Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy Birthday ! The NSW Library Act 1939 turns 75

November 3rd 2014 : 75th anniversary of the New South Wales Library Act and the Free Library movement 
The Wagga Wagga Free Library was established in 1946. The Free library movement within New South Wales had been agitating for library services since around 1935/36, and the local representation of the movement had Mayor Gissing as the president. The resources on offer at the library were much simpler than today, with books, newspapers and later on recordings, films and other materials. Over the years the library service has kept up with the demands of the changing times –currently wifi, and online services such as ebooks and audio books, online magazines and music are available in order to provide the best possible service to the communities in the local area.
Items on Wagga Wagga library history available in local studies include a detailed study by C E Case, written in 1984 :  A study of the development of the Wagga Wagga Municipal Public Library from 1946 – 1971.
Some of the information I used to research this post comes from this fabulous study, which has a great deal of valuable background material. After the first establishment of the Library Act 1939, World War Two intervened and funds were not available until the end of the war to implement schemes to build and promote the library service as a whole across the state.
There are also some photo albums that chronicle the many and varied incarnations of the library service over the years – the photographs I have chosen come from the Gurwood Street era, in the 80s, and from the seventies, when the library occupied the basement of the council bulidings just behind the Historic Council Chambers on the corner of Baylis and Morrow Streets.

Wagga City Library at Gurwood Street, circa 1982

The State Library of New South Wales has information on the history of the Act and information and photographs on the 75th Anniversary celebrations

If you have any library memories you would like to share you can post them on Wagga Wagga City library’s Facebook page , if you spot any mistakes in my dating the photographs here email  or come into the library to share your memories with the library staff to celebrate the beginnings of the free library movement and the anniversary of the law that made everything library possible!

Display at the library, Council buildings basement circa 1970s

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