The State Library opened in 1856 as the “people’s university” and is Australia's oldest public library. We are Victoria’s reference and research library and, while we play an important role in preserving and archiving our state’s history, we are also the information gateway to the wide world beyond. We complement and extend our fabulous public libraries, but our job is actually very different.
We collect almost everything published in Victoria, much that is published in Australia, a good selection of overseas publications, and we rarely throw anything out. While the public libraries lend a variety of materials and regularly turn over their stock, the State library gives home access to its enormous collection of e-resources and does not lend print materials, largely because we are an archive library.
We collect and make available a broad range of non-fiction books, journals, newspapers, pictures and manuscripts, but few works of fiction other than Australian novels and a selection of prize-winning novels from overseas. In recent years we have also collected large electronic databases that can be accessed from anywhere in Victoria. Everyone living in Victoria can become a full member of the library and can then access these e-collections from home.
Our collection aims for breadth of coverage. The level (or depth) of our collection sits between a public library and university.
We're not a lending library but your Library membership allows you to access collections within the building, and most online collections from anywhere. Take a look at the Catalogue, Research Guides, and eResources sections of this guide to learn about the best ways to access the Library's vast collection.
The library is made up of 23 different buildings on one city block - no wonder it can be confusing to find your way. See how it all fits together.