Reimagining the stories of Western Australia

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Culture and the Arts Minister John Day acknowledged the work of the State Library and its many supporters in marking the 60th anniversary of the State’s oldest and most significant collection of heritage documents.

Sixty years after the State’s Public Library was renamed the State Library of Western Australia and a new section devoted to West Australian materials was named the J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History, the Library is now a vital source of primary materials for researchers, family historians, students and anyone interested in WA.

Amanda Curtin, author of Elemental, shortlisted in the 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards, said the Battye Library was a source of inspiration for her and many others researching for both fiction and non-fiction writing. 

Minister John Day recognised the milestone by launching a pocket publication for tourists and visitors that features some of the treasures in the J.S. Battye Library of West Australian History and announcing the State Library’s 2017 calendar of events.

“The State Library benefits all Western Australians through treasuring the stories of WA. This free pocket publication of treasured items together with a vibrant calendar of events helps us connect with our past and build our documentary, visual and oral heritage for future generations’, the Minister said.

The pocket publication reflected some of the images that are also on display in a 27m long window decal installed on the ground floor widows of the State Library.

In 2017, the State Library will challenge Western Australians to re-imagine their story by exploring and discovering their heritage through the collections in the J.S. Battye Library of West Australian History.

Fact File:

Extra information: J S Battye Library of West Australian History

The Battye Library was named to honour Dr James Sykes Battye who commenced duty as Librarian in 1894 and who died aged 83 having been in charge of the Library for 60 years. Dr Battye was instrumental in the collection of West Australian heritage materials.

The adjective West in the Battye Library’s name was deliberately chosen instead of Western to indicate that the focus of the collections went further back than 1829, when Western Australia officially came into existence.

The Battye Library collections include: 108,000 book titles; 1,000 newspaper titles; 25,000 magazine titles; 34,000 maps and over 100,000 pieces of ephemera. Archival collections include: 4,200 metres of private archives (the records of clubs, associations, businesses, churches and individuals); over 700,000 pictorial images; over 7,500 oral history interviews (comprising nearly 17,000 hours of tape); and over 12,000 films, videos and DVDs. These collections are a primary source for any information relating to Western Australia, whether historical or current.


Minister’s office - 6552 6200


Last updated on: 19 December 2016