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Getting to the State Library of Victoria by Public Transport (and What to Do When You're There)

Home > Melbourne > Art | Books and Writing | Free | Fun Things To Do | Libraries
by JP Kyle (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia. I have a blog on Tumblr where I write articles and review books
Published March 9th 2014
There are two ways of getting to the State Library of Victoria by public transport. The first way is getting off at Southern Cross Station, walking up to the Spencer Street/Burke Street junction, catching a tram up Burke Street until the tram stops at the junction between Burke Street and Swanston Street, then turning to the left and walking up Swanston Street until you arrive at Melbourne Central Plaza. The State Library is across the road.


The second way is catching a metro train going through the city loop and getting off at Melbourne Central. Personally, I prefer using the second way as it's easier and I don't like waiting for or using trams unless I have to.

However, I think the more important question isn't how to get to the State Library, but why get to the State Library? Unfortunately libraries have earned an unfair reputation as silent, boring places of oppression and solitude and that's simply not the case with the State Library (and the vast majority of municipality libraries).

The Splendid:

There's free activities such as indoor and outdoor chess.

The State Library of Victoria
Outdoor Chess


The State Library of Victoria
Indoor Chess

On sunny days, bean-bags and boxes of books are made available for reading.

The State Library of Victoria
Outdoor Reading

There's free access to computers for printing, copying and browsing the Internet. WiFi Internet for laptops is also available.


It's perfectly fine to talk and arrange study groups in the Information Center (Level 2 Ground) and The Redmond Barry Reading Room (Level 2A).

The State Library of Victoria
Information Centre - Level 2 Ground


The State Library of Victoria
Redmond Barry Reading Room - Level 2A


The State Library of Victoria
Redmond Barry Reading Room - Level 2A

There's plenty of stuff to check out like the Keith Murdoch Gallery (currently featuring the free exhibition of "Rome: Piranesi's vision"), The Cowen Gallery (featuring Australian landscape oil-paintings), experimedia, journals and magazines, newspapers, and genealogy.

The State Library of Victoria
Keith Murdoch Gallery - Rome: Piranesi's vision

The Not-So Splendid:

-The State Library isn't a lending library so you can't borrow items to take home. However, you can save newspaper articles to USB and take them home that way.

-You will need a library card to log into and use the library computers for Internet browsing, copying and printing. However, you can easily apply for a library card at the Information Desk, fill out an online form, or call them on 03 8664 7004 from Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm.

-You can't bring bags or back-packs into the library. You have to take what you need out of your bag, rent a small locker for $2 and store your stuff in there

-Personally, the ominous white marble busts in the Cowen Gallery creep me out a little. Then there's the fact that there's only one female bust available and the artist went to the extra trouble of adding nipples. I find this questionable.

The State Library of Victoria
Is it just me or is it cold in here?

My favourite place in the State Library is the La Trobe Reading Room.

The State Library of Victoria
The La Trobe Reading Room - Level 3


The State Library of Victoria
The La Trobe Reading Room - Level 3


The State Library of Victoria
The La Trobe Reading Room - Level 3


The State Library of Victoria
The La Trobe Reading Room - Level 3

It's a quiet reading room and unlike downstairs, I can often find space to set up my laptop and focus. It's an amazing place, so peaceful I've frequently found people asleep at the private study desks. There's also a section of brass plaques dedicated to those who contributed towards the building of the glass dome. One of the plaques on display has "I miss Bob" engraved into the metal. I find it intriguing.

So please visit the State Library of Victoria and your local municipal library, because while books are amazing and invaluable in themselves, there's so much more to discover.
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Why? To gain knowledge
When: Monday to Thursday: 10am–9pm Friday to Sunday: 10am–6pm
Phone: 03 8664 7004
Where: 328 Swanston St, Melbourne
Cost: Free
Your Comment
It is just a lovely place to spend time, I love to look down from the upper levels at the reading room. Nice article but I think you may mean 'Bourke St' in your directions>
by eagle (score: 1|55) 1773 days ago
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