowed atmosphere is worth a peek before you leave. As we entered, we stopped to look at the foyer floor, which has a large marble replica of an 17th century map of Australia by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. Other features include the two bronze statues of the explorer Matthew Flinders and his intrepid cat, Trim which stand outside the Library (see separate reviews). Facilities include a cafe, bookshop, bathrooms, free wifi and guided tours. There’s also a rooftop bar which recently opened but it has limited hours and it wa sclosed when we were there. Overall, the State Library is probably of more interest to locals than tourists. It’s unlikely to make it onto many tourists’ itineraries, but if you are near Hyde Park or the Macquarie St side of the Botanic Gardens, then it is well worth a stop. It’s a 10 minute walk from Circular Quay.
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 9 December 2023
  • CasandraTP
    Sydney, Australia3,617 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    One of Sydney’s gems
    Not just a fabulous library, it holds some amazing exhibitions. Currently there is an exhibition of Shakespeare in print as the library owns copies of the first 4 editions along with some other very important books. The is also a Shakespeare Room which is full of everything Shakespeare. Exhibitions change regularly so I do come every 6 months, currently there is also a photography exhibition on war, another one on photo journalism plus more. The best part is it is all free. It really is a must go to venue.
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled with family
    Written 13 January 2024
  • Pumpkin20
    Bathurst, Australia331 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fantastic
    We were having a morning walk to the Botanical Gardens & and saw the advertisement for an exhibition of war photographs. What a fabulous find! We had never been to the library, now it’s on our list to check what may be on for our next visit. Beautiful building & more beautiful on the inside. Do yourself a huge fan and pay a visit, you won’t be disappointed!!!
    Visited February 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 16 February 2024
  • Joe L
    Detroit, Michigan149 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Don’t miss it!
    Lots to see in several exhibition spaces. The Shakespeare Room ceiling is worth gawking at, and so are the library doors. Ned Kelly’s armor was on display, and there was a special exhibition of awesome Hebrew manuscripts. The Magellan floor map is a beautiful work of art. And it’s a good place to people-watch.
    Visited March 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 13 March 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles552 reviews
Excellent
330
Very good
189
Average
27
Poor
2
Terrible
4

Jennifer H
Leicester, UK165 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020 • Friends
This is so much more than a library, there are some very interesting exhibitions on display here. Most recently I revisited the Dead Central exhibit with a friend who was visiting from the UK. (It was my second time visiting that exhibition). I have also enjoyed the Living Language exhibition and other installations with focus on the history of Sydney, New South Wales and Australia. Very informative, good use of technology to make exhibitions engaging and friendly staff.
The building is also quite stunning
Written 8 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Manish K
Dubai, United Arab Emirates3,999 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
The State Library of New South Wales is another of the standout buildings in the architecturally rich cityscape of Sydney CBD. Located near Martin's Place and the Royal Botanical Gardens, it is an impressive building by itself.

Inside, there is a large reading hall, with books covering a wide variety of subjects. The library gave a quiet unassuming feel. I could see the stained glass windows with some art carvings and artworks too in the library. Worth spending some nice quiet time with books here.
Written 8 April 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

PicklesNewcastle
Newcastle, Australia234 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2020
The exhibitions put together by the library staff are truly world class and quite unique. Having visited this location over the years, I have never been disappointed in the exhibitions being staged. Easy access into the building from Macquarie Street, lift access to all floors including disabled toilets on all levels. The cafe is always a great place for a cuppa or a meal. The shop at the library has many interesting and sometimes extremely quirky array of goods for sale, many made in Australia.
Many of the exhibitions run for 2-4 months so plenty of time to plan. Suggest check the library website. They also cater for children and the staff attendants at the library are always very helpful. I am sure you wont be disappointed.
Written 27 December 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CasandraTP
Sydney, Australia3,617 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2020 • Family
Situated in the heart of the city, this library isn’t just about books. As of Dec 2020 they currently have the “Coming Out In The 70s” exhibition which is fascinating and a great way to learn something about the LGBTQ history in Australia. There is some amazing permanent artwork and artefacts worth looking at so do check out those galleries as well. The library itself is beautiful to look at and perfect to study in. Do check it out when you are next in Sydney.
Written 29 December 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mairwen1
United Kingdom10,995 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Solo
The historic NSW State Library, Australia’s oldest library, is a highly under-rated spot. There’s a lot to love here and it's free.
In particular, the art gallery, with its crowded portrait gallery and landscapes of early Sydney, is worth visiting.
Portraits of newly wealthy colonial families and serious men in stiff, formal poses. sit alongside a portraits of a young, teenage Queen Victoria. Another interesting picture captures Billy Blue, a Jamaican convict who was who was transported for stealing sugar in London and later became harbour watchman and the official ferryman for the north shore. Blues Point, on the harbour, is named after him.
Interactive screens allow you to choose a painting, click on it and read the background story. We also had a bit of fun, trying to identify the locations of some of the very early Sydney cove scenes. Seeing the changes between then and now kept us occupied for some time.
The Library holds a number of free temporary exhibitions. Currently there is an exhibition, ‘For All Time: Shakespeare in Print’ and another, displaying the winners of the Walkley Awards for Press Photography.
The Mitchell Library Reading Room with its three floors of endless books, criss-crossed staircases, stained glass windows, skylight ceiling and hallowed atmosphere is worth a peek before you leave.
As we entered, we stopped to look at the foyer floor, which has a large marble replica of an 17th century map of Australia by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman.
Other features include the two bronze statues of the explorer Matthew Flinders and his intrepid cat, Trim which stand outside the Library (see separate reviews).
Facilities include a cafe, bookshop, bathrooms, free wifi and guided tours. There’s also a rooftop bar which recently opened but it has limited hours and it wa sclosed when we were there.
Overall, the State Library is probably of more interest to locals than tourists. It’s unlikely to make it onto many tourists’ itineraries, but if you are near Hyde Park or the Macquarie St side of the Botanic Gardens, then it is well worth a stop. It’s a 10 minute walk from Circular Quay.
Written 9 December 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MosesPH
1,557 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2023
Did a short walk through as we came to spend a day in the city. It was
reminiscent of my time spent here years ago when I spent many hours in this place. It is a great library and had a wonderful collection but it is also a great space for study or a haven from the busy streets outside if you wish to use the study/quiet spaces, free Wi-Fi, computers or just visit the shop or sit in the cafe. Any NSW residents can sign up for a Library card. Staff here are friendly and very helpful with any questions.
Written 11 January 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dimitris L
Sydney, Australia49,976 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020
The State Library of New South Wales is a beautiful heritage listed building. Originally built in the early 1900s it later had additions made to it. It holds some very important state documents, as well as books, photographs, drawings, various manuscripts and other items. We have been here several times for various exhibitions. Highly recommended.
Written 31 October 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CasandraTP
Sydney, Australia3,617 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Family
Not just a fabulous library, it holds some amazing exhibitions. Currently there is an exhibition of Shakespeare in print as the library owns copies of the first 4 editions along with some other very important books. The is also a Shakespeare Room which is full of everything Shakespeare. Exhibitions change regularly so I do come every 6 months, currently there is also a photography exhibition on war, another one on photo journalism plus more. The best part is it is all free. It really is a must go to venue.
Written 13 January 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kehk
Yesilirmak, North Cyprus483 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
I like libraries, a lot, so visiting this top library was a treat. It's got its own cafe. You can't just browse the books though, as they use an order system. Go into the old part just to go back in time and see those old wooden cabinets with the cataloguing system. A real treat.
Written 5 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Joe L
Detroit, MI149 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Couples
Lots to see in several exhibition spaces. The Shakespeare Room ceiling is worth gawking at, and so are the library doors. Ned Kelly’s armor was on display, and there was a special exhibition of awesome Hebrew manuscripts. The Magellan floor map is a beautiful work of art. And it’s a good place to people-watch.
Written 13 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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State Library of New South Wales - All You MUST Know Before You Go (2024)

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