Library History

The first public library in Alice Springs (named the Alice Springs Public Library) was officially opened on Monday, October 12, 1953 in Todd Street. The library was first stocked by a load of books from Darwin on a fire truck. The Library was very small and only required two staff members, Miss Joy Brucek and Mrs. Georgie Graves. In 1958 the Library moved from Todd Street to Hartley Street, where it remained until it came under the jurisdiction of the Alice Springs Town Council (previously it was administered by the Northern Territory Government). A new library building was erected next to the new Civic Centre, and the name was officially changed to the Nevil Shute Memorial Library (although it is still popularly known as the Alice Springs Public Library).

The new library building

Construction of the current library took place between 1979-1980 with the official opening of the building on October 19, 1980, the Mayor of Alice Springs, George Smith, defended the decision to name the library after Nevil Shute, rather than a local identity. “The sort of public relations that this man handed out, just because he was in love with the spirit of Alice Springs, could not have been bought”, he said.

Mayor George Smith and
Head Librarian Jan Alcorn

Today, the Library is still in the same building on the corner of Gregory and Leichhardt Terraces, although extensions were added in 1995. The new section houses the Alice Springs Collection, which contains a collection of Nevil Shute works, vertical files on most subjects that deal with central Australia, Aboriginal histories and maps. Today the circulating collection is about 40,000 books, DVD's, journals, spoken word recordings and music.