Customs House Library

Customs House Library

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Temporary closure

All City of Sydney libraries will close on Friday 1 December 2017. This is due to a staff development day. The libraries will re-open as normal on Saturday 2 December 2017.

After-hours return chutes are available at Glebe, Green Square, Haymarket, Newtown, Surry Hills, Ultimo and Waterloo library branches.

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.


  • 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 You can also telephone or drop in to the branch.


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

  • What’s on
  • Tech Savvy Seniors @ Customs House Library
    Wednesday 22 November 2017
  • Book now

    This free 6-part series is designed to help older people improve their computer and digital literacy.

    Get technology on your side by keeping connected, accessing vital services and doing business. Join us for the whole series or pick and choose the sessions that best suit your needs.

    Get savvy using our library PCs and dive into the digital world.

    Funded by the Telstra Foundation and FACS.

    Introduction to computers – 1 November.
    Introduction to internet part 1 – 8 November 2017.
    Introduction to internet part 2 – 15 November 2017.
    Introduction to email – 22 November 2017.
    Introduction to cybersafety: how to stay safe online – 29 November 2017.
    Introduction to social media – 6 December 2017.

    Sessions are free, run for 2 hours and cater for 8 people. Bookings are essential as there are loads of keen learners.

    Customs House Library
    Wednesdays, 10.30am to 12.30pm

    Wednesday 1 November to Wednesday 6 December 2017

  • 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
  • All Abilities Musical Jam and Storytime
    Sunday 3 December 2017
  • Book now

    The City of Sydney Library is teaming up with Musica Viva, the Deaf Society and Vision Australia to present an all abilities event to celebrate International Day of People with Disability.

    11.30am and 12.30pm
    Auslan storytime

    These engaging sessions are suitable for pre-school age deaf and hearing children and their families. Library staff and deaf presenters team up to deliver storytime sessions in English and Auslan. Parents or guardians are required to stay during the session.

    1.30 – 2pm
    Feelix Storytime

    This special sensory storytime is suitable for pre-school age children with vision impairment as well as sighted children and their families. Staff from Vision Australia’s Feelix Library bring stories to life through braille, tactile books, objects and craft. Feelix storytime kits help children with vision impairment learn and develop in a unique, sensory way to support literacy. Parents or guardians are required to stay during the session.

    The Feelix Library will also be available to explore before and after the half hour storytime session (from 11.30am – 3.30pm).

    2.30 – 3.30pm
    All Ages All Abilities music workshop

    For all ages and abilities, this fun and inclusive workshop lets you explore musical expression in a supportive group environment. Led by Musica Viva ensemble, The World According to James, this session combines performance with tactile, interactive opportunities. By playing percussion instruments, feeling vibratory sensations, singing and using body percussion, all participants can access music. This workshop will be Auslan interpreted.

    About The World According to James

    James Greening is a leading jazz trombonist. Through his tight-knit ensemble, discover jazz and improvisation, as you learn to be ‘in the moment’ and turn ‘mistakes’ into masterpieces.

    This is a free event, however, as session numbers are limited, bookings are recommended.

    Customs House Library
    Sunday 3 December 2017 from 11.30am to 3.30pm
  • Political Children: Performance & workshop
    Friday 8 December 2017
  • Event details

    Presented by the City of Sydney in partnership with Spark Youth Theatre and Inner West Council.

    City of Sydney Library is giving high school students unique opportunities to explore politics and find their own voice through performance.

    In 2014, the Abbott government committed a small amount of federal funding to an anti-bullying program known as Safe Schools. In 2015, the program was investigated and a political storm brewed. Funding was abandoned a year later. Now, in 2017, Safe Schools has been left dead in the water.

    Using Hansard transcripts, newspaper articles and online content, this timely piece of theatre asks, What sparked this reaction? Who will it affect? And won’t somebody please think of the children!

    Political Children shines a magnifying glass on the still-raging Safe Schools debate, now set against the postal survey on same-sex marriage. This humorous, yet hard-hitting production is written and directed by Felicity Nicol in collaboration with the young cast.

    “A deep exploration into the complex social aspects of sexual and gender diversity… [with] teenagers full of gumption.” – Suzy Goes See.

    3 performances:

    Workshop: For the record
    From books and blogs to newspapers and news feeds, we float in a sea of recorded histories. Learn how to dive beneath the surface examining what’s been said in the past to have your say about the future.

    Join Felicity Nicol and create your own performance that combines personal and political words, posts and tweets to explore issues you’re passionate about. No prior theatre experience is necessary.

    2 workshop times:

    This free event is suitable for ages 13 and over. The workshop is for high school students only. Parents wanting to attend the performance with their children are welcome.

    Customs House Library
    Friday 8 December 2017 from 7pm to 8pm
    Saturday 9 December 2017 from 3pm to 7pm
    Sunday 10 December 2017 from 2pm to 6pm

Last updated: Monday, 6 November 2017