ALIA Blog: ALIA in greater Sydney 

The ALIA Regional Engagement Manager (REM), Emily Wilson, spent two days (November 23-24) on the lands of the Gadigal and Wanal peoples of the Eora Nation and the Dharug peoples, connecting with NSW ALIA members at their end of year celebration, and visiting libraries. 

Photo above – The State Library of New South Wales

 Exploring the 7 exhibitions currently on display at the State Library of New South Wales was the perfect way to shelter from the Sydney rain. The Library's gallery spaces were filled with people interested in art, photography, film and literature (or in taking influencer photos for social media). 

The exhibitions were as follows, and you can read more about them here.

  • Shot 
  • Charles Rodius
  • Action! Film & War
  • Painting from the Collection 
  • Wadgayawa Nhay Dhadjan Wari 
  • For All Time: Shakespeare in Print 
  • Nikon-Walkley Press Photography Exhibition 

From the State Library's galleries, I headed to the Library Bar on the Library's rooftop for the ALIA NSW End of Year Celebration. 50 ALIA members attended from across the state (travelling from places like Tamworth, Broken Hill, the Central Coast, and the Blue Mountains). The rain didn't dampen our spirits, and attendees relished the opportunity to catch-up with library colleagues, celebrate the year that's been, and plan for 2024 - all whilst enjoying the views of the Sydney skyline. The festive mood was further enhanced by the free glass of bubbly for all in attendance thanks to the generous RAECO sponsorship. 

The event provided an opportunity for ALIA Board Director Kathryn Eyre to present ALIA Membership pins to Matthew Griffiths (25-year membership) and Eunice Sarif (40-year membership). Congratulations Matthew and Eunice! 





Photos above – attendees at the ALIA NSW End of Year Celebration

Missed the end of year celebration? The newly formed ALIA New South Wales Group will ensure there are further opportunities to network in 2024, so get in touch with them if you'd like to join the Group or the Group's mailing list. 


Photos above (L-R) – The PHIVE community hub; Emily Wilson (ALIA REM), Paul Scully (Library Services Manager, City of Parramatta) and Neera Sahni (Customer Experience Manager, City of Parramatta) in the Library at PHIVE

The following day I caught the train to Parramatta to see the new Parramatta Library at PHIVE. I was met by Library Services Manager Paul Scully and Customer Experience Manager Neera Sahni, who took me on a tour through the library space, meeting rooms, makerspaces (where I was gifted a cloth bag made in one of their sewing workshops), recording studio and more. 

The internationally celebrated PHIVE building (a community, cultural and civic hub) has a sustainable designed courtesy of French architect Manuelle Gautrand, in partnership with Australian architecture firms Lacoste + Stevenson and DesignInc. Solar collectors on the building's red roof generate power and provide heating and water, and the louvre windows are 'smart-linked' to the Bureau of Meteorology, meaning they open and close automatically in tune with the weather. The building's colours are inspired by native flora. 

I arrived only a short time after opening, but the library was already filled with people utilising the various study spaces, sewing machines in the maker space, children's play area in the foyer and more. The 'borrow an iPad' initiative had just begun and was already proving popular for the community. Library members can borrow an iPad preloaded with apps for a 3 week loan period. The aim is to enhance digital literacy and provide access to those who cannot afford their own device. 

A wonderful new library, in a location easily accessible for the local community. 



Photos above – Inside the Parramatta Library at PHIVE

2 more trains and I was at the striking Marrickville Library and Pavillion, which was built on the site of the former Marrickville Hospital and designed by architectural firm BVN. The building was developed to celebrate the historical and cultural context of its location and remaining structures and it incorporates parts of the old hospital (shower cubicles have becomes meeting rooms!) with the new build. 

The Library has received multiple awards, including the Australian Library Design Award (2021), Milo Dunphy Award for Sustainable Architecture, the NSW Premier's Prize, and an award for public architecture. 

Here I met with Library Content and Community Manager, Joanne Shaw (who was a wonderful tour guide and pigeon wrangler) and Senior Manager, Libraries and Community, Caroline McLeod. I loved exploring this library, with its multiples levels and array of comfortable places to sit, read, study, admire the public art, entertain children, and enjoy a coffee from the Library's cafe. Designed with the community, for the community, and with design features paying tribute to the local history, it's a special place that has quickly become the heart of the Marrickville high-street. 



Photos above – Marrickville Library highlights, including ‘Brian’ the Kangaroo


Photos above – Marrickville Library highlights, including objects found during the build from its previous days as a hospital.

It was wonderful to get to New South Wales and explore libraries in the greater Sydney area. Thanks to everyone who took time to speak to me about ALIA, the library collections and design, and supporting community. And thanks to those who have invited me to visit their libraries when I’m next in Sydney – can't wait.  

Emily Wilson  Regional Engagement Manager