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If you are a traveler who loves reading, the public library should make a spot in your itinerary! State Library Victoria is one of the best places to go in Melbourne City for you. Beautiful, artistic, and rich with history and knowledge, this place is a great low-cost way to spend a day in Melbourne.
History of State Library Victoria
The State Library of Victoria was built as a design competition result in 1853, held by the governor at that time, Charles La Trobe, and Redmond Barry, a colonial judge. The winner, architect Joseph Reed, created a building concept that combined a gallery, library, and museum.
The library was inaugurated on 11 February 1856, filled with 3,800 books personally curated by Redmond Barry. It was placed among the first few libraries in the modern world, open to anyone over 14 years old. The library has gone through several renovations, including the 2019 redevelopment, to accommodate growing visitors and more exhibitions.
Interesting Facts of the State Library Victoria
Out of the four million books it keeps, the State Library in Victoria has various precious historical manuscripts and collections. They include the folios of James Cook, diaries of John Pascoe Fawkner and John Batman (founders of Melbourne), and even the armor of the famous bushranger and bandit Ned Kelly.
The lawn in front of the library is a favorite place for a picnic and stroll. However, on Sunday, between 2:30 and 5:30 PM, it turns into a speaker’s corner. You will see orators making speeches about various topics, a celebration of free speech.
What Makes the State Library Victoria Famous?
Aside from its millions of books, manuscripts, photographs, and artworks, the State Library Victoria is famous for its beautiful reading rooms. Each is majestic and elegant, a perfect place to live up to your fantasy library dream. The most iconic one is the Dome with its octagonal space, while the Redmond Barry looks more modern and is used to store contemporary books.
If you love arts, you can visit the Arts Reading Rooms, which store huge collections of art-related books, recordings, periodicals, and other materials. Those interested in Victoria’s history can visit Newspaper and Family History Reading Rooms, which store microfilms, newspapers, biographies, and other vintage materials.
Things to Do and See
What else can you do at this wonderful library but read? This beautiful, majestic library holds around four million books, two million monographs and newspapers, and more than one million pictures. Reading rooms are open to the public during the opening hours, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM—a perfect way to spend the day browsing your favorite books of any genre in a beautiful place.
Do you know that the library also holds free guided tours? They are available almost daily during certain hours, so make sure you check the library’s official website to see the schedules. Each tour has a specific theme, so there is always something new for you to learn about!
As a state library, this place offers a lot of free events for the public. Storytime, curated exhibitions, games, online webinars—you name it! Visit anytime and come out with extra knowledge and insight.
When you need to re energize, head to the library’s two coffee shops: Mr. Tulk Café and Guild Café. They serve delicious coffee beverages straight from Australia’s coffee culture, from flat white and café latte to various frappes and simply a strong cup of espresso. They also serve breakfast, delicious pastries and cakes, and lunch.
The State Library of Victoria is close to numerous restaurants; many of them reflect Melbourne’s cultural diversity. Choose between local’s favorites like Zeus Greek Street Collingwood, Gyoza Gyoza, Mesa Verde, and Hakata Gensuke Yatai Ramen. Once tired, head to the nearest hotels within walking distance, like Brady Hotels, Space Hotel, Pullman Melbourne, and Grand Chancellor.
Do You Need to Book in Advance?
Not at all! The State Library of Victoria is proud of its status as one of the first free libraries in the world. Even as a non-member, you can visit anytime during the opening hours. Some areas are restricted and require an appointment, such as the space that holds the Heritage Collections and the StartSpace.