To assist readers in accessing our unique collections and eResources, we have answered some frequently asked questions relating to: 

Your visit to the Library

What services will be available? 

From Monday, 29 June 2020 the National Library’s Main Reading Room, Special Collections Reading Room and Petherick Reading Room will be open from 10am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.  

Access is limited to 140 readers in the Main Reading Room and 30 readers in the Special Collections Reading Room (including the Petherick Reading Room). 

Once you arrive at the Library, you will be able to access: 

  • Your requested collection material – from either the Main Reading Room or the Special Collections Reading Room. 

  • A desk. 

  • The Library’s free wifi to use to search the collections on your own device. 

  • Limited printing, photocopying and scanning facilities. Note that, printing credit can be added to your library card through cashless payments only. 

We recommend readers bring their own device and a camera if they need to make copies of collection material. We will be asking users to limit their time on Library equipment and be mindful of others waiting.  Sanitising wipes are available for use on equipment before and after it is used. 

Limited on-site reference services are available. We encourage you to submit your reference enquiries via the online Ask a Librarian service. 

What collections are accessible?

All collections are available for request with most delivered according to our standard collection delivery times.    

Remember to log-in to the National Library Catalogue to see the status of your requests and to check which reading room it will be available in prior to your visit. 

At this time stack passes and reading room display material (including new books, journals and daily newspapers) are not available. Please speak with staff regarding alternative ways to access this material. 

Please Note: Due to access conditions and other restrictions not all material will be able to be supplied during this timeframe. Standard access conditions and restrictions apply. 

Can I use the open access microform or reference material in the reading rooms? 

Yes. This material remains on open access in the reading rooms and is available for use. As it is high use, we ask you to be extra vigilant with your own personal hygiene to protect yourself and others. 

Can I print and copy documents?  

Yes, limited print, scan and copy services will be available. However, we recommend visitors bring their own cameras and make photographic copies if possible. 

Printing credit can be added to your library card through cashless payments only.

Can I place collections on hold for another visit?

Yes, although the standard reserve period of seven days still applies. Ask staff for assistance and directions as our procedures have changed. 

Do I need to book a ticket? 

No. Visitors are no longer required to pre-book a ticket to visit the Library. 

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Health and safety of visitors and staff 

What safety and hygiene measures are in place?  

The health and safety of our visitors and staff is always our top priority and we will be fully complying with the ACT Health guidelines to protect everyone who visits.  

  • Hand hygiene facilities will be available at the entrance to the Library, entrance to the reading rooms and in other key locations.   

  • Bathrooms will be stocked with hand soap and paper towels, and instructions on how to wash hands properly will be provided.  

  • All hard surfaces in the reading rooms will be thoroughly cleaned daily. High touch points will be cleaned throughout the day. Anti-bacterial wipes will also be available for readers to wipe down equipment such as the computer keyboards and mice before and after use.  

  • Physical distancing measures will be implemented, with queuing systems in place and signage clearly displayed. Access to the Main Reading Room will be limited to 140 readers and 30 readers in the Special Collections Reading Room (i.e.: 1 person per 4 square metres) at any one time. Readers are requested to limit their movement around the reading rooms, refrain from moving chairs and to follow physical distancing guidelines. 

  • Shared stationery items have been removed (including USBs, headphones, pencils and staplers). 

  • Collection returns will be quarantined for 24 hours before being made available to request again.   

Please stay home if you’re unwell - visitors exhibiting symptoms of illness may be asked to leave

Visitors are asked to comply with health and hygiene measures including physical distancing and using the hand sanitiser provided. If the reading rooms have reached maximum capacity under the ACT Government’s guidelines, you may be asked to delay your entry. 

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What will open and when 

When will you open?  

From Monday, 29 June 2020 the National Library’s Main Reading Room, Special Collections Reading Room and Petherick Reading Room will be open from 10am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.  

Access is limited to 140 readers in the Main Reading Room and 30 readers in the Special Collections Reading Room (including the Petherick Reading Room). 

The National Library of Australia is progressively increasing reading room services and opening hours in line with the ACT Government’s COVID-19 Canberra Recovery Plan

When will the other public areas of the Library open?

We will progressively increase reading room services and opening hours in line with the ACT Government’s COVID-19 Canberra Recovery Plan.  Please keep an eye on our website or follow our social media channels for the latest updates and news.  

Will I be able to attend talks and other events at the Library?  

Public programs and learning activities will continue to be delivered online at this stage. Our full offerings are available on our What’s On page. 

Can I visit the NLA Bookshop?  

Yes. The National Library Bookshop is now open from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am-3pm on weekends. You can also continue to purchase Australian books and gifts from our online bookshop.  

Will the exhibitions galleries be open?  

The exhibition galleries remain closed. We are progressively increasing our services and opening hours and look forward to welcoming back visitors to the Treasures Gallery and our new exhibition, Australian Dreams: Picturing our Built World, soon. Please keep an eye on our website or follow our social media channels for the latest updates and news. 

In the meantime, please enjoy our online Stories content

Will the Bookplate and Paperplate cafes be open?  

Bookplate café has re-opened daily for takeaways and dine-in service for up to 50 customers at a time. For more information and to make an online reservation, please visit their website

Paperplate café and the communal area on Lower Ground 1 remain closed at this stage. 

Can I use the Friends Lounge?

The Friends Lounge is closed in this initial period. We still need to take precautions to protect you, other visitors, and our staff, so not all areas will be available at this stage. 

Can I book a venue for a meeting, training course or event?  

Our venues remain closed at this stage. Please keep an eye on our website or follow our social media channels for the latest updates and news.

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