Tom Keneally Centre

The SMSA is proud to be the home of the Tom Keneally Centre.

Come and visit; it’s a perfect place to do some research or just enjoy some peace and quiet.

Everyone Welcome!

Opening Hours

Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays
from 10:30am – 2:30pm.

Tom Keneally Centre at Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Tom Keneally wearing a hat in the Tom Keneally Centre

Thomas Keneally - About the man

Booker Prize winner Thomas Keneally is one of Australia's best known and most respected authors.
Tom Keneally Centre

About the Tom Keneally Centre

The Tom Keneally Centre holds the research collection of world-renowned author Thomas Keneally, in addition to copies of his own works and some items from his private collection of photographs and memorabilia.
Frank Moorhouse (left) with Tom Keneally in the Tom Keneally Centre

Tom Keneally Centre - A Cultural Hub

A cultural hub, the Tom Keneally Centre is devoted to Australian literature and history, reflecting the synergy between the SMSA and Tom Keneally's approach to writing and to life; open access to knowledge, continued learning and social change.
Borrow from the Tom Keneally Centre

Borrow books from the Tom Keneally Centre

SMSA is pleased to announce that members can now borrow books from the Tom Keneally Centre collection, in addition to the main SMSA Library.

Events in the Tom Keneally Centre

Tom Keneally Centre, books and Tom Keneally

Tom Keneally Centre open day — Drop in!

Visit the Tom Keneally Centre, the living legacy of award-winning author Thomas Keneally, described by sydney(magazine) as one of the top 20 most peaceful places in Sydney.
Anne Whitehead Betsy & The Emperor

Anne Whitehead — Betsy and The Emperor (Hosted by Tom Keneally)

Join Tom Keneally and Anne Whitehead to discuss her new biography, Betsy and the Emperor, about Betsy Balcome, a woman who charmed Napoleon as a teen.

Catherine Bishop — Minding Her Own Business

In Minding Her Own Business, Catherine Bishop uncovers Sydney's colonial businesswomen. Many were married and, under the law, their businesses belonged to their husbands. How did this affect them?

Tom Keneally News

11 Sep 2015 — Members: Renew, Refer and WIN!

We know you love the SMSA, so why not spread the love AND go in the draw to win an iPad?
It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
Spread the word about SMSA
Your friends will be helping you WIN — and you’ll be introducing them to Sydney’s best fiction library with loads of benefits


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8 Sep 2015 — We Thank Our Volunteers on the Tom Keneally Centre’s 4th Anniversary

The Tom Keneally Centre recently celebrated its 4th anniversary (18th August) and SMSA Vice President Winsome Allen and Tom Keneally took the opportunity to present our dedicated SMSA Volunteers with a Certificate of Appreciation.

The TKC, as we lovingly call the Centre, holds Tom Keneally’s personal collection of books and memorabilia that he has donated to the SMSA and which form his living legacy to Australia. 

The volunteers report to the coordinator of the Tom Keneally Centre, Winsome Allan who is Chair of the Library Committee. Even before its official opening, our volunteers were working hard to catalogue and shelve the books ready for the TKC’s launch in 2011, and their work continues today cataloguing more books as they come in, labelling and covering books, managing the collection of archival materials, and much more as needed.  Some of our volunteers also assist in the SMSA Library on Level 2. 

“Our volunteers are vital to the Tom Keneally Centre”, said Winsome Allen, “We truly would not be able to do it without them, and so these certificates are a token of our sincere gratitude for their time and commitment over the last four years.”

The mission of the SMSA has always been to provide open access to learning, and Tom’s wishes align with our traditions. Far from being an ‘ivory tower’, the Tom Keneally Centre is open to everyone to visit and explore, and SMSA members can also borrow from its collection. The books on the shelves are each there for a reason. Either Tom has used  them to research information for one of his novels or non-fiction books — or they are books he has read and that have significance to him. Tom is currently in the process of writing an insert for each the books explaining why they each have a place in his library. This is an ongoing process for the volunteers.

Apart from their behind-the-scenes assistance, our team of volunteers also staff the Tom Keneally Centre on its open days, every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10:30am to 2:30pm. Be sure to drop in, say ‘Hi!’ and borrow a book!

Again, thank you to all our SMSA Volunteers:


Fran Barton, Ruth Briese, Judy Bolton, Val Davidson, Anne Devrell, Val Donovan, Di Isler, Shirley Hunt, Wendy Kaye, Kelvin Law, Carole O’Brien, Margaret Rapsey, Marlene Smith, Kay Templeton and Moya Williams.


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1 Jan 2015 — Have you renewed your Membership? Grace period ends 31 Jan

Have you renewed your membership?

  • All annual memberships expired at the end of 2014. 
  • A Grace Period is in place until 31 January 2015.

Act now and renew before the Grace Period ends on 31 January to ensure there are no gaps in your borrowing and membership rights.

Our rates remain the same and there are loads of membership benefits:

download the Membership Form*

* WEA Members: Download the WEA Library Services Form

Great Value!

$15 – Ordinary membership
$10 – Concession membership
$10 – Readers (students only – no voting rights)

How to join

Just come into the Library at Level 2, 280 Pitt Street with ID showing your current address to join and borrow immediately.


If you can’t make it into the Library, just get a JP to sign your form to verify your ID and address and mail your form in with a cheque. (NB: you can often find a JP at your local council, post office, police station, chemists or financial institution).

Memberships are annual and are due for renewal by 31 December each year.

Acceptable forms of ID are a driver’s licence, utility bill, electoral registration or concession card.