History of the Library

The Wollongong University College Library in 1962

The University of Wollongong Library dates to the early days of higher education in the Illawarra.  

It was called the Wollongong University College Library and was founded in 1962, operating out of the administration building.  

Back then, our Library had a modest collection of 6000 volumes which was largely aligned with science and engineering.

A new Library opens in 1972

The Library operated under the remote management of UNSW and was colloquially known as “The Bunker”. 

Students held regular protests during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s for improved funding for the Library and better access to resources.  

They were successful, and the new Library building was officially opened in 1972. 

Black and white photograph of the Library building and the duck pond lawn in 1980

Autonomy and amalgamation to become UOW Library

The University of Wollongong won autonomy from the UNSW in 1975 and shortly after, Stage Two construction of the Library was completed and officially opened by Sir Roden Cutler in 1976.  

With this, our Library was large enough to accommodate all collections and services under one roof.

The University of Wollongong and Wollongong Institute of Education amalgamated in the early 1980s, and these libraries were the first to merge and operate as a single service. 

The Michael Birt Library

In 1981, the Library building was named to recognise the founding Vice-Chancellor, Michael Birt. 

Further renovations in 1988 extended the Library to the west, which meant significant structural changes to the building itself and the reorganisation of our collections.

Our first computers in 1978

We appointed an automation librarian and a computerisation programme began in 1975. By 1978, we had two computer terminals installed. Online access to information began in 1984 and desktop PCs began to appear. 

Our website was developed in 1996 and remote access to information resources for students and staff of the University was enabled soon after. 

Black and white photograph of two students at a computer terminal in the 1970s

Regional and international Library campuses

The UOW Library presence extended internationally with the establishment of the University of Wollongong in Dubai in 1993. 

In 2000, our Library expanded to include the new Shoalhaven Campus, followed by locations at Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, the Southern Highlands, and Sutherland, as well as the Sydney CBD campus.

Stage Four renovations for a growing student population

Our Library building remained untouched for almost 20 years until an extensive building renovation began in late 2006 and was completed in 2008 to accommodate the 20,000 students on campus at the time. 

Alongside our traditionally quiet Library spaces, alternative study areas were added to support future learning styles.

UOW Student Makerspace and further refurbishments

Our latest Library renovations included the addition of the UOW Student Makerspace and the refurbishment of the Ground Floor, completed in 2018. 

A new colour scheme, new seating, and informal study spaces inspire a positive and creative environment that serves the heart of the campus.