In the Western Herald of December 10, 1948 it was reported that the Council (Darling Shire) voted to adopt the Library Act of 1939 and take over the management of the local public Library. There had been library services of a kind in Bourke for many years.
In 1872 there were reports of the Mechanics' Institute in Bourke operating a reading room and lending library. This was rejuvenated in 1929 as a Literary Institute but it failed to generate long term support and closed again at the end of 1931 (or 1935). The books were sold to Council as foundation for a Municipal Library. A Library service was re-established in 1939 and run by a local committee. In 1948 the committee proposed that the Council adopt the Library Act and take control of the Library. In 1948 there were 45 members and the Library was open 7 to 8 pm on mail nights and it had only a small bookstock.
By 1965 (November) the Library had moved to its present location and was being well used by the local community. It was open 11 1/2 hours per week. In 1984 it saw further extensions completed and then in 1994 the Library went online with the automated management system (URiCA 2000). Other technological advances have seen the range of services continue to extend, including for example, the internet, CD-ROMs and other computer related items.
The celebration of our 50th Birthday/Anniversary was held at 10:30am on Monday 14th December 1998. A display highlighting some of the history was on show. The present-day Councillors of the Bourke Shire Council, Council Staff and members of the public were there to join in the celebrations. Although we don't know what the library of 2048 will be like we would hope, as they did in 1948, that it would "have a future before it... be attractive and useful for the people of Bourke and District" and provide all the "undoubted advantages to Bourke of...an excellent...library - both educational and recreational", for information and inspiration.
In 1999, the library technology was completely upgraded. A new automated system was installed, the Libero library system, and an additional 2 computers were made available for public internet access, giving a total of 3 public access points.
The library of 2002 has 17,900 items with over 2000 members (Shire pop. 4049), and is open 42 hours per week. It averages 500 visitors per week.
Recently, the library has changed location, moving to 46 Mitchell St. The new building has an excellent atmosphere for both staff and customers. Glass walls on two sides provide natural lighting, and ample space for display.
Compiled by Beth Thomas in December 1998, from the "Western Herald" and the 13 volumes of "The History of Bourke" (ed. by W.J. Cameron). Updated by Jodi Walker, 2003.