The history of the State Library of Victoria

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


In 2015 the Library embarked on a five-year redevelopment project (Vision 2020), funded by a $55.4 million budget allocation from the Victorian Government and $28 million in philanthropic contributions.

In August 2015 the Library received a $10 million donation from the Ian Potter Foundation, to fund the refurbishment of Queen's Hall. This will allow the Library to reopen the space to the public for the first time in more than 12 years.

In December 2016 a $13 million funding boost for the redevelopment project was announced. The John and Myriam Wylie Foundation donated $8 million to reopen the Library’s Russell Street entrance and transform the eastern end of the building, including creating a new world-class exhibition gallery, the Victoria Gallery. The Victorian Government committed an additional $5 million to enhance all Library entrances and surrounding streetscapes. This funding will also be used to increase access to the Library with a new universally accessible entrance on La Trobe Street.

In March 2017 a $3 million donation by philanthropists Maria and Allan Myers QC was announced.

In early June 2017 the Library announced a $2 million donation by Christine Christian, one of Australia’s leading business women, to establish Start Space – a new centre designed to boost opportunities for budding entrepreneurs in Victoria.

In early September 2017 Jane Hansen and Paul Little AO, two of Australia’s foremost business leaders and philanthropists, made a $3.5 million donation towards two redeveloped spaces in the Library. In recognition of this generous support, Palmer Hall will be renamed Hansen Hall; and the Courtyard (Events Space) will be renamed the Conversation Quarter, endowed by the Hansen Little Foundation.

In late January 2019 the Library received a generous donation of $2 million from John and Pauline Gandel, through Gandel Philanthropy, to help deliver the new Children’s Quarter and provide free literacy programs created by children, for children. In recognition of this gift, the Children’s Quarter will be renamed the Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter.

The architectural designs for the redevelopment were made available to the public on 30 March 2017. Works began in 2017, for completion by 2020.

This significant redevelopment project will transform the Library so we can better meet the current and future needs of the community. The focus will be on optimising sections of the building to open up an additional 1000m2 space for public use, as well as developing programs and facilities that provide vital and improved economic, cultural and education opportunities for all Victorians. A major aim of the project is to increase the space available to the public by 40%.

Project milestones

Architects were announced April 2016:

Schmidt Hammer Lassen

These two architectural firms will be supported by Andronas Conservation Architecture, IrwinConsult and Steensen Varming Engineers.

The builders appointed to the project are Built. Their appointment was announced on 5 August 2017.

Construction began in 2017, with project completion expected in 2020.

21 September 2018 saw the opening of the new Russell and La Trobe Street entrances, Russell Street Welcome Zone, relocated Newspaper and Family History Reading Rooms, relocated Arts Reading Room, Cowen Gallery information desk, and the Isabella Fraser Room.

Redevelopment designs

Ballarat Offsite Store

In 2017, Hansen Yuncken was announced as the builder for BOSS2, the Library's $21.4 million second offsite collection storage facility at Federation University Australia (Ballarat), with funds provided by the Victorian Government as part of its Collection Storage Victoria and Creative State strategies.

BOSS2 will join the Library's current storage facility, BOSS1 (Ballarat Off-site Store), at the University’s Mount Helen campus, near Ballarat. BOSS1 already holds more than half of the Library's physical collection, at 50 linear kilometres, and BOSS2 will add more than 25 linear kilometres of storage space - enough space until 2027.


The most detailed and up-to-date source of information about the redevelopment is:

State Library Victoria, Vision 2020 [online]
Website with updates and answers to questions about the redevelopment project.

Additional sources:

Architectus, 6 May 2016, Architectus + Schmidt Hammer Lassen selected to transform iconic State Library Victoria [online]

Bailey, Michael, 31 May 2017, Christine Christian donates $2 million to State Library of Victoria for start-up hub, Australian Financial Review [online]

Bailey, Michael, 21 September 2018, John Wylie funds State Library of Victoria makeover to keep up with youth demand, Australian Financial Review [online]

Brown, Simon Leo, 14 December 2016, Five items you may see in the State Library's new Victoria Gallery, ABC News [online]

Creative Victoria, 30 March 2017, Victorian kids help architects design their dream library [online]

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, 30 April 2015, State Library of Victoria redevelopment announcement [online]

Edgar, Ray, 21 April 2017, State Library of Victoria revamp opens new chapter on modern design era [online]

Edwards, Jean, 29 April 2015, State Library of Victoria to receive $83 million facelift, including rooftop terrace, ABC News [online]

Francis, Hannah, 21 September 2018, Open book: State Library's eastern wing reopens with a flourish, The Age [online]

Le Grand, Chip, 4 September 2017, Philanthropic people powering the State Lib­rary of Victoria, The Age [online].

Major Projects Victoria, State Library of Victoria [online]

Minister for Creative Industries, 5 August 2017, Next steps for State Library Victoria’s vision [online]

Minister for Creative Industries, 4 September 2017, Works start on State Library Victoria’s transformation [online]

Munday, Brooke, 21 September 2018, A new entrance to the State Library of Victoria opens today, Time Out [online]

Plant, Simon, 21 September 2018, The Herald and Weekly Times Newspapers Reading Room reopens in a refurbished heritage room inside State Library Victoria, Herald Sun [online]

Puvanenthiran, Bhakthi, 29 April 2015, State Library of Victoria to get e-town hall in $83.1 million revamp, The Age [online]

State Library Victoria, 23 April 2016, Architects announced for State Library redevelopment [online]

State Library Victoria, Redevelopment project [online]
This web page links to the Overview of the State Library Victoria redevelopment video.

Tabet, Ted, 24 September 2018, First look at State Library Victoria’s $88 million revamp, The Urban Developer [online]

Webb, Carolyn, 14 December 2016, 'Library lands $8m gift for new gallery'/State Library of Victoria lands $8 million gift for new gallery, The Age, p8 [online]

Webb, Carolyn, 30 March 2017, State Library devotees kick off public appeal with $3 million donation, The Age [online]

Webb, Carolyn, 4 September 2017, Read-y or not, State Library of Victoria transformation to start after $27m raised, The Age [online].

'Cook crooks and books: donation paves way for State Library's drawcard gallery', Herald Sun, 15 Dec 2016, p13

'Investment banker's inventive gift to the arts leverages giving', Financial Review, 15 Dec 2016, p3