This morning Central West Libraries joined with public libraries across the state to mark 75 since the passing of the NSW Library Act 1939. Before you yawn and say ‘so what’ let us tell you why this is such an important date.
The passing of the Act marked the birth of free public libraries in NSW. Before that time existing libraries were ‘subscription’ libraries attached to places like Mechanics Institutes and School of Arts. The Act was supported by both sides of politics, and was passed two months after the outbreak of WWII, which shows just how important the establishment of free public library services was to the people of NSW. Subsequently all Australian states followed the lead of NSW.
To celebrate most branches of Central West Libraries hosted a morning tea (Canowindra isn’t open on Mondays so they’ll be having an afternoon tea tomorrow to coincide with the Melbourne Cup). In Orange we were also fortunate to have the ABC Central West broadcast from our information desk with presenter Angela Owens interviewing a range of people.
One of our guests was Orange resident Jenny King. As Jennifer Caro she joined Orange City Library on the day it opened in November 1956. What’s more she can still remember the first book she borrowed from the Library (The Valley of Adventure by Enid Blyton). We were delighted to be able to show Jenny an article from the Central Western Daily 24 August 1957 where she is photographed borrowing books at the beginning of the school holidays – goes to prove that the Library indeed has all the answers!