I recently went on a tour of the State Library of Victoria’s dome and dungeons. A free tour courtesy of a long time librarian, this was part of the Emerging Writers Festival.
Apart from having one of the most actively utilised public spaces in Melbourne, perhaps due to the patronage of RMIT university students but also largely due to the solar access (see this seminal video by William H Whyte on urban space for the importance of sunlight), it is actually a series of buildings and extensions since Joseph’s Reed’s original 1854 building. The photo below shows an internal space demonstrating the original rear elevation of the bluestone building to the right, the later Victorian addition to the left, an infill in the centre, all to be a roofed atrium space in the latter half of the 20th century.
Likewise, the photo below shows infill brickwork around original bluestone.
And again, paint finish to the bluestone in the corridors under the dome.
Storage and filing of material uses the dewey decimal system; interestingly, this system was almost not used in preference for an alpha-numeric system more closely aligned with some American libraries. It eventually was settled in Parliament towards the end of the 19th Century, and now is still filed by dewey to this day.
As literature extends beyonds traditional books and print material, alternative ways of filing are used. Here is a photo of sheet music archives under the State Library.
The reinforced concrete dome with glazed panels was once not glazed – original glass panels were not sealed properly and were prone to leaking, forcing the panels to be replaced with plaster. Recent renovations by heritage architects and consultants Lovell Chen towards the start of the 2000′s restored this dome and glazing.
During the renovation, including during the replacement of floorboards, all furniture remained in the hall due to its size.
Art Deco text on a Victoria era door to the LaTrobe Reading Room.
Queen’s Hall interiors have been repainted a vivacious colour scheme, very different from the original scheme. It is in need of much funding to maintain the hall as an event space to code.
If you’d like to know more, either contact the State Library or visit their extensive website
Melbourne Architours runs tours for the period of Settlement to Marvellous Melbourne (1835-1900), some of which feature the State Library. Book here
to reserve your place.