State Library Victoria - history

How to research the history, development, architecture, collections and management of the State Library of Victoria.

Redmond Barry Reading Room

The Redmond Barry Reading Room was opened on 27 November 2003 as the Library's open access reading room for books across all subjects, including international literature, law, sciences, and the humanities. (Books on Australian history, literature, and politics; arts, music and performing arts; and family history and newspapers are held in other reading rooms).

The name of the space honours the Library's founder, Sir Redmond Barry.

The parquetry floor is West Australian karri. The room has a pressed metal ceiling.


The 2011 Conservation management plan (available to read online) provides a detailed description and analysis of this portion of the building.

McCoy Hall

The Redmond Barry Reading Room is housed in the former McCoy Hall, which was built in 1893. The Industrial and Technological Museum had been established on the Swanston Street site in 1870, and moved into the new building when it was completed in 1893. In 1899 the Natural History Museum moved from its location at Melbourne University and the building was named McCoy Hall that year.

The building was named for Frederick McCoy who was integral in establishing the Museum and was gazetted as Director of the Museum of Natural and Applied Sciences in 1857, a position he held until his death.

At left - Display of animals in McCoy Hall, National Museum, Melbourne H12936

At right - Redmond Barry Reading Room (staff photo not part of Library Picture Collection)