State Library Victoria - history

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


This page covers:

  • the campaign for a new State Library building in the 1980s
  • reports of the conditions at the Library prior to the redevelopment
  • redevelopment 1990-2007

In 1973, the Veitch Committee recommended erecting a new library building on a new site.

The Queen Victoria Market site was chosen and later rejected by the Cain government in 1983. Later, the Queen Victoria Hospital site was suggested and later rejected.

Finally, in 1988 the plan was announced to sell the Queen Victoria Medical Centre site, to relocate the Museum to a new site on the South Bank of the Yarra and to redevelop the State Library on its existing site.

The redevelopment project, involving the renovation of existing buildings and the construction of new purpose-built spaces, began in 1990 and continued to 2007 when the final stage of works was substantially completed. The project included the following participants:

Project Director: Office of Major Projects

Project Manager: CMR Consultants Australia Pty Ltd

Architect: Ancher, Mortlock & Woolley Pty Ltd

Architect's Agent: Pels Innes Neilson Kosloff

Services Engineer: Norman Disney & Young

Structural Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners

Quantity Surveyor: Rider Hunt Melbourne Pty Ltd.

Dome H2002.39/10[Dome renovations 2001], H2002.39/10 

Information is organised chronologically, with the earliest background sources, 1973 to 1989, below, and publications from 1990, opposite.


Sources 1973 to 1989

Victoria, State Library Building Feasibility Study Committee, 1973, Report of the State Library Building Feasibility Study Committee, Melbourne

The Veitch committee, chaired by R. W. Veitch, the Deputy Under Secretary, concluded that the State Library required a new building on a new site.

Hamer, R J, May 1980,‘Opening of the reference centre State Library of Victoria', Victorian historical journal, vol 51,  pp 67-8

Address delivered at the opening of the State Library's Reference and Information Centre, located on the ground floor of the Library on 29 February 1980.

Staughton, Peter S, 1984, State Library and Museum of Victoria complex

Vol. 1: Report for Public Works Department of Victoria upon the existing conditions survey of the complex

Vol. 2 Section C, South Building

Lovell Chen, 2011, State Library of Victoria complex...:: conservation management plan, [online]

Ancher, Mortlock and Woolley, [1986], State Library and Museum architectural competition

A commissioned competition for the redevelopment of the State Library and Museum. Record of the winning design submitted by Ancher Mortlock & Woolley Architects February 1986.

Ancher, Mortlock and Woolley, 1986, Urban design brief for the existing State Library and Museum and the Queen Victoria Medical Centre in Swanston Street, Melbourne,

Lee, Tony, (editor), 1986,  Building on tradition: nine designs for the Victorian State Library and museum architectural competition,  Emery Vincent Associates, South Melbourne

State Library/Museum Buildings Advisory Committee, Library Council of Victoria, Council of the Museum of Victoria, 1986, Victoria State Library and Museum project: consolidated functional brief

State Library/Museum competition', April 1986, Architect, pp 4-5, 8-25

Includes the assessment panel's report and architect's statement and plans for each entry. 

‘State Library and Museum redevelopment plan: Ancher Mortlock and Woolley (architects)', July 1986, Architecture Australia, vol 75, no 5, pp 32-34

 Proposal for refurbishment, State Library of Victoria , [1987], Artech, Balwyn, Victoria.

Victoria. State Library Development Study Steering Committee, 1987, The State Library development study, 1987 : "... an investment of the truest kind ...", (Chairman: J. Arnold Hancock, study director: John Thompson)

Chief Librarian's Council (Victoria), [1988], Joint response to, The libraries review, The State Library development study 1987, A Frame work for the future, Discussion paper : Library Council of Victoria 1987, as they relate to public libraries in Victoria, Chief Librarian's Council (Victoria), Library Association of Australia, Public Libraries Section (Victorian Group) [and] Municipal Inter-Library Committee of Victoria. [Melbourne] : The Authors, . 

Ministry for the Arts...[et al], 1988, Victoria State Library and Museum redevelopment: Library functional brief: final draft, July 1988.

State Library of Victoria, [1988?], Report for Ministry of Housing and Construction: the existing conditions of the State Library and Museum of Victoria: summary

Precis of the 1988 Condition Survey Report, providing a general appraisal of the existing conditions and a broad overview of the structural integrity of the SLV buildings and the more significant problems observed. Includes six pages of plans of the SLV buildings.

Ancher, Mortlock and Woolley, 1989, State Library of Victoria redevelopment project: design brief new buildings report

Ancher, Mortlock and Woolley, 1989 State Library of Victoria redevelopment project: draft services brief 

State Library Development Council, 1989, A library in peril: a report to the government and community of Victoria, [edited by Miles Lewis]

This is a compilation of statements, newspaper cuttings and other material on the condition of the State Library in 1987. The publication includes a response to The State Library development study, 1987. Statistics and a bibliography are provided.

Sources 1990 to 2007

Check annual reports and copies of the State Library of Victoria News for reports on the redevelopment works.

Lemon, Andrew, December 1991, ‘The fight goes on,' Trust news, vol 20, no 6,  pp 8-9 

The State Library Development Committee campaigns for improved conditions in the State Library of Victoria.

Lodewycks, Axel, (editor), [1990], The campaign for a new State Library of Victoria, A Lodewycks, Box Hill South, Victoria 

Compilation of articles, letters to the editor and other material critical of the existing building and documenting the campaign for a new modern State Library building. Includes copies of newspaper reports dating from 1981 to 1990.

Balderstone, Susan, 1991,  State Library and Museum of Victoria buildings : conservation plan, [Housing and ConstructionDepartment, Melbourne]

La Scala, Jane, June 1992, ‘Glorious ornament or Victoria's shame: the State Library of Victoria facing the 21st century', Australian academic and research libraries, vol 23, no 2, pp 78-91 

Outlines the establishment and early growth of the State Library, the condition of the library in 1992, its vision for the future and the achievement of the vision.

Maslen, Geoffrey, 15 June 1993, ‘Tragedy of errors. Difficulties in finding a location for the Museum of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria. Bulletin (Sydney) , pp 87-88

‘Project: State Library of Victoria: a redevelopment story', February 2001, Building Australia magazine, vol.4, no 1, pp 28-30

Local History File Melbourne, Vic., Libraries. State Library of Victoria. New Building'
Phone 8664 7009 to arrange delivery of this file. Includes:

  • copy of the ‘Heritage guide: State Library of Victoria', with a potted history of each of the main buildings
  • newspaper articles 1981-1989 about the condition of the Library and the need for a new building and plans in the early 1980s to build one (which were scrapped)
  • an article from The Age, 30 November 1987,  ‘A long history of hesitation', with a chronology of the history of the Government's plans and decisions about the future sites of the Library and Museum.

Ballarat Offsite Store

In September 2004 the Victorian Premier announced funding to construct a purpose-built store for the State Library, based at the University of Ballarat's Mt Helen campus (now Federation University).

In December 2005 the building was opened by John Brumby MP, then Minister for Regional Development. The store provided room for 44kms of collection material (8709 square metres of storage space), bringing together collections that had previously been housed in four locations across Melbourne. 

Requests for material from the store started on 8 May 2006, with the first delivery of material to Swanston Street on 9 May 2006. See:

Bateman, Paul, 2009, News from the fridge, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, pp 222-223.

In 2017 work started on an expansion to the original Ballarat Offsite Store (now known as BOSS1).