Key events in the history of Libraries ACT


In 1913, Canberra was chosen as the capital city of Australia. The Centenary of Canberra is being celebrated in 2013.

Public library services in the ACT began as part of the National Library of Australia, a Commonwealth Government service. Responsibility for the public library transferred to the ACT Government with self-government in 1989.


1930-39 | 1940-49 | 1950-59 | 1960-69 | 1970-79 | 1980-89 | 1990-99 | 2000-09 | 2010-19



  • 1935 A building is erected on Kings Avenue to house the National Library collection, with a lending service to the people of Canberra conducted from the ground floor


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  • 1947 Extension Division of the National Library created to be responsible for developing public library services in the ACT
  • 1948 Current fiction added to the national collection which still formed the basis of the public lending service


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  • 1952 Pilot children's library opened at Canberra Technical College, Kingston
  • 1953 Similar children's library service opened at Corroboree Park, Ainslie 
  • 1959 Mobile Library began operations
  • 1959 Tokens used to borrow books on the Mobile Library, while a modified Newark Card System is used at the library at Kings Avenue
  • 1959 Service points for children operating at Yarralumla and Turner with a card catalogue


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  • 1960 The name Canberra Public Library Service adopted
  • 1961 Kings Avenue building became headquarters for the Canberra Public Library Service
  • 1961 Civic Library opened in the North Building
  • 1963 Canberra Public Library Service Advisory Committee set up to advise the Council of the National Library
  • 1964 Part-time library opened at Hughes
  • 1964 Boys and Girls Library opened at Lyneham
  • 1966 Temporary library opened in Downer
  • 1966 Boys and Girls Library opened at Red Hill and Narrabundah
  • 1969 Dickson Library opened as the first permanent district library
  • 1969 Interim library opened at Jamison
  • 1969 Boys and Girls Library opened at Curtin and O'Connor


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  • 1970 Central Library collection previously housed at the National Library's Kings Avenue building relocated to Leichhardt Street, Kingston
  • 1974 Paperbacks added to the collection
  • 1975 Music listening facilities introduced at Kingston
  • 1975 Canberra Public Library Service first in Australia to develop a book catalogue based on the use of MARC data - all newly received material entered into a computer generated catalogue
  • 1977 Music listening facilities introduced at Dickson
  • 1977 New catalogue converted to microfiche
  • 1977 Lending of printed music commenced
  • 1977 Woden Town Centre Library opened
  • 1977 Hughes service point closed - Mawson, Turner, Yarralumla service points also closed during the 1970s
  • 1978 Cassette library for the print handicapped introduced
  • 1978 Interim library opens at Kippax
  • 1979 Tokens used to borrow books increased from two to four per library member


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  • 1981 Responsibility for Canberra Public Library Service transferred from National Library to Department of Capital Territory
  • 1981 Belconnen Library opened
  • 1981 Jamison service point closed
  • 1981 Home Library Service introduced for housebound residents
  • 1983 Erindale Library opened by HRH the Princess of Wales
  • 1983 Mobile Library started visiting retirement villages, while maintaining rural stops at Tharwa and Hall
  • 1983 Last of the boys and Girls Libraries at Curtin, Narrabundah, Red Hill and O'Connor closed
  • 1984 Mobile Library pulled by a prime mover retired and replaced by a vehicle built by Mercedes Benz
  • 1986 Name changed from Canberra Public Library Service to ACT Library Service
  • 1989 Barcoding of library collection commenced
  • 1989 Self-government for ACT - responsibility for library services transfered to ACT Government


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  • 1990 Automated library management system goes live (Bookplus)
  • 1990 Tuggeranong Library opened
  • 1990 Civic Library moved from North Building to Saraton Building in East Row
  • 1991 Inaugural children's choice book awards, known as the COOL Awards, announced 
  • 1994 Kingston Library (Leichhardt Street) relocated to old Griffith Primary School in Blaxland Crescent, Griffith 
  • 1995 ACT Heritage Library officially opened at Griffith Library, housing the local history collection
  • 1995 Dial up access from home computers to ACT Library Service catalogue made available
  • 1996 Internet access available at the library
  • 1999 Women's Information Referral Service becomes part of ACT Library Service


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  • 2000 Library website launched, using the name ACT Virtual Library
  • 2000 ACT Public Library and Specialist Library Services combined, and name changed from ACT Library Service to ACT Library and Information Service
  • 2000 Library Customer Information Centre (call centre) begins operations
  • 2001 ACT Heritage Library moved from Griffith Library to Woden Library
  • 2001 Gungahlin Library opened 
  • 2001 Dickson Library refurbishment completed
  • 2003 New library management system implemented (Horizon)
  • 2003 New library website launched
  • 2003 Erindale Library refurbishment completed
  • 2004 Woden Library refurbishment completed
  • 2005 Kippax Library opened adjacent to Kippax Shopping Centre, replacing interim library
  • 2006 Belconnen Library refurbishment completed
  • 2006 eBook and eAudio book service introduced
  • 2006 Women's Information Referral Service transferred from ACT Library and Information Service
  • 2006 Griffith Library closed
  • 2006 Civic Library moved from Saraton Building to the new Canberra Theatre and Link building in Civic Square
  • 2009 Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) implemented across library branches
  • 2009 Kingston Library opened on Giles Street, Kingston


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  • 2010 Wireless Internet access introduced
  • 2011 Name changed from ACT Library and Information Service to Libraries ACT
  • 2011 New library website launched
  • 2011 New Gungahlin Library opened on the corner of Hibberson and Gozzard Streets
  • 2011 Online computer bookings introduced
  • 2012 National Year of Reading celebrated
  • 2012 Canberra Readers' Festival held
  • 2013 ACT Digital Hub opened at Gungahlin Library
  • 2013 New device-responsive library website launched


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