Nov 042014


Local library an Asset – The Gosford Times – Thursday 18 January 1934 5

December 1878“The Local School Board granted the use of the Public schoolhouse, after  school hours, for a reading-room ; the Government have, how- ever, been moved for a grant of land on which to erect a building.”…. “There are thirty-eight members on the roll. The library consists of 200 volumes, principally the gifts of Mrs. Nunn, Mrs. Ed. Reeve, Thomas C. Battley, Irvine Coulter, and Rev. A. C. Thomas.1

1930s – The first Library in the Shire was a private one at Patonga. 2

1950 – books were lent to Gosford Library at Patonga from the State Library.

1948 – Woy Woy Library opened 12 August. Gosford Library opened 16 August. When the library opened, the first reader’s card was issued to one of the committee members, Miss Bennett. The second was taken by Mr Staples, and the third by Mr Parks. During the first few days of operation, several hundred readers enrolled.

18th January 1934 – The Gosford Times runs an article LOCAL LIBRARY AN ASSET on the front page of the paper. The article read…”Gosford has its School of Arts library. What it lacks, say the committee, is the interest of the citizens. Negotiations were recently opened with a large Sydney library for the free use of all the latest books, but for lack of interest by Gosford residents the plan collapsed.”

November 1950 – 5947 Readers (4033 adults and 1914 children) registered at Gosford Library. 3

April 1951 – An appeal for books resulted in 3565 books being donated. 4 Gosford District Citrus Festival Committee decided to raise funds for the purchase of a Bookmobile for Gosford Shire Library.

1955 – Bookmobile Service was introduced. Max Moore was the driver and he worked for 38 years finally retiring in 1983.  Volunteers were a great help.

January 17 196() – the Chief Librarian was Barry Price who succeeded Mrs Cox of Wamberal who spent 15 years as Chief Librarian.

1969 – Gosford Shire LIbrary built – 118 Donnison Street.  This was the first major building project undertaken by Gosford Council and it excited much controversy at the time being scathingly referred to as the “Opera House of Gosford”, At that time stock was one book per head of population of 48,000. Staff of ten and almost 10,000 borrowers for 400,000 loans.

It was designed by Architects Alan Williams & Associates, Sydney; Built by A.W. Edwards P/L, Sydney and the Consulting Engineers were Ove Arup & Partners, Sydney.
It was featured on the cover of “Wood World, May 1970, Vol 3 Number 4 and the article stated: ‘An impressive crafting of timber structural and decorative elements in a friendly and efficient community building.

While the new Gosford Shire Library admirably serves the adult reader, one of the most charming aspects of the building is its excellent facility for younger readers.

Interior view of the new Gosford Library building (1970) 6

The  children’s library is a cosy attic which could have belonged to Peter Pan and Wendy.  Since the library has been open it is obvious that this design is a huge success with children.

Structurally the building is of reinforced concrete frame and precast concrete.  Concrete columns and beams exposed internally were formed with sawn Dangas fir boarding to give a softer finish to blend with the extensive timber treatments. The columns and beams support a roof of exposed laminated timber beams.  The architect believes that the building revives a traditional appreciation of the quality of timber and craftsmanship with timber.  A minimum variety of materials has been used; concrete, Tasmanian Oak lining, western red cedar ceiling boarding and hardwood timber laminated beams.  In three levels the library has a basement, a main floor (adult library) and the mezzanine which houses the children’s library.

The external building form is reminiscent of a traditional Australian homestead with extended eaves supported by the projecting laminated timber beams.  Windows fit between U shaped striated concrete panels into which fit bookshelves on the inside.  Eaves lining is western red cedar which continues from the interior.  All timbers are oil finished. Some fine detailing of timber is evident.  The architect wished to create a ‘SNUG’ feeling with soft materials and avoid the institutional atmosphere of some of the older libraries.

The success of the building design and use of materials is verified by the popularity of the library.  It is a busy community centre.

It also featured in Australian Architectural Magazines.

1973 – The branch library at Woy Woy acquired additional space and in 1975 a small Bookmobile was added to supplement the existing bookmobile and in 1979 a computerised system was introduced.  In June 1982 the population was 100,000.

1982 –  In Sentimental Journey 9th September 1987, J.H. Parkes a former Shire President wrote in 1985 That the Gosford Public Library was the first in (1982) NSW, to offer access to information using a computer to search enormous data banks in Australia and California.

June 1983 – Umina Branch Library – cost $440,000.
There was a proposal to build a library next to the Lisarow High School in 1983, but was never built.

Gosford Library at 54 Mann Street under construction (1951), Located between the old Royal Hotel (left) and the Art-Deco inspired Council chambers (right). 7

1980 – Kibble park opened.

1981 – Renovations were undertaken at Gosford and Woy Woy.

1986 – Colin Bain became Library Services Manager.
Two new replacement Bookmobiles and a van for Home deliveries were purchased in 1986.
Mobile services lent 143,644 books in 1986.
Judy Chestnut was the Local Studies Librarian in 1986.

July 1987 – Bookstock at 181,759. Loans totalled 460 963, Loans over a whole year are close to 1 million.
Ron Saunders was the Librarian.

1993 – Jill Baxter was Local Studies Librarian.

Gosford Library at time of opening at 54 Mann Street (December 1951) 8

Miss Jean Edwards helps a young customer at Gosford Library (December 1951) 9

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Gosford library -33.426887, 151.342839 Gosford Library


  1. The Sydney Morning Herald. Saturday 21 December 1878
  2. Citation required as the School of Arts was being utilised from Dec 1878
  3. The Gosford Times. 10 November 1950. Trove
  4. Book Donations To Library Now Total 3565 – Trove: National Library Australia
  5. Local library an Asset – The Gosford Times – Thursday 18 January 1934. Trove
  6. State Library of NSW Public Library Services
  7. Flickr: Gostalgia: local history from Gosford Library
  8. Flickr: Gostalgia: local history from Gosford Library
  9. Flickr: Gostalgia: local history from Gosford Library

  5 Responses to “Gosford Library”

  1. An open letter to all Councillors about the proposed breakup of community title on Kibble Park land:

    You may care to read how in 1969 Councillors and the Town Clerk acted with integrity and civic purpose when a development company tried to resume Kibble Park for private gain. There is no such integrity and transparency in the motion Council passed last week to convert some title on Kibble park for an as yet unspecified future purpose

    At two points in our history The Mayor and Councillors have tried to provide for the establishment of private buildings on Kibble Park and have been defeated by the community rising up to protect the entirety of this green lung and tranquil oasis in the heart of the city.
    We do not want or need another assault on community space.

    Council told the residents it could not afford to convert the title to Springfield Quarry to properly represent the intended future use with its purchase by COS funds, as conversion was too costly. Now there is talk of establishing a Hockey Field in land acquired by COS money!

    In direct contradiction you have now, lacking all transparency of purpose, voted to convert the title of 3 sections of land on Kibble Park ” just in case”. Consistency and transparency , and ethics , dictate you abandon this proposal, and heed community opinion. Do not alienate the best part of the CBD, an intact Town Square set aside for community recreation.

    To do otherwise leads to suspicion about your real purposes and your willingness again to alienate your electors and again act against their well- being by preparing to discharge community assets. ( especially in a covert two-step way!) Surely the lesson of Creightons has been salutary!

    There is no need to retitle or rezone any of this land , except for an intention to act against its current community purpose as an intact community facility. Why creat public opposition by the destruction of community heritage? Council should take responsibility for maintaining the library and restaurant buildings at Council expense for community benefit, and retain control of Kibble Park as an entity, not act to ease the way for privatising public utilities . Unlike other Councils , you run no museums, yet you are quick to support sporting facilities. The community needs both! Congratulations Crs Scott, Bocking and Morris for recognising this!

    Why should the community community have to fight our elected reps to have you act in our interests? Please reconsider and rescind your covert motion.

  2. Gosford Council acts with integrity in 1969 : taken from Council minutes – above refers


    You may care to read how in 1969 Councillors and the Town Clerk acted with integrity and civic purpose when a development company tried to resume Kibble Park for private gain. There is no such integrity and transparency in the motion Council passed last week to convert some title on Kibble park for an as yet unspecified future purpose

    Insert 1969 document here please

  3. James Kibble was born in Victoria in 1858. He married Catherine Archer there and they came to Gosford in 1886.

    They set up a blacksmithy business (making horseshoes, etc.) in 1887. In 1900 they build a new smithy on the corner of Mann Street and Donnison Street, opposite the Union Hotel.

    They converted an old hall behind their smithy into a house. It stood where the Gosford Library is today, at the southern side of Kibble Park.

    Spikebot Blog. By Spike Anderson. Source:

  4. The first Landowner of the land on whick Kibble Park sits was Robert Creighton Snr .

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