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Mortlock Library

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by Victoria Nicolitsi (subscribe)
Writer/Aspiring Editor.
Published December 14th 2011
The Harry Potter books and movies may be done and dusted, but all hope is not lost. While Harry lives strong in us all, there is a place where our Hogwarts fantasies can come true—because we all have them, even those who carry on and swear they hate the whole franchise. This breath taking—what-dreams-are-made-of—place, sits on Adelaide's North Terrace. It's the iconic Mortlock Wing of our State Library.

Mortlock Library
Mortlock Wing


Mortlock Library
Entrance from State Library


The Mortlock Wing was originally opened on 18 December 1884, after 18 years of construction, as a public library, museum, and art gallery, with 23,000 books and three staff. It underwent restoration in 1985, and most recently in 2004, allowing the public to access a much larger area of the library than previously allowed. Though the Second Gallery is still closed off, so access to the ladders which run along the length of the ceiling-high bookshelves are, most unfortunately, off limits.

The exhibition bays in the Mortlock Wing open a passage into the history and culture of South Australia, and demonstrate the affluence of the State Library's collections. They put a spotlight on people, places, issues and events that have contributed to our fabulous state's development. The themes of the exhibition bays include the history of the State Library, exploration, shipping, social and political reform, religion, communities, arts and culture, architecture, wine, sport, and children's literature.

The interior of this late Victorian library is considered one of the finest examples in Australia. Given it boasts a glass domed roof, which sparkles with natural light, and beautifully ornamented wrought iron balustrades along the balconies, this is apparent on your first step in the door.

Mortlock Library
First and Second Gallery


With desks nestled between bookshelves brimming with ancient tomes, and soft yellow light filling every nook and cranny, the Mortlock Wing provides the perfect ambience for study. If this isn't enough to get you excited, or at least motivated, about cramming for your mid term and end of year exams, I don't know that there's much hope for you.

Mortlock Library
Some of the books on display


Mortlock Library
First and Second Gallery


And as if it's not enough of a dream maker already, the Mortlock Library can also be hired out for weddings, formal dinners and cocktail parties. The Ground floor main chamber accommodates 300 standing or 200 seated, and the First Gallery—75 standing for pre-dinner drinks.

It's apparent that I'm fond of Harry Potter and any excuse to talk about him will do, but don't let that put you off the Mortlock Wing. It's wonderful and fascinating all in its own right, and provides the perfect excuse to go into town over the Christmas break and give your wallet a rest. If you're not a history buff, and don't even like books all that much, just go and marvel at the sheer expanse and beauty of it. You might end up being drawn into discovering a little bit about the totally cool and multicultural South Australia you didn't already know.

Mortlock Library
View from North Terrace


Now excuse me while I run off to the Mortlock Wing for a day dream, I'll catch you, open mouthed in awe, down one of the exhibition bays; arrivederci, auf wiedersehen, au revoir, err… avada kedavra?

Harry I love you—not you Daniel Radcliffe.
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Why? It's fabulous, full of books, and reminiscent of our beloved Hogwarts
When: Monday-Sunday and Public Holidays 10 am-5 pm, except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday
Where: Mortlock Wing of the State Library
Cost: Free Entry
Your Comment
Great piece Vic! Love the pictures too.
by vs (score: 0|3) 2166 days ago
Thanks! You should go check it out, and take all your Harry Potter books with you.
by Victoria Nicolitsi (score: 1|19) 2165 days ago
Spending time doing research at Mortlock, it makes you realise just how little of the true history and wonder of the past is available online. While I don't necessarily agree with the Hogwarts-like nature of the building, to me it harkens back to a time when reading was more important than surfing the Internet. I love the smell of the place especially.

Good review, and some great pictures in here.
by Retired Writer 185368 (score: 2|168) 1838 days ago
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