Customs House Library

Customs House Library

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Harbourside heritage

Located in one of Sydney's finest historical landmarks, the Customs House Library spans 3 levels and highlights the building's contemporary and traditional design features. It houses a collection of more than 50,000 items and is open 7 days a week.

To become a member complete an online application or fill in a form when you next visit. It is free to join if you are a NSW resident.

You can download accessibility information for Customs House Library.

Opening hours

  • Monday to Friday, 10am to 7pm
  • Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm
  • Closed on public holidays.

Features

  • Relaxing lounges on the ground and first floors invite you to sit down and absorb the building's unique atmosphere.
  • Beautiful and quiet grand reading room on the second floor.
  • Large selection of local and international newspapers and magazines.
  • Free wireless internet.
  • Public access computers.
  • Scanning, printing and photocopying facilities.
  • Access to many high quality databases.
  • Regular exhibitions and cultural events.
  • Collections in Japanese and Korean.

Loans, returns and renewals

You'll find library catalogue computers on the ground, first and second floors. Loans desks are located on levels 1 and 2. You can borrow up to 30 items for up to 3 weeks.

Returns can be made up until 11.30pm on the ground floor.

Renewals are available online (with your library card number) or you can send an email to library@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au. You can also telephone or drop in to the branch.

Contacts

Customs House Library
31 Alfred Street
Circular Quay NSW 2000
02 9242 8555
TTY: 02 9242 8575 (hearing impaired people)

  • What’s on
  • School holidays at Customs House Library (ages 5-8)
    Wednesday 27 September 2017
  • Book now

    Schools out, so, to celebrate, we’ve got free hands-on making sessions for kids. They’ll have fun while they get creative with recycling and robotics. Just BYO imagination and get constructing.

    This school holidays we’ll be exploring motion and robotics.

    5-8 year olds: Wind Tube: Kids will make your own flying machine from recycled materials and watch it soar
    Workshops are free, however bookings are essential as places are limited.

    Different school holiday workshops are on at each branch. Go to Kids and teens at the library for full details.

    Customs House Library
    Wednesday 27 September 2017 from 11am to 12pm
  • Late Night Library: The People’s Table 2
    Wednesday 27 September 2017
  • Book now

    Democracy has had one too many drinks and it’s time for an intervention. Filibuster invite you to be our guest at The People’s Table. Each night some of Sydney’s most dynamic performance artists will throw a proverbial thought-bomb at a table of diverse Sydney locals and the best bit is, you get to watch.

    The People’s Table – People that hate to vote

    You saw that “I’m just one vote, what difference could I possibly make?” poster pinned outside the careers counsellor office at school, yeah? Well, maybe you’re not much for posters, or glancing over documents generally. Perhaps you’ve wondered instead what the Australian Electoral Commission consider a ‘valid and sufficient’ reason to not vote? Come watch the resisters, the ratbags and the disillusioned and be challenged by the 3 most optimistic artists we could find. Can they checkmate some electoral cynicism?

    For our final Late Night Library series for 2017, we’re teaming up with Sydney-based political theatre company Filibuster, to present 4 unique and immersive experiences.

    Set in the Customs House Library reading room. The People’s Table is a public dinner conversation for all.

    Bookings recommended.

    Customs House is wheelchair accessible.

    Customs House Library
    Wednesday 27 September 2017 from 8pm to 9pm
  • Meditation station: Customs House Library
    Sunday 1 October 2017
  • Event details

    During Mental Health Month this October, each City of Sydney Library branch will host a guided meditation station. Our meditation stations will have an iPad loaded with self-directed, anti-anxiety meditations from our eaudiobook collection. Sit down and make yourself comfortable for a 5-minute meditation to slow down your busy day.

    Guided meditations are widely recognised as effective strategies for managing anxiety and nurturing positive mental health.

    This free meditation activity is suitable for all ages. There’s an iPad available at each branch and headphones are provided.

    Bookings aren’t required – drop in at any time during library opening hours and see branch staff if you have any questions. Meditations can also be borrowed by Library members from our eaudiobook collection, so you can meditate using your own device, anywhere and anytime.

    Customs House Library
    Weekdays, 10am to 7pm
    Weekends, 11am to 4pm

    Sunday 1 October to Tuesday 31 October 2017

    Closed on public holidays

  • Tall Tales and True from the City of Sydney Collections
    Thursday 12 October 2017
  • Book now

    Three objects. Three storytellers. Who is telling you stories?

    Inspired by the ABC’s Collectors program join three cunning tellers of tales as they give you the background of three different objects taken directly from the City of Sydney’s upcoming exhibition, 175 years in 175 objects. All claim to be trustworthy but only one of them is telling the ‘truth’.

    Take a dip into the collections of the City of Sydney to explore all manner of curiosities that have made it what it is today. From governing to building, working to inspiring this show will illuminate the people, places and often unexpected things that make up civic life. Resident museophiliac, collections nut and liar, Maxine Kauter, presents this evening in which we explore the vivid intersection of history and perspective that makes up this city’s identity.

    Each of our three story tellers will spin a tale about the history selected objects. All of them will relate tales from the history of this city but only one of them will be telling the truth. Can you spot a tall tale from the true? Our audience will get the chance to outwit our panel of fablers with off the cuff questions. Think you’re an expert? Can you spot a liar? Join us to celebrate the City of Sydney’s 175th anniversary and find out!

    Bookings recommended, however there will be a standby queue on the night.

    Customs House is wheelchair accessible.

    Customs House Library
    Thursday 12 October 2017 from 8pm to 9pm
  • Late Night Library: The People’s Table 3
    Wednesday 25 October 2017
  • Book now

    For our final Late Night Library series for 2017, we’re teaming up with Sydney-based political theatre company Filibuster. Four unique and immersive experiences are like no other past Late Night Library event.

    Democracy has had one too many drinks and it’s time for an intervention. On the last Wednesday of each month, August to November, Filibuster invite you to be our guest at The People’s Table.

    Each night some of Sydney’s most dynamic performance artists will throw a proverbial thought-bomb at a table of diverse Sydney locals. The best bit is you get to watch.

    Fidget-spun democracy set to the soundtrack of Pokemon Go. 12 teenagers are taking on the People’s Table. They can’t vote but they can pay taxes and they’re done with sitting at the kids’ table. They’ll meet 3 artists from Generation No-Longer-Youth who’ll test their ideas, hopes and resolve. Are the children our future? Do they need no education? Find out at The People’s Table.

    Set in the Customs House Library Reading Room. The People’s Table is a public dinner conversation for all.
    Customs House is wheelchair accessible.
    It’s best to book but you can join the stand-by queue on the evening. We look forward to you joining at The People’s Table.

    Customs House Library
    Wednesday 25 October 2017 from 8pm to 9pm
  • Late Night Library: The People’s Table 4
    Wednesday 29 November 2017
  • Book now

    For our final Late Night Library series for 2017, we’re teaming up with Sydney-based political theatre company Filibuster. Four unique and immersive experiences are like no other past Late Night Library event.

    Democracy has had one too many drinks and it’s time for an intervention. Filibuster invites you to be our guest at The People’s Table. Each night 3 of Sydney’s most dynamic performance artists will throw a proverbial thought-bomb at a table of diverse Sydney locals. The best bit is you get to watch.

    The People’s Table – People that don’t know how to vote.

    “Micro/major/minor/mini-parties… huh? I guess the Greens have the inside scoop given the colour of the House of Representatives ballot paper, right? We still use paper? I’ve never listened to the people handing out the instruction manual at the gate. I’ve trouble reading. I’m way in over my head below this line. No idea what you’re doing? You’re not alone. We’re bringing together the cleverest artists we could source with 12 people that don’t know how to vote. Will clarity prevail? Find out at The People’s Table.”

    Set in the Customs House Library Reading Room, The People’s Table is a public dinner conversation for all.
    Customs House is wheelchair accessible.
    It’s best to book but you can join the stand-by queue on the evening. We look forward to you joining The People’s Table.

    Customs House Library
    Wednesday 29 November 2017 from 8pm to 9pm

Last updated: Tuesday, 13 June 2017