The State Library of Victoria to Undergo a Massive $88 Million Renovation

The redevelopment will open up 40 percent more space to the public.
Imogen Baker
Published on March 30, 2017

The State Library of Victoria is a grand old building — and she's about to get 40 percent grander. It's just been announced that the State Library will undergo massive renovations, opening up 40 percent more space to the public by 2020. The $88.1 million 2020 Vision redevelopment will include a new café, a new Readings bookshop, a co-working space, a children's centre, exhibition spaces and three new reading rooms — and that's just the start.

The extension is being handled (with the greatest of care) by architecture firms Architectus — the big guns behind Brisbane's QAGOMA and the Arts West extension at Melbourne Uni — and Denmark's Schmidt Hammer Lassen. They've been surveying not just the site, but the community for the last 18 months to determine what to do with the new spaces. Great halls, defunct lobbies and decrepit entrances will be revamped and opened up. And they're committed to retaining the original style of the heritage building at the same time.

The new spaces will include:

  • Queen's Hall — Located on the Swanston Street side of the building, Queen's Hall was an original room, built in 1856, that's been closed for 15 years. It's being turned into a reading room during the day (event space at night), retaining its original 1856 wall paint.
  • Russell Street entrance — The Russell Street side of the State Library is currently home only to spookiness and trash, but will be opened up to capture foot traffic. They'll be opening a café (a sibling for sweet Mr Tulk!), a Readings bookshop (yes!), and a co-working space for budding entrepreneurs.
  • Children's Quarter —  An education, but fun, space for kiddies and kidults alike to play and fall in love with the library. Matilda would be so proud.

It's a massive undertaking. The State Government is contributing two-thirds of the funding, but the library has committed to raising the rest of the budget. Construction is slated to begin in July. You can read more about (and donate money to) the project here .

Published on March 30, 2017 by Imogen Baker
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