Ever wondered what the oldest library in Australia is?

nsw-state-libIt’s no surprise that it is in NSW, the oldest European settled colony in the country. The oldest Australian library is the State Library of NSW, which was formed in 1826 as the ‘Australian Subscription Library’. In 1869 the Subscription Library was in severe debt, so the NSW State Government bought the entire collection and the building for the sum of 5,600 pounds and called it the ‘Sydney Free Public Library’. It underwent yet another name change in 1895 to become the ‘Public Library of NSW’.  The current service has several wings, with the Mitchell building opening in 1910 thanks to a generous donation from David Scott Mitchell. A variety of other wings were built and it wasn’t until 1942 that the library was housed under one roof. The name changed yet again in 1975 to the current ‘State Library of NSW’. This library houses some of the oldest post-colonial settlement materials, including nine of the eleven known First Fleet journals, many of the literary papers of Miles Franklin, and Australia’s first newspaper, the ‘New South Wales Advertiser’ which was printed in March of 1803. The oldest known Australian photograph of Dr William Bland, the first medical doctor in the colony, is also housed here.