Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley today re-opened the SLV’s Swanston Street entrance, allowing Victorians to rediscover Australia’s oldest library – now with stunning revitalised spaces and creative technology.
“State Library Victoria has always been famed and loved – it was one of the first free public libraries in the world and remains among the most visited, welcoming almost 2 million visitors a year,” said Martin Foley. “This once-in-a-generation transformation builds on our library’s 163-year legacy, providing free access to world-class resources, fantastic new spaces and creative technologies. It sets a new benchmark for libraries everywhere.”
The Victorian Government contributed $60.4 million to the $88.1 million redevelopment, with remaining funds raised from six major donors and thousands of public donations. Visitors can now see magnificent spaces like the restored heritage Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, reopened to the public after 16 years and able to double as an event space as well as a reading room.
Once known as the ‘people’s university’, the library offers four new covered courtyards for learning, each connected to The Quad, a central information hub and the heart of the ground floor. The four courtyards are:
• the Conversation Quarter – for lectures, conferences and workshops
• the Ideas Quarter – a co-working space
• the Create Quarter – where schools and other groups can collaborate
• the Children’s Quarter.
The Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter is designed for children aged five to 12, and features a castle, reading nooks, a running track and, a free program to improve literacy skills and instil a love of reading in young people. Award-winning teams Architectus and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects led the project’s design with construction delivered by Built, one of Australia’s largest construction groups.
The new spaces, along with those that opened in 2018 – including the Russell Street entrance, reading rooms and the Victoria Gallery – complement existing public spaces like the famous domed La Trobe Reading Room. The transformed State Library Victoria is now open to all and entry is free. For more information, visit: www.slv.vic.gov.au for details.
Image: The Ian Potter Queen’s Hall – courtesy of State Library Victoria