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 »

Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage now open

Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage, a world-first exhibition and the biggest ever staged by the State Library of Victoria, is now open.

The exhibition explores the 19th century origins of Victor Hugo’s greatest novel Les Misérables and examines his fascinating life and enduring influence as a writer, artist and political activist.

With remarkable loans from the Maison de Victor Hugo in Paris and Guernsey, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Musee Rodin and, for the first time, material from the Cameron Mackintosh archives, the exhibition is of world significance for lovers of Les Misérables.

Victor Hugo’s original 1862 manuscript of Les Misérables is an exhibition highlight. The 945 page volume is a national treasure of France and a prized item in the Biblioteque Nationale de France collections. This is its first showing outside Europe.

Since its publication in 1862 Les Misérables has sold countless copies, been translated into 20 languages, adapted for cinema at least 50 times, and has inspired 3 major musical theatre productions. This exhibition explores the events that led to the story’s creation and how it has remained part of the popular consciousness for over 150 years.

Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage  coincides with the Australian premier of Cameron Mackintosh’s stage production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables now showing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne. Les Misérables is one of the most popular musicals of all time, seen by over 65 million people worldwide.

The exhibition goes behind the scenes of the musical with displays of original stage props, costumes and designs as well as interviews from composers, performers and costume and set makers. A selection of the costumes from the production are available for visitors to wear as they take to the stage for their own star performance.

A series of public events and schools programs complement the exhibition.

Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage is developed and presented by the State Library of Victoria and exclusive to Melbourne.


Victor Hugo's manuscript of Les Misérables 1862

Victor Hugo’s manuscript of Les Misérables 1862

State Library welcomes new Creative Fellows – funds creative use of collections

The State Library of Victoria has announced the recipients of the 2014-15 Creative Fellowships, a program started eleven years ago to foster the creative use of the State Library’s collections and resources. Read the rest of this entry »

Cultural coup as Melbourne secures French national treasure

The original 1862 manuscript of Les Misérables, a French national treasure, is leaving Europe for the first time to be exhibited exclusively at the State Library of Victoria, Minister for the Arts Heidi Victoria announced today.

The 945 page volume will leave the Bibliothèque nationale de France to be exhibited in the world-first exhibition, Victor Hugo: Les Misérables From Page to Stage which opens July 17.

Ms Victoria said the loan of the manuscript was unheard of outside of Europe.

‘The loan of this manuscript to Melbourne is an act of enormous trust and generosity on behalf of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the French people. It is also significant that the State Library of Victoria is the first institution outside of Europe that France has entrusted this great work to.’

Sue Roberts, State Library of Victoria CEO and State Librarian said it is an ‘amazing coup that the manuscript is coming to Australia.’

‘This remarkable manuscript has never travelled outside of Europe–never to New York, never to London–but this July it will be here in Melbourne. The exhibition it is featured in will be one of the jewels in the crown of exhibitions in Australia and also globally this year. It brings together many unique materials that have not been seen in Australia and others which have never been exhibited anywhere before, to reveal the birth and explosive success of one of the world’s great stories. For me and the millions of fans of Les Misérables around the world this is terrifically exciting.’

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. The story follows the plight of downtrodden and dispossessed characters in Paris and culminates in the dramatic events of the 1832 June Rebellion.

Since 1862 Les Misérables has been translated into 20 languages, sold countless copies, has been adapted for cinema at least 50 times and is the foundation for three major musical adaptations, including the Cameron Mackintosh production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables which has been seen by over 65 million people and is one of the most popular musicals of all time.

The exhibition coincides with the Australian premiere of Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed new production of new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables premiering at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, in June 2014.

The original Les Misérables manuscript will be travelling en route from Paris via Dubai in its own lie-flat Business Class seat on board Emirates Airline, a major exhibition partner.

Tickets $15 adult, $12 concession, $42 family – on sale now through Ticketek.

For more information visit

View video of this news via The Age.

Victor Hugo’s manuscript of Les Misérables 1862
Victor Hugo's manuscript of Les Misérables 1862

Victor Hugo’s manuscript of Les Misérables 1862

Victor Hugo's manuscript of Les Misérables 1862

Victor Hugo’s manuscript of Les Misérables 1862






State Library builds Rome for a day

The State Library will be transformed into a piece of Italy this Sunday at the free Viva l’Italia! family day.

The Italian festival is inspired by the Library’s latest exhibition: Rome: Piranesi’s vision and will feature an array of free activities, entertainment and culinary delights.

Viva l’Italia! echoes Italy’s centuries old tradition of La Scampagnata or picnic. There’ll be wonderful Italian food, music and dance as well as bocce on the lawn and printmaking and mask painting for children. It’s a little piece of Italy in the centre of Melbourne.

Festivities include life drawing of models dressed as Roman gods, a DJ spinning Italian ‘50s ‘60s tunes, pizza acrobatics, Lego monuments of Rome to build, folk music and sing-alongs with Italian women’s choir La Voce Della Luna.

One of the day’s highlights will be the free Italian and English tours of Rome: Piranesi’s vision, the Library’s premier exhibition showcasing the exquisite artworks of 18th Century Italian master printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 – 78).

Come join us at Viva l’Italia! 11am-4pm, Sunday, April 13. Bookings are not required.

Full details here.


Viva L'Italia!

Viva L’Italia!


Inky Awards longlist announced

The 2014 Inky Awards longlist for peer-recommended, high quality young adult fiction has been announced by the Centre for Youth Literature (State Library of Victoria) at the Somerset Celebration of Literature festival in Queensland.

Read the rest of this entry »

Melbourne’s newest newspaper hits the streets Monday

This Monday The Melbourne Sirius will launch as Melbourne’s newest newspaper. It’s first edition will also be it’s last. The paper is a record of Melbourne’s rich newspaper history listing the name, birth date and death date of every defunct newspaper published in Melbourne between 1838 and now – all 525 of them.

Melbourne Sirius is an artist newspaper (a newspaper made as a work of art) produced by journalist, author and State Library creative fellow Rachel Buchanan during her 2013-14 fellowship.

Rachel discovered the Melbourne mastheads while examining an old State Library card catalogue. It is a remarkable and diverse list containing Welsh, Hebrew and Scandinavian papers – Greek sport only papers, abstinence papers, drug legalisation papers, surfing papers, music papers and many more all produced in central Melbourne. They give an extraordinary insight into the city’s past.

Rachel writes:

‘Melbourne Sirius appears at a historic moment; eight days after the publication of the last broadsheet version of The Age and two days after the launch of The Saturday Paper, a new weekly newspaper being published by Morry Schwartz. Even more significant, perhaps, is the closure of The Age’s print plant at Tullamarine at the end of March. From next month, The Age will be printed at Ballarat.

The paper invites readers to stop and contemplate what this moment might mean for them and for their city. It asks you to read slowly. What other moments are suggested by the long list of dead newspapers and the radical variety in the lifespan, purpose and tone of each of these papers?’

525 copies of Melbourne Sirius will be distributed by Rachel and her two daughters at significant newspaper sites around Melbourne.

Hand out times and places are as follows on Monday 3 March:

  • Herald and Weekly Times (corner Flinders Street and Exhibition Street): 11am – 12pm
  • Herald (Collins St, between Elizabeth and Swanston, outside Nespresso shop) 12.30-1.30pm
  • Argus (corner Elizabeth and La Trobe Streets) 2-3pm
  • Age (corner Spencer and Lonsdale Streets) 3.30pm-4pm
  • Age Media House (corner Collins and Spencer St) 4.30-5.30pm

Don’t miss out on your highly collectable copy of Melbourne newest newspaper.

Find out more.

Do you have a creative idea? The State Library Creative Fellowships are open for applications now.

'Melbourne Sirius' Design: Stephen Banham (Letterbox)

‘Melbourne Sirius’
Design: Stephen Banham (Letterbox)