Stanton Library History

Stanton Library was named after James Street Stanton who was Mayor of North Sydney 1937-1939 and a keen supporter of the Free Library Movement [FLM].

The FLM began in response to a 1934 report that criticised the paucity of libraries in NSW. A branch was established shortly after in North Sydney. In 1938 Alderman Stanton advocated the levying of a special tax to subsidise the creation of council libraries in all suburbs. The provision of State subsidies for municipal or shire libraries was subsequently part of the 1939 Library Act. Stanton died in August 1943 and three months later North Sydney Council voted to create a library upon the cessation of the war. In 1945 it was decided to open the ‘Stanton Memorial Library’, as part of a new civic centre development.

There were delays in implementing the 1939 Library Act generally (there were only eight municipal libraries in Sydney in 1951), and delays locally in acquiring the residential blocks adjacent to Council Chambers in Miller Street for the civic centre to accommodate Stanton Memorial Library. Stanton Library opened its doors on 8 February 1964. It featured a striking modern curtain wall façade designed by Council architect John L Browne. It was built by J.P. Cordukes Pty. Ltd. of Concord. The interior decor was the work of the well-known designer, Marion Hall Best.

The collection then held 10,000 books. By the end of March there were 4,600 registered borrowers. In 1979 the book collection had grown to 103,000 volumes. By then the Library was developing a major architecture and town planning collection. In 2014, 50 years after it opened, Stanton had 167,000 items in all formats. Well over 640,000 loans are made each year. Membership of some 40,000 included more than 22,600 North Sydney residents or 33% of the local community. Stanton is now a social hub where clubs meet, authors speak, children listen to ‘story time’, researchers investigate family histories and much more.




1964 Stanton opened by His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, Lieutenant-General, Sir Eric Woodward.
1969 Reference Library.
1970s Audio-visual collection.

Large Print book collection.

Stanton accepted the subject areas of architecture and building in addition to health and fitness as part of the Sydney Subject Specialisation Scheme.

1974 Local History collection established.
1976 First Floor extension.
1979 Home Library Service.
1982 Artists Bronwen Bassett, Jenny Pitty and Kate O'Connor completed the 'Heaven' mural outside the Stanton Library as part of the Women and Art Festival.
1983 Referendum on user fees for Stanton defeated at Council election.

Shorelink Library Network established, opening up five libraries on the Lower North Shore to Stanton users.

1985 ARCH, an architectural database of indexed articles from Stanton's architecture collection established.
1987 Construction began on a new office block including alterations and additions to Stanton.

Management of Don Bank and Sexton's Cottage Museums and the historic St Thomas' Rest Park undertaken by Local History staff.

Merle Coppell began interviewing local residents. These and other recordings later become the Merle Coppell Oral History Collection.

1988 New Stanton opened, incorporating the old Stanton (architect Feiko Bouman). This included extensive audio visual facilities, meeting room for hire, public access computer and the first OPACs, videos, larger display areas, public reading spaces, and an extended Local History area.
1990 ARCH became part of the National Library's CD-ROM indexing service, AUSTROM. Public access to CD-ROM. OPACs (on-line public access catalogue) replaced the Library's card catalogue.

Bill Coppell Young Writers Award.

Writers at Stanton.

1992 Council's historic archives accessioned and made available to the public.
1993 Shorelink upgrade of computerised network.

CD-ROM LAN network installed, providing multiple access to the Library's CD-ROM and other databases.

1994 LAN network link established with Council Chambers, providing on-line access to Council business papers, minutes and the North Sydney Heritage Review database.
1995 Two study rooms opened on the west face (Feiko Bouman).
2000 Shorelink catalogue upgraded and available on-line.

Community information database automated and available on-line.

2001 Library Desk and foyer renovated.
2003 North Sydney Council published Designs on a Landscape: a History of Planning in North Sydney, written by the Council Historian.
2004 Heritage databases available on-line.
2005 Second floor built providing public Conference Room and re-located staff quarters. Project Architect Weng Wong of Budden Nangle Michael & Hudson.

New interior design for all floors by Carola Salazar of Five Spaces Design.

North Sydney Heritage Centre opens on first floor with exhibition celebrating Luna Park artist Arthur Barton in 70th anniversary year of Luna Park.

2006 Wireless internet installed.
2008 Computer booking system installed.
2009 ‘Was thinking of home today…’: North Sydney and the Great War, written by the Council Historian, shortlisted for NSW Premier’s History Prize, Regional and Community History.
2010 Sydney Harbour: A History, written by the Council Historian, won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Prize for History.

Writers at Stanton 20th anniversary.

2011 Costume and object database on-line.
2014 Self-check kiosks.

Stanton celebrated 50th anniversary.

2015 Historic archives consolidated at one site.

Don Bank Museum and garden refurbished.

At Home in North Sydney: an Architectural History of a Locality online exhibition launched, marking Council’s 125th anniversary.

Young Writers Award named for Nan Manefield on 25th anniversary.

2016 Auto-returns kiosks.

Masterplan for Library services in North Sydney completed.


The above information can be found in the Stanton Library Heritage Leaflet (159KB)