This October we’re celebrating 150 years since the opening of the Free Public Library (the precursor to the State Library of NSW) and importantly, 150 years since members of the public could freely access books and other reading materials.
Since then, the State Library of NSW and public libraries in turn have established themselves as vital community spaces where absolutely everyone is welcome. And one of the best things about libraries is that you can look at anything you want without judgement.
This includes all books, magazines, journals, newspapers, maps and sheet music published in NSW. Legal deposit legislation requires publishers of all print and now born digital materials to deposit their publications with the State Library of NSW. So when you come to the State Library, you can request to see this material (as well as unpublished collection material) – all you need is a Library card .
Public libraries can collect and make available any books or other library material as long as it is not subject to Commonwealth restriction (i.e. refused classification). Some material may be only available to readers over 18 years, in accordance with Australian Classification Rules.
Libraries have a role in providing an unbiased source of information and ideas; this is a role we take very seriously. Libraries do not censor or limit points of view.
Libraries are shared spaces where people can come to read, think, create, explore and challenge ideas.
In this time of fake news and cherished freedoms under threat, libraries have never been more important and we invite everyone to celebrate their democratic right to explore the world through libraries.
Dr John Vallance