01 December 2013

State Library of Victoria - More Than A Library

A library is not one of the places you would go when you are in the city of Melbourne. However I found the State Library of Victoria to be an exception when I want a quiet place to be on my own while waiting for friends or in-between meetings. The building itself is an icon of heritage architecture and that in itself is worth a look.

The State Library of Victoria is open seven days a week, excluding some public holidays. It is located at:
328 Swanston St,
Melbourne, Victoria
3000 Australia
Tel +61 3 8664 7000

Even before you enter the library building, the grassy lawn in front of the library's grand entrance on Swanston Street is a popular lunch-spot for the city's workers and students at the adjacent RMIT University. There are old and new statues along the side steps to the front entry of library that may interest you; Saint George and the Dragon, Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) and two sculptures from the Dromkeen Scholastic Collection of Children’s Book Art, installed 2012.

In the library you see students with their heads down, working with their laptops/tablets or within groups whisphering among themselves, working on their respective projects, reading or taking notes. The reading rooms are well lighted and surprisingly quiet and you can feel the spaciousness of the place.

While the library is frequent by students, there is always something happening at the library that would draw in a crowd. For example, free guided tours conducted by staff and volunteer guides, fun things to do that are suitable for the whole family – most of them are free and even a place to eat and drink. You can enjoy a light snack, delicious lunch or coffee and cake at the cafe, Mr Tulk. There is even a bookshop, located between Mr Tulk and the library foyer if you fancy a little shopping for a book or any of its exclusive range of stationery.

Libraries are generally about books, books and more books. But apart from the books, which there are said to be over a million, you will find that the history of the Library is evident in almost every room you go to – there are Victorian oddities, grand marble staircases, panes of stained glass and great bluestone walls. As you walk into the heritage reading rooms, like the dome shaped La Trobe Reading Room, you could not help but notice the grandness about the place.

The La Trobe Reading Room is surrounded by three floors where the Library houses their permanent exhibitions The Mirror of the World: Books and Ideas and The Changing Face of Victoria as well as a display from the Pictures Collection in the Cowen Gallery.

As a result of recent redevelopment work done, the State Library of Victoria can now be considered as one of the largest exhibiting libraries in the world.

This Library has a lot more going on than shelves of books. You can play chess, use game consoles, workshop projects with your friends, check out what's hanging in the galleries, watch films, listen to music, and browse newspapers and magazines.

Chess Area

Children Play Area

Arts Galleries

Permanent Exhibitions

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