Melbourne's best libraries
The 139-year-old Kathleen Syme building is home to an Oculus Rift – a piece of virtual reality technology that’s been programmed to enable participants to experience snow falling in a forest. Thanks to a multi-million dollar refurb, the library is also an excellent workspace with great internet access, plentiful desks, private meeting rooms, free WiFi and fab coffee from the Wild Timor Coffee Co.
In the heart of the William Street's legal district is a library so beautiful it’s worth a squiz, even though you can’t borrow as a member of the public. Arcane law volumes line the walls and junior solicitors scale wooden ladders to retrieve them.
This new library with waterfront views boasts more than 200,000 books on shelf, subscriptions to daily newspapers and hundreds of magazines, as well as massive DVD, CD and eBook collections. It’s a well-rounded community hub with state-of-the-art facilities including a gallery, pro-editing suites, a recording studio, practice rooms and community spaces that can be booked for meetings. Check the website for regular free workshops, events and lunchtime concerts.
Tucked upstairs above the Athenaeum Theatre in a building constructed in 1839 to house the Mechanic’s Institution, the library is a semi-secret reading room. Here, you’ll find quality new releases and classics and one of Victoria’s best crime fiction collections. There’s a modest membership fee attached ($30-$99), but it’s worth it – you’ll feel like the member of a thoroughly civilised private club from yesteryear.