Your free what's on guide to the top end

A Territory Treasure

Situated in Parliament House, with ocean views across the Esplanade to Darwin Harbour, the relaxed environment of the Northern Territory Library (NTL) creates the perfect space to explore the numerous and rich corners of the library, peruse print and online resources, and to learn more about the Northern Territory through the large and varied Northern Territory Collection.

By Roslyn Perry

NTL has two main roles: to collect and share information that documents the history and culture of the NT; and to support and develop the wider library sector in the NT – especially the public library network. NTL provides particular support to the 32 public libraries across the NT, including many in remote communities. Public libraries develop community literacy and learning, provide access to the internet and other technology, build digital skills and act as safe and trusted community spaces — yep, they're pretty special!

Set over four floors, NTL has more than 250, 000 collection items, including books on Territory history, culture, photographs, newspapers, maps, films, organisational records, diaries and letters. Many of these items have been digitised and are available online from the NTL website where you can also find digital materials such as ebooks, digital photographs and online newspapers. 

One of things that makes NTL so special is its people. Staff are available at any time to provide extensive support to those interested in the past, present and future of the NT, making it the go-to place for researchers, students and family historians. NTL also operates a Parliamentary Library Service to support Members of the Legislative Assembly and their staff. NTL is always on the hunt for great new Territory stories through the literary awards and its growing events and exhibitions program. Free Wi-Fi and public access computer facilities are also available at NTL.

In very exciting news, and as a result of extensive community surveys, NTL is undertaking a change in opening hours and, from the end of May, will be closed on Mondays and open late on Wednesday nights.

To celebrate the change in opening hours, NTL has some special events commencing in June — check them out!

What was your path to the Northern Territory Library?

The Stuart Highway! I drove up from Victoria with a friend a couple of years ago – it’s the best road trip I’ve ever done – and as an added bonus I got to see some Territory libraries along the way. I was at the State Library of Victoria for a few years prior to coming to Darwin (in a range of roles) and before that at the Victorian Parliamentary Library. 

What attracted you to the Territory and the Northern Territory Library?

The combination of a great job and the desire to live and explore somewhere different. Australia looks very different from the Territory than it does in Melbourne. The role of Director at NTL was really a dream job. The work that NTL does covers many of the areas of library work that most interest me, including the documentation of the Northern Territory’s history and culture and fostering close relationships with public libraries across the NT. 

What can people expect when they visit the Northern Territory Library?

To learn something new about the Territory. Whether you’ve got a specific question or research task in mind, you’re interested in your family history, coming in as a student on a school visit, or you’re visiting for an event or exhibition, or to browse and relax – there’s always something interesting to discover. And as we continue to digitise our historical collections, there’s an increasing amount of information available to online visitors as well. 

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m still trying to improve my NT knowledge, so I’m wading through We of the Never Never and really enjoying Wings of the Kite Hawk by Nicholas Rothwell. I’m indulging my lifelong interest in rocks and paleontology through John McPhee’s Annals of the Former World, and have just started our next book club with Coffin Road. I like to have a few books on the go at any one time for a bit of variety. 

Do you have a favourite corner/section of the library?

I love our events area when we’ve got something on – looking out the windows over the harbour as the sun sets, with a crowd of people in the room. We’re particularly looking forward to opening up the balcony space for future events so people can enjoy the view and evening sunshine even more. And my little secret – whilst I love seeing libraries really busy, there’s also something special about a library at night – and one of the privileges in working in a library is the opportunity to soak up the silence when you’re the only one there. 

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