State Library Victoria - history

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

Library mottos and seals

Gold stamp of the Melbourne Public Library. Detail of Art Union 1846, London. ∗SF 705 AR 7 Rare Book Collection, State Library Victoria

The original Library motto was ‘Delectant domi non impediunt foris peregrinantur’ ('a delight at home, and no hindrance abroad'), from Cicero, Pro archia poeta, cap.7; a reflection on the way that books enhance life, wherever one is in the world. The original seal featured a bookshelf motif. This seal and motto were used from 1854, and many older books in the collection have this seal and motto stamped on their covers.

This seal and motto are featured on the entrance to the Library's Village Roadshow Theatrette (Entry 3, La Trobe Street, formerly the La Trobe Library). The motto is also incorporated in the design of several stained glass windows (1910) which decorate the stairwells in the west and north links of the Dome.

The motto used on the cover of books in the Travelling Libraries is slightly different. The original motto 'Delectant domi non impediunt foris peregrinantur' has the word 'rusticantur' added ('A delight at home and no impediment abroad while on the road or at rest in the country'). 'Rusticantur' is a clever allusion to the main purpose of the Travelling Libraries, which was to make the Library's books available to the country districts.

Red wax seal in a circular seal box (slightly damaged lid). The seal is cracked in several positions.

Seal of the Public Library, Gallery and Museum of Victoria, 1870, H14027

Another seal, of the then-combined Public Library, Museums and National Gallery of Victoria, from 1870, features the motto 'Tum variae venere artes' ('and then the various arts arrived'), by Virgil.


Hubber, Brian, 'Leading by example: Barry in the Library', La Trobe Journal, No 73, Autumn 2004, available online.

Stained glass motto

Detail of stained glass window in east link of Dome Reading Room, State Library Victoria

Detail of art nouveau stained glass window in east link of Dome, State Library Victoria, showing motto. Window designed by Norman Peebles.

Redmond Barry's motto

Redmond Barry, the Library's founder, had his own familial coat of arms placed on the exterior wall of the Library, beneath the portico, directly above the main entry on Swanston Street.

His family motto is 'Boutez en avant' ('Thrust forward').

Redmond Barry Coat of Arms

La Trobe Journal No 73 Autumn, p.112