Bookings for all Friends events may be made online, through the Friends Office on 02 6262 1698, or by emailing

Ticket payments may be made online or over the phone by credit card. Cheque payments, made payable to ‘The Friends of the National Library of Australia’, should be posted to Friends of the National Library, National Library of Australia, Canberra ACT 2600.  Cash payments may be dropped off at the National Library bookshop during opening hours, and must be delivered in an unsealed envelope, with details of your name, the event and the dollar amount written on the envelope. These will then be passed on to the Friends Office.


Fearful Symmetry: The Medici Legacy and Renaissance Gardens

Gardens both set and follow fashion and exploring garden history reveals surprising insights. Sue Ebury's desire to understand three ground-breaking Renaissance Tuscan gardens made by the Medici around six centuries ago and understand their creators' impulses has taken her on a decade long journey from Ovid and English diarist John Evelyn to today's Professor John Dixon Hunt. Tonight we visit, study and 'read' their importance through paintings, literature and her stunning photographs.

Sue Ebury is the national patron of the Australian Garden History Society and a founding committee member. She is also a member of the National Library Foundation Board. Sue is the biographer of Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop and Kenneth Myer and an honorary research associate in the History Department, University of Hong Kong. She is currently writing the biography of Australian Brigadier Sir Lindsay Ride, academic, and spymaster in China during World War.

Presented in association with the Australian Garden History Society

Thursday 18 June, 6pm
Conference Room
$15 Friends and AGHS members, $20 non-members (includes light refreshments)
Bookings:  02 6262 1698 or


Book Launch: My Salute to Five Bells  by John Olsen

Join the Friends for the launch of the new National Library publication, My Salute to Five Bells, by artist John Olsen AO, OBE.

John Olsen’s striking mural for the Sydney Opera House was his response to the poem, Five Bells, by Kenneth Slessor. In My Salute to Five Bells, Olsen writes about his inspiration for the mural, his process of creation, and the aftermath. The book includes a previously unseen self-portrait and paintings that reveal the creative path he took, ending with a moving self-penned poem, Farewell to Five Bells. The centrepiece is Olsen’s Opera House Journal, in which the artist combined images, sketches and notes, a treasure of the National Library’s collection.

Sunday 26 July, 1pm
$15 Friends, $20 non-members (includes light refreshments)
Bookings:  02 6262 1698 or


Celebrating 150 Years of W.B. Yeats

Join us for an afternoon of poetry and song to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Irish poet William Butler Yeats. MC for the afternoon will be Professor Ronan McDonald, Director of the Global Irish Studies Centre UNSW and the Australian Ireland Fund Chair in Modern Irish Studies, who will contextualise the works performed.

In association with the Friends of Ireland and the Embassy of Ireland

Sunday 2 August, 2pm
$25 Friends of the NLA & Friends of Ireland, $35 non-members (includes afternoon tea)
Bookings:  02 6262 1698 or


The Desolate Kingdom: 2015 Friends Creative Arts Fellowship Lecture

Composer Chris Williams, 2015 Friends Creative Arts Fellow, discusses his Fellowship project The Desolate Kingdom: exploring the imaginary cultural space of Nigel Butterley’s ‘lost opera’.  This project involved both reconstructing and arranging for performance the hitherto unheard ‘lost’ sketch of Butterley’s opera, as well as composing an original response which drew on the examination of Butterley’s papers and those of related composers.  The lecture will feature recent recordings of these new compositions, as performed by the Sydney Chamber Opera.

Tuesday 18 August, 6pm
$10 Friends & full-time students, $15 non-members
Bookings:  02 6262 1698 or


Story Time

Bring your children or grandchildren to the monthly Friends of the National Library Story Time sessions. Enjoy hearing new tales and rediscovering old favourites, as told by members of the ACT Storytellers Guild.

Thursday 18 June
Thursday 16 July
Thursday 20 August

11.30am, Ferguson Room
Free for Friends and their accompanying children
$5 per child for non-members

Bookings not required, pay at the door


Friends Book Club

A monthly literary discussion, run by Friends members.

Tuesday 30 June – The Climb by Geraldine Doogue

Tuesday 28 April – The Golden Age by Joan London

Tuesday 26 May - The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

6.15pm, Friends Lounge
Free, bookings not required
For Friends members only


Free Film Screenings

In association with the Reel McCoy Film Society, the Friends present monthly film screenings exclusively for members of both organisations. 

Wednesday 17 June, 6pm -  Psycho (USA 1960, 109 mins, M)

Wednesday 15 July, 5.30pm - Man with a Movie Camera (USA 1929, 68mins, NR)

Wednesday 19 August, 5.30pm - A Lesson on Love (USA 1954, 96mins, PG)

Free, bookings not required
Enquiries: 02 6262 1698