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Closed sections of the State Library of Victoria are opening for the first time in decades

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Written by
Rebecca Russo
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The State Library of Victoria is undergoing an impressive $88 million refurb, and some of the sections of the library will reopen to the public after years of closure.

The Vision 2020 Redevelopment Project involves major refurbishments of the library’s heritage spaces, as well as the creation of new spaces and new entrances. More than 2 million people visit the 1856 building every year, and the goal of the redevelopment is to build 40 per cent more public spaces.

Here are some of the spaces coming to the library in the near future:

The Ian Potter Queen’s Hall

State Library of Victoria Ian Potter Queen's Hall Vision 2020

Photograph: Supplied

Construction has already begun on the library’s original reading room, the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, which has been closed to the public since 2003. The room will be returned to its original purpose as a reading room, with the 19th-century decor restored. The original skylights, which were closed in the 1970s, will be uncovered.

New entrances

State Library of Vic Russell Street entrance Vision 2020
Russell Street Entrance
Photograph: Supplied

Get used to entering the library from a different location, too. This spring, the main Swanston Street entrance will close temporarily to make way for work on the building’s ground floor. Two new entrances will be opening as a result – a new accessible entrance on La Trobe Street, and the Russell Street entrance, which has been closed for more than a decade.   

The new Russell Street entrance will house a bright co-working area, with a new Readings bookstore and coffee cart. From here you will have access to the popular Redmond Barry reading room and the new Victoria Gallery.  

State Library of Victoria Russell Street Welcome Zone Vision 2020
Russell Street Welcome Zone
Photograph: Supplied

The Swanston Street entrance will be overhauled and reopen with new digital technology and a new lift to the Ian Potter Queen’s Hall. The old marble staircases will be reopened, and you’ll get to see the long-hidden 1920s murals that covered the walls of the landing.

Even more spaces!

  • A new world-class exhibition space called the Victoria Gallery will open in 2019 and showcase the best of the library’s collections;
  • A Conversation Quarter, which will apparently connect visitors in real time to events happening across the country and around the world;
  • The ground floor of the library will soon be known as the Quad, and will connect all four of the library’s activity courtyards;
  • A new children’s space will open and feature a treehouse-style loft and a running track;
  • StartSpace, a new centre for entrepreneurship that will help develop early-stage startups and small businesses; and
  • Three new reading rooms will be opened too, so there will be plenty of places to read, study or take a cheeky lunchtime nap (hey, no judgement here!)
State Library of Victoria Start Space Vision 2020
Start Space
Photograph: Supplied

The library will remain open during the redevelopment, but keep an eye on closures and item relocations at this time.

In pictures: take a look at the five new Metro Tunnel stations.

Library fan? Check out the 5 best libraries in Melbourne.

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