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State Library of Victoria

Home > Melbourne > Historic Houses | Galleries | Free | Exhibitions
Published March 9th 2011

All fellow book lovers and dedicated students know the importance - and the allure - of a good library.

The muffled sounds of hard work and homework. The sweet respite gained from noisy families and a noisy world. The shelves and shelves of books, covering everything from feminism to futurism to furniture. A small, wondrous corner of human knowledge, ready to be hungrily devoured, and all for free. Oh, and the different sections! The foreign language newspapers, the reference books, the reading chairs. The thought alone is enough to make this nerd sigh with unadulterated bliss.

And as great - in their way- as the local libraries are, nothing beats the mammoth State Library of Victoria. An oft-overlooked landmark and Melbourne's largest public reference library, the SLV is a reason unto itself to visit the city. Aesthetically, it is striking, the entrance guarded by immense pillars, the interior a mixture of classical and modern architecture. Quotes from famous thinkers, all lovers of books, adorn the walls. There are spiral staircases, charming paintings and beautiful heritage reading rooms. It is everything that a library should be.

Though the home of many a 'hobo' at night, the front lawn is a popular meeting or lunch spot during the day. Located right next to RMIT University and Melbourne Central Station, each day students and the public alike flock to this lively area (unfortunately, so too do those hoping to collect petition signatures , charity donations and survey answers.) Overall, it really is a lovely atmosphere to go and have a picnic, play a little guitar, or read a book.

Here, there is something for everyone. A peaceful haven for frantic students; study facilities for the disabled; an extensive genealogy section for those passionate about their ancestry; multitudes of books on law and poetry and modern history. A significant collection of rare manuscripts. A chess room!

Perhaps most attractive about this place is that it is a library, museum and gallery wrapped up into one. Exhibitions, both Australian and international, are frequently hosted: 'Naked Democracy,' 'The Medieval Imagination,' and 'Sport and War,' to name just a few. In upcoming exhibitions: from Friday the 11th March until Sunday the 28th August, originals of renowned artist Graeme Base will be displayed. The library's website urges us to "rediscover the fabulous illustrations from 'The Waterhole' in this display of the original artwork."

Created in 1854 by Sir Redmund Barry, the library is getting on in years; however, the original values survive. This centre of culture and learning is perhaps best summarised by its 2003 creed, based on the ideology of Sir Barry: "Information. Ideas. Inspiration. For Everyone."

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Why? To experience all that this amazing building has to offer- its history and artwork, its books, its culture.
When: Though the most recent one begins on the 11th March, exhibitions are on all the time; and the general library is open normal business hours.
Where: 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne (Across the road from Melbourne Central)
Cost: Free
You write beautifully :)
By kuliw - reader
Thursday, 10th of March @ 11:42 am
I agree with Kuliw, you do write beautifully! And I also agree that the State Library is an extraordinary place indeed. I remember many a day spent on the lawn, listening to strangers play the guitar, soaking up the summer sun with my fellow uni friends. That place always brings back good memories.
By Lisa Williams - senior reviewer
Thursday, 2nd of June @ 07:31 am
aw thanks! ^^

It's a great place to relax on a summer day, with a cup of coffee and a book :)
By Sarah Muschamp - senior reviewer
Thursday, 2nd of June @ 07:41 am
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