Visiting the NatLibs of the World: Australia

The National Library’s official purpose includes working collaboratively with the international library community, and many of our staff - myself included - have been privileged to visit national libraries in other countries.

Most readers of this blog will know that our Molesworth Street building in Wellington is being redeveloped, and is currently closed to the public. While we wait for it to re-open, we decided to take a virtual tour of some of the other National Library buildings we’ve visited, admired, and been inspired by.

First up: the National Library of Australia.

The National Library of AustraliaNational Library of Australia. Photo by Gordon Paynter.

The NLA has a beautiful, very formal building (seen here in March 2012) on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. It was opened in 1968, and sits among greenery and sculpture.

Open space and sculpture by the NLAPublic art and open space at the NLA. Photo by Gordon Paynter.

Inside the foyer, you’ll find a rather nice cafe (only gripe: you need cash to buy a coffee) with absolutely stunning windows.

Stained glass windows at the NLAGorgeous windows at the NLA. Photo by Gordon Paynter.

There’s also a bookshop, where I found a real treasure: a board book for my son, who loves birds, written by two women named Penny, and published by the library itself. All the illustrations, which are wonderful, are from the Library’s collections.

Cover of Our Nest is BestBirds, birds, you both have great nests. Cover of Our Nest is Best.

Tucked away in the back cover you’ll find this passage: “Books published by the National Library of Australia further the Library’s objectives to interpret and highlight the Library’s collections and to support the creative work of the nation’s writers and researchers.”

And it is, of course, fully referenced:

Reference information from Our Nest is BestReference information from Our Nest is Best.

It’s beautiful idea, and a beautiful book. I look forward to a similar work being created from the National Library of New Zealand’s collections. (Ed: For a start, there's David Colquhoun's Wellingtonians compilation!)

By Gordon Paynter

Gordon likes libraries.

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