What are the best libraries in Sydney for children? Sydney has amazing libraries, we have so much choice. Today I want to share with you my local library and three other libraries with outstanding children's areas. I live in the Eastern suburbs and all of these libraries are within a 25 minutes drive.
Our most visited, local library is the Margaret Martin Library. It is not our closest library but it is the most convenient for us, and convenience is important for a library! The Margaret Martin Library is located on Level 1 of the Royal Randwick Shopping Centre. The centre also has Woolworths, Harris Farm, Rebel Sport, Kidstuff, Australia Post, Sushi shops and cafes. Parking is easy in the centre's underground car park. They don't always have the book I'm looking for so I frequently use the myLibrary App and pick up my holds here.
Otto (4yrs) is comfortable in this familiar space. It's good to have a local library where the children can feel at home and learn the processes of the library without any stress.
The toy library is a highlight. It's not open all the time so if you want to visit the toy library, check the separate toy library opening times.
This is the Inner West, Marrickville Library and Pavilion. It is stunning and worth the drive. It has won many awards including The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Australian Library Design Award 2021 for Public Libraries and the Members Choice Award. It was also a finalist in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Public Library of the Year Award 2021.
It's large and spacious with good ventilation, which is important with the current COVID situation. This library has a cafe at the front and a lot of natural light.
The children's area opens up to a small play space (pictured far below with the yellow kangaroo), which is useful if your children need to run around a bit and you don't want to leave the library, or if you are with multiple children and some want to read and some want to play. This area has lots of seating options and child-size work tables. This space would work well for playdates where parents could happily chat without being worried about making too much noise.
The reading nooks are fun.
Marrickville Library and Pavilion has lots of child-size tables and chairs for reading and working.
The outdoor play area is well placed directly opposite the children's reading area.
Wow! This is the Rockdale Library in the Bayside Council area. This is Otto's (4yrs) favourite reading area because he loves '"all the trees". Cecilia Kugler, Director of CK Design International designed this space, she has designed at least 93 libraries in Australia including Randwick and Woollahra libraries.
The library has more children's bookshelves but this is the main, children's reading area. The nooks and plush green carpet make this area cozy. I love that this library has a computer station at a child's height.
"Iconic trees from a local seaside forest inspired the “children’s forest”, with shelving sculpted into tree shapes, merge cosy reading nooks and book displays. The oval area central children’s area has an interactive floor projector and oversizes amoeba shaped lights and oversized drum lights overhead. The design throughout makes references to its locality in unexpected ways." - Collaboration and Inspiration: The journey to build a new library at Rockdale New South Wales, Australia at International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
The Rockdale Library is too far geographically for us to visit regularly but I know I will be going back to these images. This is a modern library finished in 2016. Architect Andrew Hjorth said it's one of the most vertical libraries he has worked on.
I suspect the librarians spend a lot of time putting away and reorganising books in this area.
The rocks are good for balancing and jumping on.
It's enchanting. Some reviewers have said it appears like it's out of a Lewis Carroll novel.
The nooks are different sizes and are good for accomodating groups of children.
If you love libraries, Sydney's Green Square Library is worth a special visit. If you live in Sydney please check it out. This library is beautiful. The library itself is underground with a tower including community gathering spaces not pictured. Otis (10 yrs) said the Green Square Library reminds him of the Louvre, and I see the similarities. The Green Square Library was finished in 2019 and has won many library and architecture awards.
There is a coffee shop in the entry. The Green Square Library is in Zetland, there is a lot of construction in this area and parking is limited, if you are visiting on a weekday I recommend taking public transport.
My pictures don't do this space justice, please take a look at Studio Hollenstein's images. Although the library is underground it has abundant natural light. It has a good balance of workspaces, reading spaces and books. Out of all the libraries I've been to, the Green Square Library is the best stocked with multiple copies of popular children's books on the shelves.
So beautiful. I love the high shelves and how they are able to promote other books with displays.
My children were so happy here, we could have stayed all day.
The courtyard in the centre is perfect for children to have a snack or to run around a little.
The tower including the Rainbow Wall was closed when we visited. This study area with the suspended plane is visually spectacular.
Out of all the libraries I've been to ever, this appears to be the best stocked in number and variety of children's board and picture books.
Oh, this is good! Makerspace Kits including robotic and electronic kits. Library cardholders can borrow one kit at a time for a duration of three weeks. It's currently the summer school holidays and they still have all these kits available for loan. I wish all libraries had these.
You might also like to read a previous article Why it's important to take your toddler to the library! (written from the UK).
If you are looking for a library in Sydney, all NSW public libraries can be found on this map. I'd love to hear suggestions on which libraries so should visit next, perhaps the State Library or the Woollahra Library at Double Bay?
You may also like to read a subsequent post More Children's Libraries in Sydney - which includes Woollahra, Waverley, Surry Hills and Maroubra libraries.