Among the State Library's over five million tomes are James Cook’s and Joseph Banks’ journals and William Bligh’s log from the mutinous Bounty. It's worth dropping in to peruse the elaborately sculpted bronze doors and grand atrium of the neoclassical Mitchell Wing (1910); note the beautiful map of Tasman’s journeys in the mosaic floor. The main reading room is an elegant temple of knowledge clad in milky marble. On this level and upstairs are some excellent new exhibition galleries highlighting the collection.
Highlights of the exhibitions include journals from passengers on the First Fleet (all of which are digitised on the library's website) as well as diaries of Australian soldiers in WWI. Six of the collections are on the Unesco Memory of the World register. Also worth poking your head into is the Shakespeare Room, with its ornate ceiling and facsimile of the second Folio (the library holds originals of the first four). A sculpture of the Bard and some of his characters stands marooned in the freeway island outside. Round the corner, on the Macquarie St side of the building, is a sculpture of explorer Matthew Flinders; look for his intrepid cat Trim on the windowsill behind. There's a decent cafe in the modern extension, named after the feline.