The Reading Room was named in honour of Leah Jane Cohen and her generous bequest to the Library Board.
A love of art and music inspired Leah to leave a significant bequest to the arts in Western Australia. The State Library of Western Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery and the School of Music at the University of Western Australia shared equally in her bequest.
The bequest was given to support the preservation and conservation of rare items within the Library’s collections, the purchase of equipment to support the conservation work and the publication of items relating to Western Australia’s cultural heritage.
Born in Leonora on 8 February 1913, Leah Jane Cohen was the youngest of three children of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia. She attended Perth Modern School before going on to study at the University of Western Australia, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1934 and a Bachelor of Law degree in 1937. She was one of the first 10 women in Western Australia to study law.
Leah Jane Cohen died on 30 October 2005.