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.


  • 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
  • Young Change Agents
    Tuesday 23 January 2018
  • Book now

    This 2 and a half day workshop will interest young people passionate about social change through entrepreneurship with a technology focus.

    This program is for 10 to 13 year-olds only.

    Facilitated by Young Change Agents, this program encourages young people to see problems as opportunities.

    It provides them with the tools to think creatively and build communication skills. The workshop empowers particpants to believe that they are good enough to be entrepreneurs, leaders and world changers.

    Best of all, it’s fun and exciting to learn how to create a social startup. We use tools and techniques used in real startup incubators and just like a lean startup, there will be limited time to get stuff done!

    With input from industry leaders, this program will give young people an invaluable start on their entrepreneurial journey.

    What to expect!
    1. A fast paced environment. You will work in teams to solve a problem you care about!
    2. Lots of brainstorming (we call it ideation!) and presenting your creative ideas (we really care what you think!)
    3. Creating a business that focuses on making a difference to someone else on our planet
    4. Pitching in front of the group to get your idea out there and for feedback

    This is a free event!
    Participants are required to attend all days.
    Come as an individual or as a small group of up to 6.

    Participants to bring their own lunch and snacks.

    Parents can attend the final session where participants pitch their ideas to a panel of industry leaders in the Barnet Long Room.

    Prizes will be awarded for the best social startup project!

    This program will be supervised by Young Change Agents and City of Sydney staff.

    Bookings essential.
    A parental permission note will need to be completed to confirm a spot in this program.

    Customs House Library
    Tuesday 23 January 2018 from 9am to 4pm
    Wednesday 24 January 2018 from 9am to 4pm
    Thursday 25 January 2018 from 9am to 1pm
  • Tech Savvy Seniors @ Customs House
    Wednesday 7 February 2018
  • Book now

    This free series funded by the Telstra Foundation and FACS. The workshops are designed to help older people gain confidence in basic computer and digital skills.

    Book in for 1 or more of the small group sessions below:

    Introduction to computers – 7 February
    This workshop covers what a computer is, its components and how it’s operated. You’ll learn to use a mouse and keyboard and then road test your skills to create your first document.

    Introduction to internet part 1 – 14 February
    Become familiar with how to access and surf the web so you can go home, sign up for an internet service and hang out on the www yourself.

    Introduction to internet part 2 – 21 Feb
    We’ll look at ways to make web navigation a breeze and seek out video and music add-ons. You’ll leave knowing how to keep yourself safe online and tips for the best sites.

    Introduction to email – 28 February
    Keep connected to family and friends with email. We’ll walk you through setting up a free Gmail email account and how to send, read and reply to your emails.

    Online shopping and banking part 1 – 7 March
    From booking a holiday to buying groceries, we’ll take you through the process of buying something and how to stay safe banking and shopping online.

    Introduction to online shopping and banking part 2 – 14 March
    Following on from part 1, find out how you can save time paying bills online and learn how to browse, buy and sell using websites like eBay and about payment options like PayPal.

    Introduction to social media – 21 March
    Get sharp with social media’s famous three: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We’ll take you through a run-down of which social media to use and when.

    Customs House Library
    Wednesdays, 10.30am to 12.30pm

    Wednesday 7 February to Wednesday 21 March 2018

  • Lunar Lanterns artists talk
    Thursday 22 February 2018
  • Book now

    The spectacular Sydney Chinese New Year Festival runs from 16 February to 4 March 2018. During the festival, the city is alive with giant illuminated Chinese zodiac animal lanterns. 2018 is the Year of the Dog, and we’ll be talking about all things light at the library.

    Join lantern designers, Song Ling (The Dog), and Kevin Bathman (The Tiger), in conversation with Festival Curator, Claudia Chan Shaw. We’ll delve into a discussion about how these lanterns came to be.

    Claudia Chan Shaw (Sydney Chinese New Year Festival Curator)
    You might recognise Claudia from her stint as a host of ABC TV’s Collectors, but this custodian of Chinese culture is also an author as well as an art and design collaborator. Commanding the crowd as a public speaker, MC and lecturer, Claudia wears many professional hats.

    Song Ling 
    Coming to Australia from China in 1988, Song Ling was pivotal in China’s 1985 New Wave art movement. Based on hand-painted dots, contrasting textural and surface effects, Song Ling’s work uses a symbolic colour palette, drawing on the hues found in Chinese folk art and embroidery. Brimming with contradictions, his work employs both traditional and contemporary techniques.

    Kevin Bathman
    Malaysian-born and Sydney-based, this designer, storyteller and curator is a social change advocate. Using the arts as a catalyst for change, Kevin co-founded an initiative called Carnival of the Bold in 2013. Showcasing artists that use their craft to enrich cultural identity, the movement explores shared values and empowers communities. Kevin is currently researching the connections between Chinese and Indian culture for his project, The Chindian Diaries.

    This free event will attract a large audience. Bookings are recommended.

    Customs House Library
    Thursday 22 February 2018 from 7pm to 8.30pm

Last updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2018