Even travellers can access Sydney public library’s free books, ebooks and a cd-based audio book library. Here’s how.
Even if you’re in Sydney Australia for just a short time, you can borrow reading books, picture books, library audio books and toys from the City of Sydney library.
Free Books, eBooks
Any resident of New South Wales can join for free, on the spot or online. Others (including international visitors) can get temporary membership provided they have proof of a permanent address outside NSW (2 forms of id required). It costs A$15.50 and your membership is valid for up to three months.
As a TEMP member you can borrow up to 5 items, including 1 audio-visual item, at any one time. TEMP membership also gives you free access to Sydney library’s online services where you can download ebooks.
Every branch of the library has self-serve computers with email and word processing facilities. There’s a small charge to use these (you’ll get members’ rates). WiFi is free if you bring your own laptop or smart device.
The City of Sydney library has many branches. All have children’s libraries which include an audio book library. All items (except toys) can be borrowed from one branch and returned to another.
Glebe, Surry Hills and Waterloo libraries also carry toys and puzzles for toddlers. Members can borrow up to two (2) toys and one (1) puzzle for 3 weeks. Toys must be returned to the same library branch they were borrowed from.
Audio Book Library
As well as providing printed books, Sydney public library lets you borrow music, movies and audio books in cd or dvd formats. Or you can download ebooks.
CDs are a good way to explore local Australian bands, and Australian films will give a feel for the country’s myths, humour and history.
You might prefer streaming material from a commercial provider. That’s fine in Sydney, you can do it very easily, but if you are leaving the big cities then stock up on downloads as internet access is patchy or non-existent over much of the outback. Plus it’s often slow and expensive.
Sydney Public Library Branches
31 Alfred Street
Circular Quay NSW 2001
Monday to Friday: 10am-7pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11am-4pm
Public Holidays: Closed
The main branch of the library, it is located over three levels in the historic Australian Customs House building at Circular Quay.
There’s a reading room with a broad selection of daily newspapers, including some of the major international publications.
Don’t miss the model of Sydney under a glass floor in the foyer.
Cafe Sydney upstairs is a smart bar and restaurant with a great balcony which has a killer view of Sydney harbour. Especially appealing at sunset.
186 Glebe Point Road (cnr Wigram Road)
Glebe Sydney NSW 2037
Monday and Wednesday: 9am – 7pm
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9am – 6pm
Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Sundays and Public holidays: Closed
744 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Monday to Friday: 8:30am – 6pm
Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Located in Sydney’s Chinatown, Haymarket holds the largest Chinese language book and audio book library collection in Australia.
Daily newspapers in English, Chinese and Vietnamese.
Kings Cross Library
Level 1, 50-52 Darlinghurst Road
Kings Cross Sydney NSW 2011
Monday and Tuesday: 10am – 7pm
Wednesday to Friday: 10am – 6pm
Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Sunday: 11am – 4pm
8-10 Brown Street
Newtown Sydney NSW 2042
Monday and Wednesday: 10am – 7pm
Tuesday: 10am – 6pm
Thursday and Friday: 10am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11am – 4pm
Surry Hills Library
405 Crown Street
Surry Hills Sydney NSW 2010
Monday: 10am – 6pm
Tuesday: 10am – 8pm
Wednesday: 10am – 6pm
Thursday: 10am -8pm
Friday: 10am – 6pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 4pm
The Surry Hills Library is surrounded by popular eating and drinking venues. It has a very comfortable area to sit and read, listen to some of the extensive audio book library or use the free WiFi.
As well as a toy library for toddlers there are two small parks nearby, you can see one immediately next to the library (on the left in the photo) and one, with a children’s playground, across the road (that’s where the photo was taken from).
Level 1, Ultimo Community Centre
40 William Henry Street
Ultimo Sydney NSW 2007
Monday and Tuesday: 10am – 6pm
Wednesday: 10am – 7pm
Thursday and Friday: 10am – 6pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12pm – 4pm
Waterloo Town Hall
770 Elizabeth Street
Waterloo Sydney NSW 2017
Monday to Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Friday: 10am – 5pm
Saturday: 11am – 4pm
Library Links at Town Hall and Pyrmont provide convenient return points for books.
The Town Hall Link also has local newspapers, a small magazine collection, wifi, internet and library catalogue access. There’s a helpline (to speak with library staff) and a casual reading lounge and cafe.
More Public Libraries
Sydney has many other excellent libraries – North Sydney, Paddington, Woollahra, Waverley and Mosman to name just a few. These are not part of Sydney City library services. They are each run by their local council and most don’t allow borrowing by non-NSW residents.
So check out the local library closest to you. You can freely read books, magazines and newspapers there, and use the wifi and audio book library, but you probably won’t be able to borrow anything to take away.
If You Prefer Streaming
Don’t forget internet radio where you can stream spoken word as well as music. And there are many podcasts to download as well.
More Child-friendly Things to Do
Don’t forget Carols in the Domainif you’re in Sydney in December. They’re a great afternoon and evening which most children seem to love.