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State Library of Victoria

  • Attractions
  • Melbourne
  1. An exterior shot of the front building of the State Library of V
    Photograph: State Library of Victoria
  2. State Library of Victoria
    Photograph: Roberto Seba

Time Out says

Take a free tour of the 1850s-built State Library, from the famous dome to the permanent exhibitions, to the Chess Room

The State Library of Victoria is a cultural landmark that houses an incredible amount of books, as well as several exhibitions and galleries.

The library was established in 1856 and is a grand presence on Swanston Street, with interior spaces to match. The La Trobe Reading Room is a six-storey-high domed room that is magnificent to look at. Beautiful artworks depicting Victoria’s history are exhibited in the Cowen Gallery for visitors to peruse. North and south rotundas and the Keith Murdoch gallery also hold exhibitions and artworks.

The library offers everything needed for a productive work day – free wifi, printing services and plenty of seating options (our pick is the aforementioned La Trobe Reading Room). Along with books and artworks, the State Library houses thousands of heritage items, maps, manuscripts and newspapers. Digital material is also available for readers to access. And all of this is free.

You will find people lounging on the lawns in front of the library on a sunny day, while various cafes are located close by to fuel the visitors with delicious treats. The Readings bookshop located inside the library gives them plenty to spend their money on.

Written by
Saakshi Gupta


328 Swanston St
Nearby stations: Melbourne Central
Opening hours:
Daily 10am-6pm

What’s on

World of the Book

Lovers of the written word rejoice; a free exhibition over at the State Library Victoria is spotlighting the history of book design, production and illustration from the Middle Ages to the present day. World of the Book features more than 300 rare, remarkable, historically significant items in the State Collection, each unravelling a unique story from its pages.  This year’s themes hone in on books and ideas; books and imagination; art and nature; artists and books; and Egyptology to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb.  Exhibition highlights include a book on astronomy as far back as 336CE, a 17th-century book defaced by cat paw prints, rare editions of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass on display and an edition of Mary Shelley’s science-friction masterpiece Frankenstein. Printed during the author’s lifetime, it is the first edition to contain a preface where Shelley recounts the story of the novel’s inception: on the shores of Lake Geneva during a thunderstorm where Mary, her husband Percy Shelley and Lord Byron competed with one another to tell the best ghoulish story.  World of the Book also includes several masterpieces by female writers on show for the first time, such as an embroidered binding that belonged to Henrietta Maria, the Queen Consort married to King Charles I until he was executed. The physicist Émilie du Châtelet’s most recognised achievement, her French translation of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, is also

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