Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.
WATCH THE VIDEO: Next time you’re in Melbourne’s CBD, duck into the refurbished State Library Victoria, which is very much a library for the 21st century.
After five years, State Library Victoria is ready to show off its latest, high-tech iteration designed to appeal to office workers, tourists, researchers, artists, students and families alike.
Here’s what to expect for your next visit to the site that includes 23 buildings across two acres. Hint: it’s not just about the books, although, to be fair, there are more than two million of them on display.
The light-filled transformation – conceived by Australasian firm Architectus and Scandinavia’s Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects – marks the completion of the Vision 2020 redevelopment (an $88.1 million project funded by $60.4 million from the Victorian Government, with the remainder raised through philanthropy) that will see the opulent Melbourne heritage landmark, circa 1854, remain the epicentre for education, ideas, creativity and debate in Victoria.
New zones on the ground floor include a refurbished Swanston Street entrance foyer with digital screens giving visitors the lowdown on what’s happening where in the library and further along, four activity quarters.
The Conversation Quarter is a state-of-the-art forum for lectures, conferences and workshops. The Ideas Quarter is home to StartSpace, a co-working space for early stage startups and small businesses. There’s also a Create Quarter with spaces for group work and school programs with pop-up talks and events, and Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery.
Take the stairs to the first floor and adjacent to the 35-metre-high Domed Reading Room you’ll enter the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, which will act as a reading space by day and an opulent event venue by night.
These new spaces are in addition to Vision 2020 spaces that opened in September 2018 – including the Russell Street entrance, the Newspapers and Family History Reading Room, the Arts Reading Room and the Victoria Gallery.
On that note, don’t miss the Victoria Gallery’s free exhibition, Velvet, Iron, Ashes on until 23 February, where you can view the armour of infamous bushranger Ned Kelly and the iconic Ashes Urn, on loan from Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.
Don’t forget, library membership is free and you can sign up online. Too easy.
Click on the video above to see the new spaces up close.