• Gabi Warner

Our Top Three Libraries

We're well and truly living in the digital age, nobody could dispute that. It's a time where many of us are casting books aside and turning to Google on our phones and laptops all from the convenience of home. NAPLAN testing has recently moved online, STEM and coding classes are gaining momentum and an increasing number of schools are favouring digital and multi-media based assignments. It's an exciting time to be alive as our education diversifies but have you ever considered what we might be losing?

There's just something about studying in a library that automatically instills a sense of scholarly genius in you. You're surrounded by pages of knowledge with your notebook in front of you and the only sound breaking the silence are people scribbling beside you. At least that's the best description I could give you of a library in the traditional sense and they're still excellent study spots. But these public spaces have also recognised the shift towards technology and many of them have transformed into bustling, innovative social hubs. Some of them are architectural feats in their own right and have been a breath of fresh air for the struggling library scene. They're spectacular places to study outside of school and home, grab a snack and catch up friends and you'd be surprised to know close you are to one.

So with a wealth of libraries to choose from in the City and Eastern Suburbs, we thought we'd let you in on our top five.

State Library

'Old' State Library. Image Credit: Rod Kashubin

Location: Corner of Macquarie Street and Shakespeare Place, a couple minutes walk from Martin Place train station.

Vibe: You've just entered the hallowed halls of Hogwarts and you're calling on the knowledge of all the wizards before you to help you ace your final exams.

When to visit: During your exam period

What's all the fuss about?

Studying at State Library is unofficially a rite of passage for many students reaching the end of high school. It's an ideal spot to study free of distractions and I think its safe to say that this is the quietest library of all. However, its not uncommon to see small clusters of friends across its long tables and benches silently working. Its also a popular spot for uni students and academics.

There are multiple rooms and halls to study in here but they are often categorised as part of 'Old' or 'New' State. It's Australia's oldest library and is recognised as having the most valuable collection of literature and resources in the country. Its connection to Hogwarts is pretty striking at 'Old', the walls are lined with books right to the top of its very high ceilings and many of them are only accessible by ladder. It's decorated with marble, wood, glass, sandstone, paintings and sculptures that are so grand they're likely to raise your IQ as soon as you walk inside.

Woollahra Library

Entrance to Woollahra Library. Image Credit: Gaetano Sirna

Location: New South Head Road, Double Bay

Vibe: It's been a busy day at school and you're looking for somewhere relaxed to pump out your homework for the week.

When to visit: After school

What's all the fuss about?

Woollahra Library is like the happy medium of public study places. It's been given a renovation but it doesn't feel like the futuristic space that Green Square offers. Its a very popular spot for students in the Eastern Suburbs to study at after school and it has all the basic resources you could want. You can borrow books from here (your next wider reading text) which is something that State doesn't offer. You won't need a library card to visit so you can plonk yourself down at a desk among the bookshelves or in the smaller, quieter study rooms. You're also able to book private study spaces which are a fantastic way for your group of friends to revise your notes together or collaborate on your next project.

It's an easy walk down the hill from Edgecliff train station (or catch the bus) and you can pick up the perfect study snack at Woolworths, Bake Bar, Indigo and the like before you go inside.

Here at Insight East we are also offering primary and high school tutoring sessions in Woollahra Library's private study studios. We are welcome to host group sessions as well and look forward to showing you one of our favourite local libraries!

Green Square Library

Looking at Green Square Library from the glass tower. Image Credit: Peter Miller

Location: 355 Botany Road, Zetland (worth the travel)

Vibe: You're preparing for the digital future of the world and want to take a sneak peak at what that may look like.

When to visit: On the weekends

What's all the fuss about?

Ok, Green Square Library may not be your closest option but we promise it's worth the trip.

Compared to State it is entirely at the opposite end of the design scale, embracing the role technology plays in our lives and challenging the public's perception that libraries are a thing of the past. It has all the typical features: private study rooms (free to book!), hard copy and digital resources, wifi, ample desk space and tempting cafes nearby.

But Green Square has really gone beyond the call of duty here. When you arrive you'll be greeted by a glass entry pyramid that leads you underground to the main study space. Looking up, you'll see a suspended garden with plenty of light coming through from an expansive skylight. You could opt to stay here or continue to the 6-storey glass tower that lights up at night. There's plenty of space to work through your English and Maths assignments but Green Square Library gives you opportunities to prepare for the future. You could borrow a robotics or electronics kit or join their 3D printing and coding workshops. Musical instruments including a baby grand piano with panoramic views can also be hired and the library has a seperate reading room to help you cruise through your Shakespeare or read part of their Manga comic collection. It's an exciting space to be a part of so we recommend heading out over the weekend and mixing up your studying with exploring the new-age library landscape.

Our Top Finalists

The City of Sydney and Eastern Suburbs are lucky to have such a wide range of libraries but unfortunately we can't go into detail about all of them. So we thought we'd give a quick shoutout to a few more fantastic spaces. There's a good chance you'll find a library in your suburb and you never know, it may just become your favourite study spot.

  • Paddington Library

  • Waverley Library

  • Surry Hills Library

  • Customs House

  • Darling Square Library

  • University Libraries: USYD, UTS, UNSW

Studying at a library isn't for everyone, perhaps you enjoy working from home, joining study camps or revising outside in the sunshine: whatever works for you. Look out for our fortnightly blogs with all the tips and tricks of the tutoring trade to help you achieve your academic goals!

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