A century of professional learning: Teachers Federation Library Centenary 2022

Mary Schmidt guides us through the history of the Federation Library that this year celebrated its centenary. She shares with us her knowledge of the items in the Treasures collection held by our library . . .   


The Teachers Federation Library has a key role in supporting the work of the union. It has an established role in supporting the union’s campaigning on industrial and equity issues; the professional learning of members, and an emerging role in preserving the union’s cultural and heritage artefacts (NSW Teachers Federation, 2008, p. 51). 

How the library was founded is a fascinating story and involves generosity, the dedication of many, and sustained support from the union and its members. 

Origins of library 1890s 

The foundation collection of the library belonged to a school inspector with the NSW Department of Public Instruction, David Cooper. For more than a decade (1890-1901) he was a district inspector in Goulburn. (“Tragic Death of Mr. D.J. Cooper, M.A.,” 1909). Library folklore, handed down over the last century, is that he travelled by horse and buggy visiting schools in the Goulburn district and always had some volumes from his personal collection of literature, history and professional learning resources to lend to isolated teachers. 

David John Cooper 1848-1909, the founder of the Cooper Library. Australian Town and Country Journal Wednesday 17 November 1909, p. 53. 

David Cooper died suddenly while giving a speech at Fort Street School on November 12, 1909. He was 61 years of age (“Obituary: Sudden Death,” 1909). 

David John Cooper was very highly regarded. At the unveiling of a monument to his memory at Waverley Cemetery on 12 November 1910, exactly one year after his death, the Under-Secretary for Education Mr. Peter Board, praised the late Principal Senior Inspector’s achievements, particularly his organization of the technical education system in NSW and the founding of the teachers’ library (“The Late Mr. D. J. Cooper,” 1910).  

The Teachers Federation acquires Cooper Library  

In May 1910, the Public School Teachers’ Association of New South Wales accepted the offer of the Cooper collection, from the Western and North-western Inspectorial Associations, on condition that the library be called “The Cooper Library” (“A Teachers’ Library,” 1910; “Teachers Association,” 1910).  

The Public School Teachers’ Association of NSW was a founding Association of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation (Mitchell, 1975, p. 45). When the Teachers Federation was formed in 1918, the collection was transferred to the Federation. Consideration was given to the “installation of the Cooper Library, already the Federation property”, at a meeting of the Teachers’ Institute Sub-Committee in September 1920 (Berman, 1920, p. 296). 

At the time of the Sub-committee’s deliberations in 1920, the Cooper Library was at Sydney Girls’ High School. The library was open on Friday evenings for books to be borrowed (“The Cooper Library,” 1910) but in 1921, when that school relocated from the Castlereagh Street premises, to its current location in Moore Park “the Committee directed the removal of the Cooper Library therefrom to the Federation Office” (“Teachers’ Institute Committee: Report to Council,” 1921, p. 15). 

Official opening 1922

The Cooper Library, as the Teachers Federation Library was originally known, was officially opened on the 24 February 1922 at the Federation rooms (“A Pleasant Evening at the Cooper Library,” 1922),  

12 O’Connell Street, Sydney (“Cooper Library,” 1922).  

At the official opening, the chairman of the Library Committee, Mr. P. Bennett, presided in the unavoidable absence of Mr. Dash, the President. There were many distinguished guests. The Assistant Under-Secretary for Education Mr. Smith promoted the virtues of books and bookmen and pointed out that it was not sufficient for a good library to have books on the shelves to be looked at, they must be “well thumbed.” Mr. Inspector Finney echoed this sentiment stating that books “were nothing to him, but valuable only where they brought out and improved the mind and character of the individual who read them.” (“A Pleasant Evening at the Cooper Library”, 1922, p. 8). 

To add to the festivities, Fisher Library at the University of Sydney, loaned a number of exhibits, including facsimiles of the Book of Kells and the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.  

The late Mr Cooper was represented by two of his sons and a daughter, the last of whom declared the Library open (“A Pleasant Evening at the Cooper Library”, 1922, p. 8). 

Growth of the library

The collection of the Cooper Library transferred to the Teachers Federation numbered some 300 volumes (Taylor, 1922). The first accession register lists the titles transferred, principally, history, English literature, philosophy and education texts (N.S.W.P.S.T.F. Cooper Library Accession Book: 1 – 10,000, n.d.). 

The union applied considerable resources to get the books of the Cooper Library into the hands of teachers. From the beginning there were regular features in Education: The Official Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation listing the books and journals available from the library. The July and August 1922 issues published a list of the library’s holdings (“Author List of Books in the Cooper Library”, 1922, July 15; August 15). 

The Cooper Library rules and regulations for 1922 included provision for a postal service. Federation paid the outwards postage, with the return postage paid by the borrower. The loan period was 14 days for city-based members. Country members could request an additional 14 days. There was a fine of one penny a day for each day a book was overdue (Bennett, 1922).  

In August 1931, the Federation’s Executive made a special grant of £100 to build up a collection of Australiana. The collection numbered 6,000 volumes (Hancock, 1931). The move to O’Brien House, Young Street, Sydney, about October 1931, benefited the library, with new shelving and extras such as a clock and a carpet (Hastings, 1968). 

Cooper Library catalogue 1933

In 1933, the Federation published a printed catalogue of the books and journals held by the library (Taylor, 1933) some 7,000 titles. Members could purchase this catalogue for 2 shillings at the counter (“Library Catalogue,” 1934). 

“Federation has been forced to move five times owing to the growing pains of the Cooper Library,” claimed General Secretary Bill Hendry at the 1935 Annual Conference. The library had 8,420 books, (“Observations,” 1936, p. 102) having grown from 675 books in June 1922 (“Cooper Library: Report,” 1923). 

In 1936 the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia made a gift of £100 worth of books in recognition of teachers’ services with school banking. This support continued for many years, well into the 1970s (“Gift to Cooper Library,” 1936). In 1968 a special grant of $2,000.00 was made by the Bank to commemorate the Federation’s move to Sussex Street (Hastings, 1968). In later years, the books purchased with these funds had an elaborate book plate.  

Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia bookplate

1938 marked the completion of the Federation’s own building in Phillip Street, Sydney (“NSW Public School Teachers’ Federation,”1938, p. 7). The library was located at the rear portion of the 7th floor (“Federation House,” 1939). 

Folklore handed down by former library staff, is that in the Phillip Street building, there were separate reading rooms for men and women. Early plans for a Teachers Building published in Education in September 1920, includes “as an irreducible minimum by way of conveniences, a Reading Room and Library; a common room for women members with retiring room; a smoke room extended into a billiard room with retiring room” (presumably for men), which lends substance to this (Berman, 1920, p. 296). 

At the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation Annual Conference, held in December 1940, Miss Bocking of the Girls’ Mistresses Association, moved, and it was agreed to, that the name of the library be changed to Teachers’ Federation Library (“General Business,” 1941, p. 94), in recognition of its growth from small beginnings to become a significant part of the Federation’s activities (Hastings, 1968). 

The Teachers Federation moved to 300 Sussex Street, Sydney in 1967, with a spacious library on the 2nd floor (NSW Teachers’ Federation, 1967, p. 4). The library occupied two-thirds of the second floor, adjacent to a lounge and reading room area. The photographer Max Dupain photographed the occasion (“Federation House,” 1967).  

The New Library, photo by Max Dupain. Education: journal of the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation, 48 (20) 29 November 1967, page 167

In the thirty years before the Federation’s move to Sussex Street, the library’s book stock increased to over 23,000 volumes, writes Valmai Hastings, Librarian (Hastings, 1968). 

From the 1970s through to the mid-1980s the Promotion Reading List, advertised in the library column of the Federation’s journal, Education, and prepared by the library, was sought after by members. This publication listed texts which would assist members preparing for assessment for promotion.    

In the 1960s and 1970s through its postal service, and by acquiring relevant texts, the library supported members who were upgrading their teaching qualifications, by studying externally at university. (“Federation Library,” 1979). 

From the mid-1970s, the focus of the library gradually expanded to include support for the industrial and campaigning work of the union, as well as professional learning for members (Schmidt & Stanish, 2001; Fitzgerald, 2011, pp. 196-197; Doran, 2019, p. 280). 

The NSWTF headquarters moved to Mary Street, Surry Hills in December 1998 (NSW Teachers Federation, 1999, p. 11) and the library’s location in close proximity to the Federation’s Centre for Professional Learning assists the library in understanding member’s professional learning needs and in delivering relevant services. 

The library in 2022 has a stock of 14,500 physical items, mostly books (NSW Teachers Federation, 2022, p. 65). 


Several prominent librarians have held the position of Librarian at the NSW Teachers Federation. The position was hotly contested from the very start. Among the librarians are:  

A. Vernon Taylor, Librarian 1921-1933; 1935-1941

The Executive chose Mr. A. Vernon Taylor from Fisher Library, at the University of Sydney, as the first Librarian. Vernon Taylor was born on the Isle of Man and served as a Private in the A.I.F. in France during the First World War from 1916-1918. Under the A.I.F. Education Scheme, he attended a course in cataloguing at the Central Public Library, Portsmouth, prior to demobilisation. He was employed as a Librarian at Fisher Library, University of Sydney from 1920-1939 (University of Sydney, 2021). When the part-time appointment was announced at Council on 5 November 1921, some members opposed the appointment of an outsider (“Council Meeting,” 1921a, p. 18). The Assistants’ Association was disappointed that Mr. H.J. Munro, who had managed the collection in an honorary capacity for 8 years was overlooked by an applicant who was neither a Federation member nor a teacher (S.E.H., 1921). 

At the Council meeting of 3 December 1921, Mr. Bendeich, of the Assistants’ Association moved “that the appointment be reviewed, a month’s notice given, and fresh applications be called.” Following a “heated discussion” the motion was lost after the President, Mr. Dash, stated that Council had authorised the Library Committee to make the appointment (“Council Meeting,” 1921b, p. 27).  

The annual salary was £52, and initially Mr Taylor was required to attend each Friday from 7.30 pm until 9 pm and to undertake other duties as directed (“New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation,” 1921). By 1929, the Assistant Librarian, Miss Synnott attended all day until 5pm, and Mr Taylor, who was also employed at Fisher Library at the University of Sydney, attended the Cooper Library at 42 Bridge Street, every evening until 9 pm and on every Saturday morning (Acorn, 1929, p. 243). 

But Librarian Taylor’s troubles were not over. 

In 1933 Mr Taylor was given notice that his engagement with the Federation would be terminated (“N.S.W.P.S. Teachers’ Federation,” 1933, p. 36). 

There were protests from the Isolated Teachers’ Association, the Assistants’ Association, the Cookery Teachers’ Association, the Infants’ Mistresses Association, and the Women Assistant Teachers’ Association, to no avail. The General Secretary advised that the termination of Mr. Taylor’s engagement had been carefully considered by the Executive and Council and was part of the reorganisation of the Federation office. (“N.S.W.P.S. Teachers’ Federation,” 1933, p. 39). 

Wilma Radford (1912-2005), Librarian 1933-1935

From 56 applicants, the Executive and the President of the Library Committee chose Miss Wilma Radford, 21 years of age (a former university lecturer of mine) as the next Librarian at an annual salary of £200. She was employed from September 1933 (“N.S.W.P.S. Teachers’ Federation,” 1933, p. 36), and her resignation was accepted by the Council in April 1935 (“N.S.W. Teachers’ Federation: Council Meeting,” 1935, p. 227). 

Miss Radford had a distinguished career. One of her many achievements was in 1968 when she was appointed Professor of Librarianship at the University of NSW, the first chair of librarianship in Australia (Jones & Radford, 2005). 

Miss Wallace, the assistant librarian managed the library until Mr. Taylor’s reappointment (“Minutes of Executive Meeting,” 1935, p. 323). At the May 1935 Council meeting, it was moved by Mr. Murray, seconded by Miss Rose, and carried by 34 votes to 13 that the matter be referred back to Executive (who had endorsed the employment of another librarian), with a recommendation that Mr. Taylor be appointed (“Minutes of Adjourned Council Meeting,” 1935). 

Librarian A. Vernon Taylor retired on 30 June 1941, (New South Wales Teachers’ Federation,1941) and a great debt is owed to him for his organisation of, and dedication to, the library. 

Eric Richard (Dick) Edwards, Librarian 1941-1945

In 1937 the position of Assistant Librarian was advertised. The position was open only to male applicants 17-25 years of age. (“Positions Vacant,” 1937). Mr. Eric Richard (Dick) Edwards was appointed. (“Minutes of Council Meeting,” 1937, p. 432). From the pages of the Federation’s journal, Education, in which he is referred to as the Librarian from October 1941, it is apparent that he succeeded Mr. Taylor. He relinquished the Librarian position in October 1945, to setup in business (NSW Public School Teachers’ Federation, 1945, p. 20). 

With a friend, Rod Shaw, he established, while still at the Federation, Barn on the Hill Press in 1939. This was re-named Edwards & Shaw in 1945. Both a printery and publisher, Edwards & Shaw’s customers included publishers, universities, architects, designers, artists, art galleries, the NSW Teachers’ Federation, and the NSW Teachers’ Federation Health Society (Stein, 1996). In 1994, Dick Edwards was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the Australian printing and publishing industry.  

Dorothy Peake, Librarian 1954-1956

In the succeeding years a number of librarians were appointed, including Miss Dorothy Peake, who judging by the pages of Education, held the position for two years 1954-1956. Like Wilma Radford, she later became a prominent figure in Australian librarianship, becoming the foundation University Librarian of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and a pioneer in implementing automated systems and electronic networking of Australian Libraries (Maguire & Schmidmaier, 2015). 

Editor’s note: 

You will notice, at the end of this article, that Mary makes only a one sentence comment about her time as Federation Librarian. This is not enough acknowledgement for someone who has dedicated over forty years’ service to the Federation Library. 

Hence the addendum below (written by Graeme Smart, Federation’s Deputy Librarian):  

Mary Schmidt, Librarian 1975-present

Mary completed her Graduate Diploma in Librarianship at the University of NSW in 1973. After relatively short spells at the UNSW Law Library and Sydney Teachers College, she became Federation Librarian in 1975, succeeding Miss Valmai Hastings. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she already had a connection with the library; one of her lecturers in 1973 had been Professor Wilma Radford, the Federation Librarian 40 years earlier, between 1933 and 1935.  

Library staff numbers have varied over the years, but in Mary’s early years, she was supported by a library technician and two library assistants; since 2015, the staff has comprised a Librarian (Mary) and a Deputy Librarian. From the mid-1980s, when her children were born, until 1999, Mary job-shared the Librarian position, after which she resumed the role full time.  

Mary’s time at the Federation has coincided with the emergence of computer technology, which has transformed the storage and dissemination of information. Reflecting this change, the library has shifted its focus, becoming an information and research service in addition to performing its traditional role as a lender of books (NSW Teachers Federation, 1993, p. 77).  

Mary has responded to the rapidity of change in the provision of library services in the twenty-first century with indefatigable enthusiasm and thoughtfulness. She is always looking to improve the relevance and quality of the library collection and ensuring that the information needs of Federation Officers, members and staff are met in a timely and appropriate fashion. At the same time, she has never lost sight of the importance of the union’s history and has overseen the preservation of a great variety of artefacts (banners, posters, photographs, documents, etc). But these are not hidden away; many are digitised and can be viewed on the library catalogue, and some are always on display in the library. Their accessibility ensures that the union’s history lives. 

Although Mary would be the first to observe that the librarians, like the Federation itself, work in union, it cannot be denied that her own contribution to the Teachers Federation Library has been immeasurable – truly, a notable librarian. 


Teacher union libraries were established in other Australian states. 

1922 NSW Teachers Federation

It appears that the Cooper Library in 1922 was the first teacher union library established in Australia. If NSW was not the first, it was certainly a leader. 

1924 State School Teachers’ Union (Tasmania)

The Daily Telegraph (Launceston) on 31.10.1924, reported that at a meeting of the Executive of the State School Teachers Union, “It was decided to institute a circulating library which would be available to members throughout the state” (“School Teachers’ Union,” 1924). 

1929 South Australian Public Teachers’ Union

The Advertiser reported on 23 August 1929 that the “South Australian Public Teachers’ Union has established a fine library” and there are 500 volumes on the shelves (“Teachers’ Union Library,” 1929). 

1938 Queensland Teachers’ Union

The Queensland Teachers’ Union officially opened its library on 1 July 1938.  

Two officers from the Queensland Teachers’ Union visited the Teachers’ Federation Cooper Library in 1934 to assess its suitability as a model for a library for Queensland teachers. Their initial report back to the Queensland Teachers Union was that it was too expensive, particularly the postal service, but eventually in 1938 the Queensland Teachers Union did establish a library for members, which included a postal service (Spaull & Sullivan, 1989, p. 206). 


To commemorate the Federation Library’s centenary in February this year, a special Friday Forum, Treasures, was held (on Friday, 18 February 2022 at Teachers Federation House) in order to display many of the Federation’s precious cultural and heritage artefacts. Volunteer guides, drawn from Federation Officers and staff, assisted visitors to find their way and with interpreting the heritage artefacts. 

A growth area of the library’s work is the conservation, preservation and celebration of the union’s cultural and heritage artefacts. There are now nearly 600 Treasures, including badges, banners, medals, pictures, posters, objects and sculptures in the library’s Artworks Collection. 

Images of the Treasures may be viewed on the library catalogue, by selecting the Artworks button on the main menu. https://library.nswtf.org.au/libero/WebOpac.cls  

Historic posters
Heritage poster, Progress in public education demands federal finance. Sydney: NSWTF, 1965. Printed by Edwards and Shaw.   

The library has a collection of over 300 posters in the Artworks Collection, stored archivally in plan cabinets. As display is inherently damaging to fragile originals, fine art reproductions, made from digitised originals, are provided for display throughout Federation House at Mary Street, Surry Hills, and in regional offices. 

Historic banners

The library has a collection of over 30 historic NSW Teachers Federation banners. Rolled storage, on archival cylinders, is used to protect the larger banners. Smaller banners are stored flat in plan cabinets. 

For the NSW Teachers Federation centenary in 2018, 14 bannerettes, made of silk, were created to highlight the historic sectional Associations, that once comprised the Federation.  

Cookery Teachers bannerette

The NSW Public School Cookery Teachers Association, which predated the Federation, being founded in 1912, was very active. The Association produced several successful cookery and domestic science books for pupils in public schools and assisted with raising funds for the war effort, Red Cross and other charitable institutions. The teachers involved also provided food for invalids during the 1919 influenza pandemic (“N.S.W. Public School Cookery Teachers’ Association,” 1919). 

Historic volumes

The library has many historic volumes, and still has books from the original Cooper collection (N.S.W.P.S.T.F. Cooper Library Accession Book: 1-10,000, n.d.). Many of the older books are quite worn and were rebound to extend their life, which lessens their value in dollar terms and their intrinsic value as artefacts. However, the founders of the library could take satisfaction in that the books that were in their care are ‘well thumbed’ as they intended. 

The first book listed in the library’s accession register from the Cooper collection is a Primer of logic, by Emily Elizabeth Constance Jones, published London, 1905. The early librarians were thorough in their record keeping and this book is noted as missing in 1940, and not seen since.  

Helen Keller
Frontispiece portrait of Miss Keller and her teacher 1895.

However, the second book accessioned, The story of my life, by Helen Keller, published London, 1906, is still part of the library collection.  Born in Alabama in the United States of America, Helen Keller was deaf, blind and mute at an early age and overcame these adversities to become a special educator and authored a number of works. This book includes several quality black and white plates, photographs of her as a child, and later with Alexander Graham Bell and Mark Twain. The stamp of the Cooper Library is on the title page and the volume is notated ‘No. 2” inside the front cover (Keller, 1906).  

Maria Montessori

The library is fortunate to have several texts from the early 20th century by, and about, the work of Maria Montessori, a pioneer in the development of early childhood education. Her reforms are still instructive today and sought by Federation members. The Montessori principles and practice: A book for parents and teachers by E. P. Culverwell, 2nd edition, published London, in 1914, has many charming black and white plates featuring children, with captions such as “Putting the chair down quietly” (Culverwell, 1914, p. 225)

Sir Henry Parkes
Frontispiece portrait of Sir Henry Parkes

Of all the historic volumes held by the library one of the most appreciated is Fifty years in the making of Australian history by Sir Henry Parkes, five times Premier of NSW between 1872 and 1891. The book was published in London by Longmans, Green in 1892 (Parkes, 1892). 

This book is significant as it contains The Tenterfield Oration, seen as the first appeal to the public rather than politicians for a federation of Australian states. 

Also in this book, Henry Parkes outlines the struggles to achieve the passing of the Public Instruction Act of 1880 through the NSW Parliament, an Act which established the Department of Public Instruction, and made for compulsory education for children 6-14 years.  

Researchers and historians are aided by having an eBook version freely available from the University of Sydneyi minus the portraits, and a digital facsimile, with portraits, from the National Library of Australiaii  but there is something compelling and inspirational in having the original text. 

All of these texts are available for viewing in the library. 

TROVE partnership

The library works to preserve the union’s cultural heritage through the TROVE partnership with the National Library of Australia. In 2017, with the assistance of the State Library of NSW, the library commenced digitisation of the Federation’s publication, Education, which has been in publication since 1919. The archive from 1919 – 2019 is available on TROVE, the National Library of Australia’s platform for digital resources. This preserves this unique and fragile resource, brings it to an international audience, and makes accessible the rich history contained within its pages (Education, 1919-). 

Dash Archive
Illuminated address presented to Ebenezer Dash by NSW Public School Teachers Federation 1925

In 2019, five grandsons and one great-great-grandson of Ebenezer Dash, the Federation’s second President, donated a collection of photographs, illuminated addresses, letters, scrap books and other items that belonged to Ebenezer Dash. These items which date from 1892, are on permanent display in the Dash Archive in the library (Coomber, 2019). 

Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal

Queen Elizabeth II jubilee medal

In 2013, Susie Preston, the daughter of the Federation’s former President, Dr Eric Pearson, donated her father’s Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, awarded (posthumously) to Dr. Eric Pearson, in 1977, for service to the trade union movement. (Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, 1977) 

Federation members and members of the general public have shown trust in the Federation and the library to care for and appreciate their precious artefacts. Perhaps it’s not just the artefacts that comprise the Treasure, but also the trust transferred with them. 

Mary Schmidt has been the Federation’s Librarian since 1975. 

My thanks to Mr. Graeme Smart, the Federation’s Deputy Librarian, for extensive research support. 

i Parkes, H. (1892). Fifty years in the making of Australian history. Sydney: University of Sydney Library, Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service, 2000. Digital edition. https://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/ozlit/pdf/fed0024.pdf  

ii Parkes, H. (1892). Fifty years in the making of Australian history. Longman Green. National Library of Australia digitised item. Facsimile edition. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-3578896/view?partId=nla.obj-4109097#page/n58/mode/1up 

Find out more about the Cooper Library and the Teachers Federation Library in the library’s catalogue https://library.nswtf.org.au/libero/WebOpac.cls  

Acorn. (1929, May 15). Federation library. Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 10(7), 243-244. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-531758096/view?partId=nla.obj-531808477#page/n28/mode/1up

Author list of books in the Cooper Library [A-L]. (1922, July 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 3(9),25-27. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-572024841/view?partId=nla.obj-572063636#page/n26/mode/1up

Author list of books in the Cooper Library [L-Y]. (1922, August 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 3(10),30-31. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-572024864/view?partId=nla.obj-572070425#page/n39/mode/1up

Bennett, P. J. (1922, June 15). Cooper Library: Rules and regulations. Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 3(8), 6. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-572024829/view?partId=nla.obj-572056244#page/n7/mode/1up

Berman, F. (1920, September 15). Teachers’ Institute: Sub-committee’s progress report. Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 1(11), 294-296. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-530069878/view?partId=nla.obj-530115416#page/n23/mode/1up

Coomber, S. (2019, March 13). Dash of history to be preserved in library. Education. https://news.nswtf.org.au/blog/news/2019/03/dash-history-be-preserved-library

The Cooper Library. (1910, July 26). Sydney Morning Herald, 3. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/15166830#

Cooper Library. (1922, February 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 3(4), 9. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-572024745/view?partId=nla.obj-572040988#page/n10/mode/1up

Cooper Library: Report for year ending July 31st, 1923. (1923, September 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 4(11), 5. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-530314417/view?partId=nla.obj-530397916#page/n6/mode/1up

Council meeting. (1921a, November 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 3(1), 18-19. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-572024685/view?partId=nla.obj-572027679#page/n19/mode/1up

Council meeting. (1921b, December 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 3(2), 26-27. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-572024700/view?partId=nla.obj-572033432#page/n27/mode/1up

Culverwell, E. P. (1914). The Montessori principles and practice: A book for parents and teachers (2nd ed.). G. Bell & Sons.

Doran, S. (2019). On the voices: 100 years of women activists for public education. John Dixon [for NSW Teachers Federation].

Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation. (1919-). https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-525471579

Federation House: A two purpose building designed to accommodate club premises and commercial offices. (1939, March 1). Decoration and Glass: A Journal for Architects, Builders and Decorators, 4(10), 10-15. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-374111330/view?partId=nla.obj-374563077#page/n11/mode/1up

Federation House. (1967, November 29). Education: Journal of the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation, 48(20), 167. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-710434295/view?partId=nla.obj-710471049#page/n6/mode/1up

Federation Library: Services to members. (1979, February 14). Education: Journal of the NSW Teachers’ Federation, 60(2), 41. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-721805454/view?partId=nla.obj-721866279#page/n16/mode/1up

Fitzgerald, D. (2011). Teachers and their times: History and the Teachers Federation. University of New South Wales Press.

General business: Various matters debated during later hours of conference. (1941, January 28). Education: Official Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 22(3), 87-96. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-531917337/view?partId=nla.obj-531943712#page/n24/m   ode/1up

Gift to Cooper Library. (1936, August 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 17(10), 319. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-531758814/view?partId=nla.obj-531886953#page/n8/mode/1up

Hancock, H. S. (1931, September 15). Cooper Library. Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 12(11), 355. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-533182648/view?partId=nla.obj-533274908#page/n22/mode/1up

Hastings, V. (1968, December 4). Federation library. Education: Journal of the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation, 49(20), viii. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-717087475/view?partId=nla.obj-717129136#page/n10/mode/1up

Jones, D. J. & Radford, N. A. (2005). Radford, Wilma (1912-2005). Obituaries Australia. https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/radford-wilma-14113

Keller, H. (1906). The story of my life: With her letters (1887-1901) and a supplementary account of her education, including passages from the reports and letters of her teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan by John Albert Macy. Hodder & Stoughton.

The late Mr. D. J. Cooper: Memorial at Waverley. (1910, November 14). Sydney Morning Herald, 8. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/15207658#

Library catalogue. (1934, November 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 16(3), 25. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-530448660/view?partId=nla.obj-530521837#page/n26/mode/1up

Maguire, C. & Schmidmaier, D. (2015). Dorothy Peake 1930-2014: Inspirational librarian, visionary leader, artist. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 46(2), 135-137. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00048623.2015.1040149

Minutes of adjourned Council meeting, held at 9 a.m., Saturday, 25th May, in the Assembly Hall, Education Department. (1935, June 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 16(8), 269. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-530448802/view?partId=nla.obj-530561706#page/n38/mode/1up

Minutes of Council meeting, held in Science House, Gloucester Street, on Saturday, October 9, at 9 a. m. (1937, November 15). Education: Official Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 19(1), 432-434. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-534083414/view?partId=nla.obj-534108688#page/n33/mode/1up

Minutes of Executive meeting held in the Federation Club Rooms, O’Brien House, July 26, 1935. (1935, August 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 16(10), 323-326, 340-341. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-530448844/view?partId=nla.obj-530569891#page/n12/mode/1up

Mitchell, B. (1975). Teachers, education and politics: A history of organizations of public school teachers in New South Wales. University of Queensland Press.

New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation. (1921, September 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 2(11), 32. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-571297941/view?partId=nla.obj-571303404#page/n37/mode/1up

N.S.W. Public School Cookery Teachers’ Association. (1919, December 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 1(2), 42. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-530069699/view?partId=nla.obj-530077740#page/n19/mode/1up

NSW Public School Teachers’ Federation. (1938). Annual report and agenda paper.

NSW Public School Teachers’ Federation. (1941, June 7). Report of Library Investigation Committee to Council on Saturday 7th June 1941. NSW Teachers Federation Documents collection (No. 502), Sydney, NSW.

NSW Public School Teachers’ Federation. (1945). Annual report.

NSW Teachers’ Federation. (1967). Annual report.

NSW Teachers Federation. (1993). Annual report.

NSW Teachers’ Federation. (1999). Annual report.

NSW Teachers Federation. (2008). Annual report.

NSW Teachers Federation. (2022). Annual report.

N.S.W. Teachers’ Federation: Council meeting. (1935, May 6). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 16(7), 225-228. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-530448781/view?partId=nla.obj-530555014#page/n26/mode/1up

N.S.W.P.S. Teachers’ Federation: Executive report of 22nd and 25th September to Council, 6th Oct. (1933, December 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 15(2), 36-39. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-530447190/view?partId=nla.obj-acce530469353#page/n5/mode/1up

N.S.W.P.S.T.F. Cooper Library accession book: 1 – 10,000. (n.d.).

Obituary: Sudden death of Mr. D. J. Cooper, M. A. (1909, November 17). Australian Town and Country Journal, 79(2076), 53. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/263710468?searchTerm=%22sudden%20death%20of%20mr.%20d.%20j.%20cooper%22

Observations. (1936, January 29). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 17(3), 102-103. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-531758653/view?partId=nla.obj-531831190#page/n39/mode/1up

Parkes, H. (1892). Fifty years in the making of Australian history. Longmans, Green.

A pleasant evening at the Cooper Library. (1922, March 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 3(5), 8-9. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-572024768/view?partId=nla.obj-572044490#page/n9/mode/1up

Positions vacant. (1937, July 17) Daily Telegraph [Sydney], 14.


Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal. (1977). https://library.nswtf.org.au/libero/WebOpac.cls?VERSION=2&ACTION=DISPLAY&RSN=16462&DATA=TFB&TOKEN=keCm9WMJqv6304&Z=1&SET=1

Schmidt, M. & Carr, K. (2022). Library books its place in history. Education Quarterly: Journal of the New South Wales Teachers Federation, 2022(1), 30-31. https://news.nswtf.org.au/education/editions/education-quarterly-online?c=issue-1-2022-quarterly-magazine&page=30  

Schmidt, M., & Stanish, F. (2001, March). From horse and cart to heritage building. Incite: Magazine of the Australian Library and Information Association, 22(3), 18. https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/journals/inCiteALIA/2001/37.html#

School teachers’ union. (1924, October 31). The Daily Telegraph [Launceston], 4.


S.E.H. (1921, December 15). Assistants’ Association. Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 3(2), 12. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-572024700/view?partId=nla.obj-572031615#page/n13/mode/1up

Spaull, A. & Sullivan, M. (1989). A history of the Queensland Teachers Union. Allen & Unwin.

Stein, H. (1996). From the Barn on the Hill to Edwards & Shaw: 1939-1983: The story of two young men who built a master printery and publishing house that became a major influence on printing and book design in Australia. State Library of New south Wales Press.

Taylor, A. V. (1922, February 15). The Cooper Library. Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 3(4), 9. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-572024745/view?partId=nla.obj-572040988#page/n10/mode/1up

Taylor, A. V. (Compiler). (1933). A short title class list with an author & a subject index of the books in the Cooper Library. N.S.W. Public School Teachers’ Federation.

Teachers’ Association. (1910, May 18). Daily Telegraph [Sydney], 15. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/239402225

Teachers’ Institute Committee: Report to council. (1921, August 15). Education: The Organ of the New South Wales Public School Teachers’ Federation, 2(10), 14-15. https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-529384765/view?partId=nla.obj-529438509#page/n15/mode/1up

A teachers’ library. (1910, May 11). Daily Telegraph [Sydney], 12. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/239397125

Teachers’ union library. (1929, August 23). The Advertiser, 19. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/29616046?searchTerm=%22teachers%20union%20library%22

Tragic death of Mr. D. J. Cooper, M.A. (1909, November 13). Sydney Morning Herald, 10. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/15110704?browse=ndp%3Abrowse%2Ftitle%2FS%2Ftitle%2F35%2F1909%2F11%2F13%2Fpage%2F1306473%2Farticle%2F15110704

The University of Sydney. (2021, March 2). Beyond 1914: The University of Sydney and the Great War. https://heuristplus.sydney.edu.au/heurist/?db=ExpertNation&ll=Beyond1914


In 2007 the Executive of the Federation confirmed the library’s role in supporting the work of the Federation, assisting in recruitment of new members, supporting the professional development needs of members, and conserving and preserving the cultural and heritage artefacts of the union (NSW Teachers Federation, 2008, p. 51).

Online catalogue

Since 2013 the library’s Web based Libero catalogue has enabled members anywhere to discover the library’s resources and make a request online for resources to be posted to them. In a way this is nothing new. In 1933, the library’s catalogue was made available to members throughout the state in printed form. Using current technology, the catalogue is delivered to members online, the commitment to member professional learning continues.

Postal service

Members can have resources posted to them at no cost.  If members need assistance with returning resources to the library, pre-paid mail satchels are provided for returning borrowed items.

Recommendations for purchase

Members can also make recommendations for purchase of new resources, not held by the library. Professional learning resources are expensive, and this service, where members can access the resources they need, without any cost to them, offers great support for members’ professional learning.

Hot Topics

Members can discover the library’s resources through the online Libero catalogue. Another convenient way for members to discover the library’s resources is by using the library’s Hot Topics guides. These short guides, lead members to the most popular and up-to-date resources on professional learning themes. The library currently maintains nearly 90 Hot Topics, which are available to members both online and in print form.


After refurbishment of the 1st floor in 2017 the library is now situated in close proximity to colleagues from the Centre for Professional Learning (CPL) which provides for a synergy between library and professional learning activities. Hot Topics on relevant themes and class sets of resources are provided to support members attending Centre for Professional Learning courses.

The library works closely with the Aboriginal Education Coordinator, the Women’s Coordinator, the Multicultural Officer, and the Trade Union Training Officer to develop collections of relevant resources and focused Hot Topics guides to support members attending their training programs and events.

Library tours and briefings on library services, are provided to members participating in training, targeted to their interests. This also provides the library with the opportunity to meet and interact with active Federation members and learn directly about their interests and information needs.

Support for Councilors

The library provides a specific service for Councilors attending the Federation’s Saturday Council meetings. The library is open, and a Library Bulletin of new resources is distributed to delegates. Many delegates are from country areas, distant from any library. Access to the library for professional reasons, for Federation business, or recreation, is a valuable opportunity.

Library facilities

Members may visit the library for relaxation or study. A comfortable lounge area is provided, as well as computers, WiFi and study areas. Members may book the library meeting room at no cost.

The library premises are open to members throughout the year, including during vacations. The library opens from 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday. The library also opens on the Saturdays when the Federation Council meets, from 9 am – 1.30 pm.

Mary Schmidt is the Federation’s librarian.

Mary completed a Bachelor of arts Degree at the University of Queensland in 1972, followed by a Graduate Diploma of Librarianship at the University of NSW in 1973.

Having worked in the University of NSW Law Library while a student, and after graduation at Sydney Teachers College, Mary commenced work at the NSW Teachers Federation in 1975, International Women’s Year, an inspiring time to begin work with one of Australia’s leading trade unions.

Highlights include: the expansion of the library’s services to include support for the union’s industrial and campaigning work, as well as providing professional learning resources for members; the publication of the library’s online catalogue in 2013; digitisation of the Federation’s journal, Education, in partnership with the National Library of Australia, for the Federation’s centenary in 2018.  Currently, the archive from 1919-2019 is available on TROVE.