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Best Libraries in Sydney

15 Best Libraries in Sydney

The best libraries in Sydney are a far cry from the dusty old buildings you may remember from your childhood. The ancient shelves and worn books have been replaced with modern technology, turning the humble library into a place for people to gather, learn and explore the world of literature and creativity.  Tranquillity and convenience are at your disposal within many Sydney libraries and what’s more, the institutions have become free sources of entertainment for the whole family. Check out the best libraries Sydney has to offer.

Best Sydney Libraries

When it comes to the best library Sydney has to offer, the debate is never-ending. From the State Library of NSW to Darling Square, every venue on this list offers something different and unique for the book lovers amongst.

State Library of NSW

1. State Library of NSW

  • Address: Corner of Macquarie St and Shakespeare Place, Sydney NSW 2000
  • Phone: +61 02 9273 1414
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri

If you’re looking for a spot to read in Sydney, why not go to the oldest library in Australia? The State Library of NSW features old materials and manuscripts you won’t find anywhere else and the beautiful Mitchell Library Reading Room with its walls lined in old wooden bookcases. This iconic building goes way beyond just being a repostory of books, with the State Library offering up a host of great events, activations and even function spaces.

The Shakespeare Room, for example, is located in the Mitchell Wing of the State Library, overlooking Shakespeare Place. Here, you’ll find some of the most impressive early 20th centurey architecture in Australia, with woodcarver Charles Sherline’s carved linen folds and the Tudor rose — royal emblem of Shakespeare’s time — on full display.

The State Library of NSW also hosts a number of After Dark events that feature performances, workshops, conversations and debates, alongise a number of special events at the rooftop Library Bar. We definitely recommend checking out the monthly program of events, you never know what might pop up!

Best Libraries in Sydney Woollahra Library Double Bay

2. Woollahra Library Double Bay

  • Address: 1/451 New S Head Rd, Double Bay NSW 2028
  • Phone: +61 (02) 9391 7100
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-8om, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm

Three levels of bookish goodness, the Woollahra Library in Double Bay offers more than you’d expect. Vertical plants and hanging vines adorn the library’s walls creating a space of tranquillity that is the perfect spot to take in a book or sit in front of the fireplace in those colder winter months. What makes this Sydney library so special is the long list of events, talks and workshop on offer to members. Each month, the Woollahra Library Double Bay offers an impressive line up of entertaining, inspiring and educational events. Check out the guide for more information.

Best Libraries in Sydney The Exchange Darling Square

3. The Exchange Darling Square

  • Address: The Exchange, levels 1 and 2, 1 Little Pier St, Haymarket NSW 2000
  • Phone: +61 02 8019 6477
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm

Housed in a spiralling birds nest, The Exchange Darling Square features a new library spread out over two levels. The state of the art library offers free WiFi, public use computers, study spaces, meeting rooms, couches to sit and read and even a dedicated children’s area making it one of the best Sydney Libraries. If all that studying and reading gets your tummy grumbling, check out the restaurant area on the ground level.

Best Libraries in Sydney Customs House

4. Customs House Library

  • Address: 31 Alfred St, Sydney NSW 2000
  • Phone: +61 02 9242 8555
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm

When it comes to the best Sydney Library, Customs House springs to mind. Housed in a beautiful historic building and right at the heart of Circular Quay, this Sydney Library is a pleasure to relax in, meet friends and read or study. The unique space spans two floors of the iconic building and features over 50,000 items in a multicultural collection. In ourhumble opinion, this is the best library in Sydney for Australian historical information and documents.

Best Libraries in Sydney Marrickville Library and Pavillion

5. Marrickville Library and Pavillion

  • Address: 313 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204
  • Phone: +61 02 9392 5588
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Thur 9am-7.30pm, Fri 12pm- 7.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm

If you’re looking for a Sydney Library with modern and spacious design, ample seating areas and a place to enjoy a coffee then check out Marrickville Library and Pavillion. The well-stocked shelves are sure to have your favourites and new releases that you can enjoy in a quiet space. From the moment you walk up to this immaculately designed space, you’ll find a warming sense of community. There is beauty wood toned that flows throughout the space, inviting you in for refuge from the concrete jungle outside. Throw in the fact tht it has an on-site cafe and it’s no wonder we spend a few weekends here during winter.

Best Libraries in Sydney Glebe Library

6. Glebe Library

  • Address: 186 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe NSW 2037
  • Phone: +61 02 7809 7400
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm

If you’re in the Glebe area then check out Glebe Library. A beautiful and popular library with free WiFi, self-service computers, rooms for hire and children’s area. You can even take a stroll in the garden and find a nice spot in the sun to read. This spot is much more like the cosy village libraries we’re used to seeing in the English countryside and as a result, it has a more relaxed, community feel. Definitely a favourite spot of ours to drop in, grab a coffee from Esca Cafe across the road and read the afternoon away.

Best Libraries in Sydney Green Square

7. Green Square

  • Address: 355 Botany Rd, Zetland NSW 2017
  • Phone: +61 02 9288 5010
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm

This Sydney library is award-winning and underground! Green Square Library features open and spacious sitting areas for you to read and study in, meeting rooms, computer lab and even a music room for hire. In this room, you’ll find baby grand piano, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and recording equipment, all available for use when hiring. While part of it is underground there’s also a green garden you can sit in and read. Light and airy by design this library will have you perusing for hours.

Best Libraries in Sydney Kings Cross Library

8. Kings Cross Library

  • Address: 1/50-52 Darlinghurst Rd, Potts Point NSW 2011
  • Phone: +61 02 9246 4530
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm

If you’re after free WiFi and spacious areas to do your studies or read a book quietly then Kings Cross Library is the perfect spot if you’re in Potts Point. Here you can peruse the books, study on the computers and even take a glimpse at the old archives. As far as Sydney libraries go, the Kings Cross institution is perhaps the best for primary school students, due to its enormous range of self-service computers and the dedicated children’s area. Importantly, this venue also has an extensive LGBTIQ and Zines collection available for loan.

Best Libraries in Sydney Newtown Library

9. Newtown Library

  • Address: 8-10 Brown St, Newtown NSW 2042
  • Phone: +61 02 8512 4250
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm

This Sydney library is just off King Street and is a popular spot with students and locals alike. The Newtown Library offers a hefty inventory so take a book upstairs to the amphitheatre which overlooks the whole library, bring the kids for story time, or make use of one of their self-service computers to study. In our opinion, this Sydney library is the best for film and TV, with a massive collection of shows and releases available to stream for free through Kanopy and Beamafilm. Here, you can choose from new releases, award-winning documentaries, and independent and classics titles for kids and adults.

Best Libraries in Sydney Pyrmont Link
  • Address: John St &, Mount St, Pyrmont NSW 2009
  • Phone: +61 02 9242 8555
  • Trading Hours: Mon 10.30am-2.30pm

It might sound a little weird, but you can actually collect and return your books at this library without ever seeing another person. A non-staffed service at the Pyrmont Community Centre, Pyrmont Link is the perfect option for people on the go who might not have time to peruse bookshelves all day, if you just want to get in and out with your books then this is the best library in Sydney for you.

Best Libraries in Sydney Surry Hills

11. Surry Hills Library

  • Address: 405 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
  • Phone: +61 02 8374 6230
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm

Surry Hills Library combines beauty and functionalism as a place for the community. Winning a ton of architectural awards for the design and spanning over two floors the impressive building is the perfect spot to get some work done, study or read a book. As the library is located in the diverse suburb of Surry Hills, the space is home to a wide range of collections across much more than just books.

The library is home to an extensive collection of Russian literature, newspapers, CDs and DVDs and Chinese newspapers, alongside music, makerspace kits, video games, toys, film and more. Best of all, these plethora of intellectual goodies are all free to borrow.

Best Libraries in Sydney Town Hall Library Express

12. Town Hall Library Express

  • Address: Level 1 Town Hall House, 456 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2001
  • Phone: +61 02 9242 8555
  • Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-4pm

Perhaps epitomising the modern library, Town Hall Library Express is a small but cosy spot to grab a coffee nearby and peruse the selection of books and magazines for you to borrow. Here, you’ll find a series of great activations and initiatives across the calendar, including talks, classes and book clubs. The Town Hall Library Express also houses dedicated makerspace workshops in the Ideas lab, so you can get your creative juices flowing or simply keep the kids entertained during school holidays. A perfect Sydney Library for those on the go or just passing by.

Best Libraries in Sydney Ultimo Library

13. Ultimo Library

  • Address: Level 1, Ultimo Community Centre, 40 William Henry St, Ultimo NSW 2007
  • Phone: +61 02 9298 3110
  • Trading Hours: Wed-Thur 10.30am-2.30pm

Located on the first level of the Ultimo Community centre is the popular and local favourite, Ultimo Library. If you want a calm and quiet Sydney library with ample spaces to read, study and peruse the large collection of books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and newspapers them Ultimo Library is a perfect choice.

Best Libraries in Sydney Waterloo Library

14. Waterloo Library

  • Address: 770 Elizabeth St, Waterloo NSW 2017
  • Phone: +61 02 9288 5688
  • Trading Hours: Wed-Thur 2pm-6pm

The beautiful Waterloo Town Hall is a heritage-listed building that has housed the Waterloo Library since 1972. Historical inside and out, take a look at the Koori collection, comprised of over 1,250 fiction and non-fiction items on Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics.

Best Libraries in Sydney Parramatta Square (coming soon)

15. Parramatta Square

  • Address: Darcy St &, Macquarie St, Parramatta NSW 2150
  • Phone: +61 02 9232 3900
  • Trading Hours: TBA

One of the newest libraries in Sydney, the Parramatta Square library is a fantastic hub for book lovers in Western Sydney. While it is set a little outside the Harbour City, this library made a big splash when it opened in April 2022, courtesy of its enormous floor space. The six-storey building houses not only a state-of-the-art library but also cultural heritage spaces, exhibition areas, cafes, live performances and creative spaces plus more.

Alternatives to Sydney Libraries

If you are looking for something a little different in Sydney, why not take a look at sone of our other recent articles based in the New South Wales capital?

How Man Of Many Chose the Best Libraries in Sydney

With an editorial team full of avid readers and literature hounds, Man Of Many has had the unique opportunity to personally visit the best libraries in Sydney. This list is derived from our own personal experience, in-depth research and customer reviews of libraries in Sydney. As expert journalists who guide people between competing products and services, we have provided our independent opinion in formulating Man of Many’s selections. Our editors have taken into account, location, collection diversity and accessibility, while also making a concerted effort to highlight a few spots outside of the CBD. You can review our editorial policy here surrounding how we maintain our independence in our editorial reviews.

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Sydney Library FAQs

Is the City of Sydney library free?

Membership for the City of Sydney library is free for NSW residents. Once you complete the online application form, you can borrow up to 30 items for 3 weeks.

Are there any libraries in Sydney’s CBD?

There are many libraries scattered throughout Sydney including the State Library of NSW, The Exchange Darling Square, Customs House Library and the Town Hall Library Express, all of which are conveniently located in the CBD.

What are the best libraries in Sydney?

Some of the best Sydney Libraries that are consistently highly rated are Customs House Library, Green Square Library, State Library of NSW and Marrickville Library and Pavillon.