Early in 1883 John Wren wrote to Canterbury Council suggesting advantage be taken of a clause in the 1867 Municipalities Act which
"gave local authorities the right to levy rates to establish and maintain free public libraries; and offered a government subsidy of 200 pounds a year for this purpose".
On 18 April 1883, a resolution was carried to take steps to form a free library and, during November Council submitted to government the by-laws together with a list of proposed books. During December 1884, the government responded with a grant of 200 pounds, and tenders were called from persons willing to act as Librarian.
At first the library was housed in Council Chambers then located in the Town Hall at 322 Canterbury Road, Canterbury (taking the entire block between Canton and Howard Streets, Canterbury). The library functioned for a good many years from this building. Although it was a free public library, it is believed the collection was for use in the library only and could not be borrowed.
157 Beamish Street, Campsie
In June 1945, a report was presented by the Town Clerk with the purpose of setting up the present library service. In 1946, Canterbury Council adopted the Library Act pledging to provide free library services. Applications for the position of Chief Librarian and the necessary staff were called and Miss Nancy Wood was appointed Chief Librarian on 25 November, 1946. Her first report to Council, dated 5 December 1946 stated 2,188 pounds worth of books had been purchased.
On 16 December, 1946 Canterbury Municipal Library (now the City of Canterbury Library and known as Campsie Library) opened at 157 Beamish Street, Campsie. It was a long, narrow, shop front building with a partition across the back to make a workroom for staff.
Campsie Library was always the main Central Library and when it opened there were 1,302 books on the shelves. Nancy Wood described the opening:
"when Campsie Library was opened... there was no fanfare of trumpets and no speechmaking. The initial collection of about 1,200 books was too small to advertise amongst 100,000 people".
The library service continued to operate from this building, which was formerly a printery and storehouse, until 1958 when it was moved to a new building.
139 Beamish Street, Campsie
The new library that was located at 139 Beamish Street, Campsie was constructed during 1958 and was officially opened by the Mayor, Alderman R.J. Schofield on 26 September, 1958. The building was purpose built and cost 35,000 pounds.
The library operated from this building for 28 years. In the mid 1980's it was considered to have completely outgrown the community's demands. Council agreed to provide a new building with facilities to ensure and encourage maximum use and benefit to the community.
14 - 28 Amy Street, Campsie
At 12 noon on the 15 November, 1986 Campsie Library ceased operating from 139 Beamish Street to begin the moving the collection to the new refurbished premises in the ground floor of the Campsie Centre, 14-28 Amy Street, Campsie. The new premises was officially opened by Professor Manning Clark on 13 December 1986. This ceremony coincided with the 40th anniversary of modern library services in the City of Canterbury.
The Library was refurbished in 2016.