Room full of children sitting cross legged on the floor writing on boards
20 Jan

Family fun at the State Library of NSW

Have you ever visited the State Library of NSW and did you know it’s the oldest Library in Australia? We have 1.7m books, 167,000 paintings, prints and drawings, 109,000 maps, 6,38objects and much, much more. Intriguing collections, beautiful spaces and accessible programs make the Library a safe and welcoming space for all visitors.

My name is Pauline and I work in the Learning team at the Library. Last year I attended a Museums conference in London and one of the speakers outlined the obstacles faced by children with autism and their families, to visiting cultural organisations such as galleries, museums and libraries. The speaker then shared the different ways organisations in the UK are tackling these obstacles to create more inclusive environments. This inspired me to think about how we could remove similar barriers at the State Library.

A little about who we are…

the Learning Services team look after schools and teachers, kids and families and lifelong learners. Our team is made up of highly creative, experienced and enthusiastic educators and this small team of six welcomed an impressive 27,000 visitors to our programs in 2019. We do this in many different ways, with onsite programs for schools and families, online resources and we also travel all around NSW to deliver programs. We are always looking for ways to improve and extend our services, as equity of access is key to our mission.

In 2019 we reached out to Autism Awareness Australia to help us refine our programs and make them more accessible to children with autism and their families. We would like to extend a warm welcome to you and invite you to visit us and join our Library family.

Perhaps you would like to pop in and explore the Library in your own time, at your own pace. If that’s the case, you might like to try one of these five fun things available at any time.

  • Visit the beautiful new children’s library and enjoy some chill out time with a good book
  • Explore the Paintings from the Collection exhibition and listen to the kid’s audio guide. We made this with ten students from Summer Hill Public School and you’ll love to hear what they have to say about our paintings.
  • Pick up a kid’s activity booklet and follow the trail around the Library and record some information about your visit
  • Chat to Scout our little robot friend. If you answer a few simple questions Scout will recommend a list of books for you to read.
  • Watch the animation on the door of the Learning Centre and follow the black cat as he roams around the Library.

We also have programs every school holiday including a drop-in centre in the beautiful John B Fairfax Learning Centre where you can stay as long as you like and enjoy the range of activities available for all kinds of learning styles.

Accessible family fun days

We would particularly like to let you know about our Family Sunday events which are held four times a year. Family Sundays are all about celebrating the joy of children’s literature. We have a line-up of children’s authors/illustrator who love talking to kids about their books. Andrea, our art educator designs wonderful art making workshops and the John B Fairfax Learning Centre is full of fun things to do all day long. We’ve designed special tours with kids in mind where you’ll discover intriguing collection items and their fascinating back stories. Family Sunday events run from 10am – 3pm and workshops and activities are scheduled throughout the day. One ticket entitles you to attend whatever you would like throughout the day and there are plenty of quiet spaces where you can take a break if you need to. We believe that the environment we have created for Family Sunday is appropriate for children with autism and their families. It is possible to plan your day and join in with group activities or alternatively spend time as a family and dip in and out of the various offerings as desired. The Library is traditionally a calm and reasonably quiet environment even when we have families visiting and there are spaces where you can withdraw to if you need some quiet time.  The Learning Services team is committed to welcoming you to the Library and we are determined to do as much as we can to ensure your visit is a positive and happy experience.

The dates for 2020 are:

  • Sunday 23 February
  • Sunday 31 May
  • Sunday 30 August
  • Sunday 29 November

We’ve made a social story for you to plan a visit to Family Sunday. If you have any questions or you’d like more information please send us an email or give us a call on 92731778.

Pauline Fitzgerald

Senior Education Officer
State Library of NSW

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