A new look for the Library

The Library is bursting with stories. If you placed all of our physical items (not to mention digital ones) side by side, they would almost stretch from Swanston Street to Ballarat. That’s more than 90 kilometers of stories.

Redmond Barry reading room

Redmond Barry reading room

More than a year ago, we asked you to help us shape the Library’s future story. From people who use the Library to people who don’t, community groups and primary schools, we spoke with Victorians from across the state to help us understand what was important.

Your feedback has led to some exciting new physical and digital changes that you’ll start to see pop up inside the Library and online over the next few months.

As Victoria’s official storykeeper, we want to make it easier for you to find, share, and create your own stories. We’re launching a new website in the coming weeks that will be easier to navigate and explore. We’re also making a number of changes to the foyer and other spaces throughout the Library to simplify your visit.

New signs




So whether you’re looking for a desk to work at, an exhibition to explore, or a book to take you far, far away, we want to make it easier for you to discover our stories and create your own.

More details coming soon…


Overheard at Grasslands

For the last month there have been around 10,000 native plants and grasses adorning the front steps and forecourt of the State Library. This is Linda Tegg’s Grasslands installation, which aims to give us a peek at Melbourne’s indigenous landscape, when the ground was covered in flowering native grasses.


As the installation comes to a close on Sunday 23 November, we’re reflecting on Grasslands and its impact on the Library and our community. Located in one of Melbourne’s busiest public spaces, it invites plenty of public interaction … and the response has been great – each day people pause to take photos, sit among the grasses for lunch and ask questions about the plants. Our incredible volunteers have overheard all sorts of comments, from ‘Looks like you’re sitting in a country paddock’ to ‘Can it be made permanent?’.


We have had visitors interested in all sorts of topics, including a doctor who wanted a list of the plants to investigate allergies, an ecologist who pointed out that less than .01% of Victoria’s original grasslands remain, and a group that came to see the Yam daisy and Aboriginal food plants. Artist Linda Tegg said, ‘The recurrent response has been an expression of wonderment, followed by a comment about making it permanent. People have come up to say thank you.’


Over the last six weeks we have watched the Grasslands installation change and grow, with dominant grasses receding as other species extend and flower. There are just a few more days to come and experience the much-loved grasses before Sunday – don’t miss out.


The photos in this post were shared with us by the public. Share your own photo tagged as #LibraryGrasslands to win one of 15 flowering crates of grasses from the installation. Winners will be announced on Friday 21 November and need to be available to pick up their grasses on Sunday 23 November from 12-2pm. The installation’s plants will be planted in Royal Park for all to enjoy.

Melbourne’s counter-culture and creative identity explored in upcoming exhibition Bohemian Melbourne.

“For more than a century and a half, Melbourne has spawned networks of creative iconoclasts – poets, painters, novelists, performers, satirists, filmmakers, rock ’n’ roll stars – as famous for their subversive, controversial lifestyles as for the work they produced.”
- Tony Moore

The State Library of Victoria will explore the counter-cultural and creative identity of Melbourne in its upcoming exhibition Bohemian Melbourne this summer. Read the rest of this entry »

The final week of Victor Hugo

Our incredible exhibition Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage will come to a close on Sunday 9 November. It’s been a great ride! If you have not yet made it down to the Library to see the show, there are just three more days left. Yes, count them  three! Here is a message from the exhibition curator Anais Lellouche, reflecting on the final days of the exhibition:

The exhibition has led to four months of all things French and revolutionary being celebrated at the Library. In that time we’ve seen choirs sing on the front steps, a jaunty Javert popping up in unlikely places, scripts, musical paraphernalia, movie clips, and the pièce de résistance – the handwritten original Les Misérables manuscript.


The manuscript has returned home to the Bibliothèque nationale de France (it can only be displayed for short periods to preserve its precious pages) but you can leaf through the digitised manuscript, and view drawings, photographs and writing that illustrates Victor Hugo’s life and experience of Paris. Alongside these we explore the history of the novel and its hit musical through costumes, clips, posters and set pieces.

SLV_VictorHugo_launch_08_smClaude Michel Schonberg - 3

Visit our dedicated Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage website for full details on the exhibition, ticket information and sales, Victor Hugo and more.


Lachlan Murdoch on the importance of free media

On Thursday evening Lachlan Murdoch delivered the 2014 Keith Murdoch Oration at the State Library, an annual speech that honours his grandfather’s life and work. The oration raises funds to support the ongoing work of the Library and has previously been delivered by Nobel Prize winner Laureate Professor Peter Doherty and former Prime Minister Paul Keating.

Standing before a room of guests that included James Packer, Sarah Murdoch and Premier Denis Napthine, Lachlan stated that ‘a free media must be dependent on no one for favours’ and that censorship in any form ‘erodes our freedom to know, to be informed, and to make reasoned decisions in our society and in our democracy’.

Read the full transcript or view the footage of the oration here.

2014 Inky Award winners announced

The Inky Awards were announced with great panache on Wednesday at the State Library, as school kids, authors, teachers and librarians came together to celebrate all things teen literature. Each year during the Inky Awards, readers between 12 and 20 vote for their favourite books from a shortlist selected by a panel of teen judges. Five Australian and five international books are shortlisted, then the books that attract the most reader votes online win.

And so with no further ado, here are the 2014 winners …

Gold Inky The first third by Will Kostakis (Penguin)

‘Life is made up of three parts: in the first third, you’re embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you’ve made.’

Silver Inky All the truth that’s in me by Julie Berry (HarperCollins)

‘Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years later, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by her friends and family.’


Gold Inky winner Will Kostakis said it was sensational to see schools embracing the entire shortlist, and encouraging students to read, critique and vote. ‘To be part of the Inky’s process has been so rewarding – and to win, well, that’s the icing on an already awesome cake.’


The Centre for Youth Literature’s Reader Development Manager Anna Burkey said the Inky Awards encourage teens to read for pleasure and share the stories they enjoy. ’The Inky Awards show us what Australian young people are really interested in reading. This year’s shortlist is full of first love and family life, struggles with survival, the unknown and finding your place in the world,’ Ms Burkey said.


The Inky Awards were founded by the State Library’s Centre for Youth Literature in 2007 as Australia’s first national teen choice awards for young adult literature. For more on teen reading and books, head to their site Inside a Dog.


Dromkeen Medal awarded to Helen Chamberlin

Esteemed editor and publisher Helen Chamberlin has been awarded the 2014 Dromkeen Medal, which honours outstanding contributions to children’s literature.

2014 Dromkeen Medal and Librarian’s Award

Helen has worked as an editor and publisher of children’s and young adult books for 40 years. In that time she has nurtured some of Australia’s most celebrated writers, such as Shaun Tan, Anne Spudvilas and Gregory Rogers. Helen also volunteers with the Children’s Literature Australia Network to mentor emerging illustrators and authors, and bring children’s book festivals to schools.

2014 Dromkeen Medal and Librarian’s Award

Shaun Tan – author of acclaimed graphic novel The Arrival – said, ‘Helen really is one of our industry’s great quiet achievers, someone with a genuine passion for good literature for readers of all ages, coupled with a wise and patient approach to dealing with authors and artists, as well as the vagaries of publishing, with all its changing economic, cultural and political aspects.’

2014 Dromkeen Medal and Librarian’s Award

About Dromkeen
The Dromkeen homestead in Riddell’s Creek was the home of Courtney and Joyce Oldmeadow, who ran an educational bookshop. Over 30 years, the Oldmeadows built a collection of beloved Australian picture books and Dromkeen became the home of Australian children’s literature, visited by authors, illustrators and thousands of students.

In 1978 Scholastic Australia took responsibility for maintaining the collection and in 1985 bought the homestead to ensure its preservation. In 2012 the Dromkeen Foundation and Scholastic Australia gifted the Dromkeen collection and archive to the State Library of Victoria.

2014 Dromkeen Medal and Librarian’s Award


All photographs thanks to James Braund. 

Linda Tegg’s Grasslands opens

This week patches of native grass sprung up on the State Library’s steps as Linda Tegg’s Grasslands installation opened to the public. Standing in the concrete bustle of Swanston Street, it’s hard to imagine what the city looked like before settlement, but Grasslands gives us a peek at Melbourne’s original landscape, when the ground was covered in flowering native grasses. Linda has installed over 10,000 plants in front of the Library, including bulbine lilies, billy buttons, blue pincushions and chocolate lilies.


Grasslands is located in one of Melbourne’s busiest public spaces and invites public interaction. It’s an artwork you can get inside, touch and feel. The response from Melbournians has been great – people pause to take photos, kids touch the soft fronds, workers perch between plants and students chat beside blossoms. Linda says, ‘The recurrent response has been an expression of wonderment, followed by a comment about making it permanent. People have come up to say thank you.’


Grasslands will be on at the State Library for six weeks. Linda explains that over that period the installation will visibly change, ‘The grasses that are most dominant now will recede as other species extend and flower. Many of the flowers we see now will dry off, while others come into bloom.’ For the time being though, we can enjoy smelling the sweet chocolate lilies (the purple flowers – don’t miss a sniff) and the increasing number of birds and butterflies drawn to this island of green in the city.


Grasslands is on until 23 November 2014. Join us to hear more about the artwork and plants in a free panel discussion on Wednesday 15 October, 6–7pm in The Courtyard, State Library of Victoria.

Presented by the State Library of Victoria in association with Melbourne Festival, Grasslands was conceived during Linda’s 2012 Georges Mora Foundation Fellowship at the Library, where she researched the site’s original flora.

Share your Grasslands photos with us by using #LibraryGrasslands

Condolence books for MH17 victims now housed in State Library of Victoria

Condolence books containing thousands of messages to families affected by the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 tragedy are now housed within the State Library of Victoria. Read the rest of this entry »

Flashpoint – exclusive preview of new Victorian theatre

On Thursday 25 September theatre goers will get an exclusive preview of works in development by some of Victoria’s most exciting playwrights in Flashpoint, a series of play readings that allow the audience to witness the process of creating new live theatre.  Read the rest of this entry »