Mei Emmons

Mei Emmons

Published: 23 Sep 2023


The Mitchell Library is a place that is equal parts fascinating and enigmatic. Located in Sydney, Australia, it is one of the largest and oldest libraries in the country, boasting a collection that spans over 2 million items. Named after David Scott Mitchell, a wealthy book collector who bequeathed his extensive collection to the library, it has become a treasure trove for researchers, scholars, and book lovers alike.

But what makes the Mitchell Library truly unique are the hidden gems and intriguing stories that lie within its walls. From secret tunnels and mysterious manuscripts to famous visitors and literary legends, there is no shortage of enigmatic facts that surround this iconic institution. In this article, we will delve into 9 of the most captivating and lesser-known facts about the Mitchell Library that will leave you intrigued and eager to explore its depths.

Table of Contents

The Oldest Public Library in Australia

The Mitchell Library holds the distinction of being the oldest public library in Australia. Established in 1826, it has remained a beacon of knowledge and culture for over two centuries.

A Vast Collection of Rare Books

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Mitchell Library is its extensive collection of rare books. With over one million items, including rare manuscripts, maps, and early printed books, it is a treasure trove for book enthusiasts and researchers alike.

The Remarkable Mitchell Wing

The Mitchell Wing is an architectural masterpiece that houses the main reading room of the library. Its stunning domed ceiling and intricate woodwork make it a truly enchanting place to explore the written word.

Home to the Australiana Collection

The Mitchell Library is renowned for its Australiana Collection, which comprises materials that showcase the history and culture of Australia. From early colonial documents to Aboriginal artifacts, this collection offers a unique insight into the country’s rich heritage.

A Hub for Genealogical Research

If you are eager to trace your family tree, the Mitchell Library is the place to be. Its extensive genealogical resources, including birth, death, and marriage records, make it a valuable resource for anyone interested in exploring their ancestry.

The Dixson Galleries

The Mitchell Library is also home to the Dixson Galleries, which house an impressive collection of artworks, including paintings, drawings, and photographs. These galleries provide a visual feast for art enthusiasts and offer a glimpse into Australia’s artistic legacy.

An Architectural Marvel

The Mitchell Library building itself is a true architectural marvel. Its grand facade and elegant design make it a landmark in Sydney’s cultural landscape.

Preserving Indigenous Languages

The Mitchell Library plays a crucial role in preserving and promoting Indigenous languages. It houses a significant collection of Indigenous language materials, including dictionaries, grammar books, and oral histories.

An Inspiration for Writers

Many renowned authors and poets have found inspiration within the walls of the Mitchell Library. Its serene and scholarly atmosphere has sparked creativity in countless literary minds over the years.

So, if you are a bibliophile or a history enthusiast, make sure to visit the Mitchell Library and explore its 9 enigmatic facts and treasures.


The Mitchell Library is a truly remarkable landmark filled with rich history, fascinating architecture, and a vast collection of books and resources. From its humble beginnings as a public lending library to becoming one of the largest reference libraries in Europe, the Mitchell Library has played a significant role in promoting and preserving knowledge.Visitors can explore its stunning architecture, delve into its extensive collection, and uncover the hidden stories behind this iconic landmark. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a literature lover, or simply curious about the world of libraries, the Mitchell Library is a must-visit destination.So next time you find yourself in Glasgow, make sure to stop by the Mitchell Library and immerse yourself in its enchanting atmosphere, where centuries of knowledge and culture are waiting to be discovered.


1. What is the history behind the Mitchell Library?

The Mitchell Library was opened in 1877 and named after its benefactor, Stephen Mitchell. It started as a public lending library and has since grown to become one of the largest reference libraries in Europe.

2. What can I find in the Mitchell Library?

The Mitchell Library houses an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, maps, and other resources. It covers a wide range of subjects, including literature, history, art, and more.

3. Can I access the Mitchell Library’s resources?

Yes, the resources in the Mitchell Library are available for public use. However, some materials may require special permission or appointments to access.

4. Is the Mitchell Library open to the public?

Yes, the Mitchell Library is open to the public. Visitors can explore the library, attend events and exhibitions, and use the reading rooms and study spaces.

5. Is photography allowed inside the Mitchell Library?

Photography is not allowed in the reading rooms or the study areas. However, you may be allowed to take photographs in designated areas or during special events with prior permission.

6. Are there guided tours available at the Mitchell Library?

Yes, the Mitchell Library offers guided tours where you can learn more about the history, architecture, and highlights of the library. Check their website or inquire at the library for tour schedules and availability.

7. Can I borrow books from the Mitchell Library?

The Mitchell Library primarily functions as a reference library, so borrowing books for personal use is not allowed. However, you can use the library resources on-site and make notes or photocopies if needed.

8. Are there any special events or exhibitions held at the Mitchell Library?

Yes, the Mitchell Library frequently hosts events, exhibitions, and talks that showcase various aspects of literature, history, and culture. Keep an eye on their website or social media pages for updates on upcoming events.

9. Is there parking available at the Mitchell Library?

There is limited parking available near the Mitchell Library, but it is advisable to use public transportation as parking space may be limited. The library is easily accessible by bus and subway.