Customs House Library

Holiday hours

Check our opening times for Christmas and the new year.

Something for everyone

The Customs House Library is located in the heart of vibrant Circular Quay – the major hub for Sydney’s city workers, visitors and international tourists. Custom House is a dynamic and exciting public space that includes a grand atrium, helix staircase, exhibition spaces, restaurants and bars. 

Customs House is one of Sydney's finest historical buildings, yet it hosts one of the most stylised contemporary libraries in Sydney. It has bold, modern furnishings as well as traditional library spaces, spanning over 3 levels. Features include a beautiful and quiet Grand Reading Room, comfy lounges on the ground floor and the largest range of local and international newspapers and magazines in any Australian public library.

The library is a great place to relax, meet friends, read or research, and it has free internet access via library computers and free wifi. It is open 7 days a week.

31 Alfred Street
Circular Quay NSW 2000

02 9242 8555
TTY: 02 9242 8575

Opening hours

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


Loans, renewals and returns

  • You can borrow as many as 30 items for as long as 3 weeks.
  • You can renew items online (with your library card number) or you can send an email to
  • You can also call us or visit the branch.

Community languages

  • Japanese books
  • Korean books
  • Chinese newspapers
  • Fijian newspapers
  • French newspapers
  • German newspapers
  • Italian newspapers
  • Japanese newspapers
  • Korean newspapers
  • Spanish newspapers
  • Chinese magazines
  • Italian magazines
  • Japanese DVDs and CDs
  • Korean DVDs and CDs
  • What’s on
  • Augmented reality sandbox
    Wednesday 16 January 2019
  • Event details

    Join us for sand play with a difference using the University of Sydney’s augmented reality sandbox.

    Build mountains, valleys, rivers and even volcanoes using real sand and 3D visualisation technology.

    Create your own miniature landscapes as you move the sand around and watch it interact with 3D topographical projections onto the terrain.

    See how you can modify the Sydney cityscape to show the impact of changes to the geography.

    Make it rain by spreading your hands over the landscape and watch as water fills the hollows to create new rivers and lakes.

    This interactive experience is part of the Cartographica – Sydney on the map exhibition at Customs House. This new exhibition celebrates intriguing visual interpretations of our city’s landscape and the art of cartography.

    The Augmented Reality Sandbox represents the latest in technology for depicting and manipulating landscapes in 3D. It has been especially adapted for use for this exhibition.

    You can drop in during the following times to experience the Augmented Reality Sandbox:

    • Wednesday 16 January, 11am to 1pm
    • Saturday 19 January, 11am to 3pm
    • Tuesday 22 January, 11am to 1pm
    • Saturday 2 February, 11am to 3pm
    • Saturday 16 Febrary, 11am to 3pm

    This free activity is suitable for adults and children over 5 years old. Bookings are not required.

    Presented by City of Sydney Library with the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Sydney.

    Customs House Library
    Wednesday 16 January 2019 from 11am to 1pm
    Saturday 19 January 2019 from 11am to 3pm
    Tuesday 22 January 2019 from 11am to 1pm
    Saturday 2 February 2019 from 11am to 3pm
    Saturday 16 February 2019 from 11am to 3pm
  • Chinese calligraphy demonstration: Customs House
    Tuesday 5 February 2019
  • Book now

    During the spectacular Sydney Lunar Festival from 1 to 10 February, we’ll be celebrating the Year of the Pig at the library with some fun festivities.

    Learn the beauty of the brush stroke as master artists from the Australian Chinese Artists’ Society compose the characters of Chinese calligraphy.

    Take the time to digest the detail behind this captivating cultural expression and go home with your own handwritten souvenir courtesy of our calligraphers.

    Chinese calligraphy is an expressive form of visual poetry and holds a valuable place in the heart of Chinese culture.

    Our calligraphy artists will be taking up their brushes in residence over 2 hours at both Customs House and Green Square libraries.

    This is a free demonstration and everyone is welcome to drop by to see the artists at work.

    Customs House Library
    Tuesday 5 February 2019 from 12pm to 2pm
  • Sydney Lunar Festival: Lantern artist talk
    Thursday 7 February 2019
  • Book now

    The spectacular Sydney Lunar Festival runs from 1 to 10 February 2019. During the festival, the city is alive with giant illuminated Chinese zodiac animal lanterns. 2019 is the Year of the Pig, and we’ll be talking about all things light at the library.

    Join Sydney Lunar Festival lantern designers, Louise Zhang and Laurens Tan in conversation with festival curator, Valerie Khoo. Backlit with story, we’ll delve into a discussion about how these lanterns came to be.

    Valerie Khoo
    Valerie is a visual artist and designer. Valerie has been a finalist in numerous art prizes and also mentors creatives in their career journey. A former magazine editor, she is passionate about fusing storytelling with art and is also CEO of the Australian Writers’ Centre.

    Louise Zhang (Monkey lantern)
    Louise is a Chinese-Australian artist who has developed a cult following for her paintings, sculptures and installations. Her works mash together references as diverse as horror films and Chinese mythology, all articulated in the artist’s signature sugary palette. The seductive relationship between attraction and repulsion is key in Louise’s practice. She has become known for work which is both beautiful and strange, monstrous and cute.

    Laurens Tan (Ox lantern)
    Laurens is an Australian sculptor and interdisciplinary artist working across art, design and music. Born in Holland with Fujian Chinese ancestry, his family migrated to Australia in 1962. Laurens’ sculpture and 3D animation connect contemporary form with customs and heritage. His long running projects in Las Vegas and Beijing see him living and working between his 3 studios in Australia, China and the US.

    This free event will attract a large audience – bookings are recommended.

    This event will be Auslan interpreted.

    Customs House Library
    Thursday 7 February 2019 from 7.30pm to 8.30pm

Join the library

Membership is free for NSW residents. Complete the online application form and enjoy borrowing up to 30 items for 3 weeks.