Today, I spent the whole afternoon reading books at the State Library of NSW after visiting the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park South. The State Library of NSW is situated between the Royal Botanic Gardens and Parliament House on Macquarie Street, Sydney. One kilometre to the north, is the famous Sydney Opera House on Circular Quay.
I really enjoyed reading there. Most of the books I read there were encyclopedias, particularly those regarding computing history, world atlas and food. I learnt a lot.
For example, frankly, I saw a lot of foods here in Australian supermarkets which I had never seen before relocating to Australia. I need to make sure what the hell they are before actually eating them, hehe. ;-)) The encyclopaedias about foods were really informative. I was also told that several vegetables, such as ginger, eggplant and cucumber which I often ate before, only have little amount of nutrition and are not recommended in the classical Food Guide Pyramid. Jeez, is this why I am so lanky?! :-))
The whole library inside looked like a large research centre. All the people were conscientiously reading books, writing notes or viewing computer screens, including the guard who was seriously monitoring the timely switched video surveillance screens. ;-) In fact, while registering I was told by a librarian that this library is solely for research, therefore its collections cannot be borrowed directly. Anyway, the readers may access the collections there free of charge and photocopy parts of them as necessary.
As the Library states, "one of the principal responsibilities of the State Library is to collect, maintain and preserve the documentary heritage of New South Wales", consequently "the Library holds significant collections of printed and electronic materials and a wide range of information resources as well as world renowned, unique original manuscripts, pictorial materials, oral histories, maps and architectural plans which range from European voyages of exploration to the present, including the earliest European documentation relating to Aboriginal peoples."
Fortunately, some of the collections have been available for online presentation, so people can take a virtual library tour from the Library's Online Collections page.
Internet access is available for free in the reading area. After simply registering, the readers who use wireless enabled notebooks can also access the Internet for free. I tried it; certainly, the connection was fast and stable.
I stayed there until the Library closed at 6 pm, then had to join in the crowd which filled up the Sydney CBD area at the rush hour on the Friday evening. It made me recall that similar crowded weekend in Downtown Seattle when I went to the cinema before flying back to China the next day in December 2005.
Why doesn't the State Library open more hours a day? :-(
BTW, a high-resolution picture (3072 x 2304, 3666 KB) of the State Library of NSW is available at Wikipedia. This nice picture has never been caught by Google Images.