History of Kiama Library

library-todayThe first mention of a library in Kiama appears around 1857, with reference to the Kiama Literary and Debating Society. This organisation had the honour of being not only the oldest Society in the district, but also in possession of a well-stocked library.

kiama-examiner-18-june-1861In July 1861, the Literary and Debating Society transferred its library to the newly formed Kiama School of Arts. However, this organisation was also on the wane. The library did not have a reading room, which was a matter of much consternation. However, it was actually the library with its 500-600 volumes which kept the School afloat, whilst the lectures, discussions and membership languished. The librarian was Alfred Cook.

Taking into consideration the lamentable state of the School of Arts, in 1872, Kiama Council considered the establishment of a public library, and in August of that year received a £200 government grant for its establishment. It opened in October with almost 1000 volumes (many of which were handed over by the School of Arts) and was very popular. However, interest dwindled after a few years.

council-chambersltown-country-journal-dec-23-1893In the early 1890s, the School of Arts Library found a home at the Council Chambers, in Terralong Street. It was open every night, except Sundays, between the hours of 7.00pm and 10.00pm.

ki-12-sep-1896In order to replenish the library with new books, the Committee asked the Council to apply to the Government for funds under the Municipalities Act. Books would also be obtained from the Sydney Free Public Library. Strapped for funds, all periodicals and many newspapers were given by friends.

school-of-artsAs far back as the early 1890’s, there was talk of the School building its own premises, with land already having been dedicated to a School of Arts in the Market Square allotment in October 1891.

ki-23-may-1902The new £900 building in Manning Street, designed by P.C. Davies was opened in 1902, and operated by a Citizen’s Committee.

1953 saw the School of Arts Library taken over by Kiama Council, opening on 11th July. Council adopted the Library Act on 15th March 1955, serving a population of 4,350 at the time.

ki-2-march-1897In 1974, Council decided to move the library from the School of Arts to the rear of the old Council Chambers, into a building known as the Drill Hall. This move came about when Council determined that it needed to use the School of Arts building for its engineering department.

drill-hallCouncil then decided to build a new administration centre, which included a new library. The library was moved from the Drill Hall which was subsequently demolished, and transferred into temporary rooms erected on the south side of the old council building. The library was the first completed section of the new Council Chambers and it moved into the new premises on 4th August 1982.

library-squash-courtsIn 1989, the library transferred to its present location on the top floor of converted squash courts in Railway Parade, with the newly formed Kiama Family History Centre on the ground floor.

The library was temporarily relocated to the Showground Pavilion in 2005, whilst renovations were carried out. The newly renovated library opened on 4th April 2006.