State Library of Victoria

Corner Swanston and Latrobe Streets, MELBOURNE
Phone: (03) 8664 7000
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The State Library of Victoria is the major reference and research library in Victoria. It opened in 1856 and is one of Australia's oldest cultural institutions. The library building is one of Melbourne's most distinctive landmarks.

As Victoria's major public reference and research library it is responsible for collecting and preserving Victoria's documentary heritage, and making it available through a range of services, exhibitions and public programs.

The Library comprises 17 buildings covering an entire city block, an area of approximately seven acres. In 1990 an extensive building redevelopment program began which has seen the refurbishment of the Library's magnificent heritage architectural features, such as the Domed Reading Room. The Library maintains strong links with the statewide public library network and is an active member of peak industry bodies, including the Council of Australian State Libraries and the Australian Library and Information Industry Association.



Our Collection

"This Victorian State Collection is managed by the State Library of Victoria (SLV), one of Australia's oldest cultural institutions and the library building is one of Melbourne's most distinctive landmarks. The collections include over two million books and serials, hundreds of thousands of pictures, one of Australia's largest newspaper collections, maps and manuscripts, letters and diaries, ephemera, music scores and sheet music, realia, zines, comics and graphic novels e-resources, and large holdings of audio, video and digital material ? all reflecting the culture of Victoria over the past 150 years. Collection strengths include: Architecture, art, Australian history, British colonial history, business and industry, children?s books, family history, film and performing arts, government and law, history of the book, journeys and exploration, Koori Victoria, literature, music, plants and gardens, science and technology, sports and games, and war. The major sub-collections include: Arts: Comprising materials from the worlds of music, theatre, dance, magic, cinema, crafts, television, radio, and the visual arts. Australian History and Literature: Includes biography, history or literature, either published in Australia, substantially about Australia, or written by an Australian author. Australian Manuscripts: Contains a wide range of handwritten, typescript, electronic and other forms of unpublished text records and documents, including the personal papers of individual men and women. Newspapers: One of the largest and most significant in Australia, comprising Victorian, Australian and overseas material. Pictures: Comprising visual works and realia documenting the history of Victoria and its people from the early years of the colony to the present day. Genealogy: This collection brings together key Australian materials relating to genealogy. While focusing mainly on materials from Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the Library's Genealogy Collection also reflects Victoria's growing ethnic diversity through its Greek, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Jewish records. Rare Printed: Comprises books (Australian and non-Australian), children?s literature (published between the 16th and 21st centuries) and maps(with a primary focus on Australia and especially Victoria). Redmond Barry: Provides access to information covering Business, Law, Government, Humanities, Social Sciences, Science, Technology, Sport and Recreation, including Australian and international materials. "

This Victorian State Collection is of international, national, and state significance as a resource for research, public education and entertainment.

Subcollections
Australian History and Literature

This collection holds biography, history and literature, either published in Australia, substantially about Australia, or written by an Australian author. Strengths of the collection include: exploration history, war histories (including personal war experiences, battalion and regiment histories), popular magazines, school magazines, political ephemera, theatre programmes and material on Victoria’s indigenous population. It’s greatest strength, due to the legal deposit legislation of 1882, is material published in Victoria. Collected in many formats, including online publications, the library holds the most complete archive of Victorian publishing offered by any library.

Australian Manuscripts

This collection contains a wide range of handwritten, typescript, electronic and other forms of unpublished text records and documents, including the personal papers of individual men and women. The State Library collects only private (non-government) archives and provides one of the few repositories for the preservation of and access to such material. Strengths and outstanding material include: early Port Phillip material; papers and journals relating to the European settlement of Victoria and the growth of the pastoral industry; diaries and letters from World War 1; records from the Victorian branches of both the Australian Labor Party and Democratic Labor Party; the Coles Myer archive; the papers of B. A. Santamaria; the papers of academic and author Stephen Murray-Smith; and the records of the Victorian Artists Society.

Newspapers

This collection is one of the largest and most significant in Australia, comprising Victorian, Australian and overseas material. There are nearly 100,000 volumes, 40,000 reels of microfilm, and a wide range of newspaper content available through online databases. While the Library continues to collect Victorian newspapers and most major Australian newspapers in print form, there has been a change in policy in recent years to provide access to as many newspapers as possible via electronic databases. Due to legal deposit legislation of 1882, the SLV has collected almost every newspaper published in Victoria since that time. Other strengths and outstanding material include: A selection of Victorian papers printed between 1836 and 1880; interstate newspapers include some of the first editions produced in New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland as well as microfilm versions of interstate dailies; overseas newspapers include papers originating from former British Commonwealth countries and long runs of The Times (London) and The New York Times.

Pictures

This collection documents the history of Victoria and its people from the early years of the colony to the present day. It is the primary public collection recording through visual means the history of Victoria. Started in 1859 with a series of commissioned photographs by a local photographer, this collection is the oldest of its type in Australia. Items include paintings, drawings, prints, cartoons, photographs, sculpture, architectural drawings, posters, postcards, printed ephemera and a small number of realia. All contain information about the cultural, geographical, historical and sociological development of Victoria. Images range from interiors and exteriors of public and private buildings, to methods of transport, aspects of social and family life, the evolution of costume and variations in dress, portraits of Victorians in public and private life, and the development of cities and towns. The historical depth of the collection is its key strength. Other strengths and outstanding material include: very early photographs and works such as the first public commissions of photographs for Victoria; Black Thursday, The Burial of Burke, portraits of Sir John O’Shanassy, John Pascoe Fawkner and Mrs Fawkner by William Strutt, Terrinallum Homestead by Louis Buvelot. There is a related collection of realia, which includes the Kelly armour.

Genealogy

This collection brings together key Australian materials relating to genealogy. It is the starting point for all genealogical research at the State Library of Victoria, providing the means to locate individuals - from all levels of society - in a particular place, at a particular time. While focusing mainly on materials from Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the Library's Genealogy Collection also reflects Victoria's growing ethnic diversity through its Greek, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Jewish records. Most of the collection is in microform – films and fiches and increasingly on CD-ROM or subscription on line services. This collection is considered to be the best general genealogy collection in a public library in Australia.

Rare Printed

This collection comprises books, children’s literature and maps. Rare Books comprises two major collections - one Australian, the other non-Australian. The former, established in 1965, is one of the most complete collections of Australian books in the country. The latter, established almost 20 years later in 1981, brings together more than 19,000 non-Australian books that have been in the Library since the 19th century. These include 12,000 books that were printed before 1800. The Children's Literature collection comprises over 84,000 books published between the 16th and 21st centuries, draws together the Children’s Literature research sub-collection, the Ken Pound sub-collection of Australian children’s Literature and Rare Children’s Book sub-collection. The Map sub-collection containing over 100,000 items with a primary focus on Australia and especially Victoria. This is one of the three best rare book collections in Australia and the most comprehensive collection of Australian children’s books in the country. Other strengths and outstanding material include: Scriptores Historiae Augustae (1492) an illuminated manuscript made for Lorenzo de Medici; The Mirrour of the Worlde (1490) translated and printed by William Caxton, the first illustrated book printed in England and the only complete Caxton in Australia; Birds of New South Wales (1813) by John Lewin, the first illustrated ornithology in Australia and one of only 13 copies remaining; Encyclopédie Méthodique (1751-1772) edited by Denis Diderot – the first great encylopeadia and a masterpiece of the Enlightenment; Ulysses (1922) James Joyce, a first edition limited to 100 copies printed on hand made Dutch paper and signed by the author (held by the Library since date of publication – a curious fact since the book was banned in Australia!).

Redmond Barry

This collection provides access to information covering business, law, government, humanities, social sciences, science, technology, sport and recreation. It includes Australian and international materials. Journal and periodical collections are a strength of the collection and include print and online serials that cover a vast range of subjects with depth in key areas of social inquiry, business statistics and legal resources. The collection also offers online electronic resources providing access to more than 30,000 full-text serials and more than 100 databases, many of which are available remotely to Victorians who are registered users of the library.

Arts

This collection brings together materials from the worlds of music, theatre, dance, magic, cinema, crafts, television, radio, and the visual arts. This is the largest publicly accessible arts collection in Victoria containing a wide range of materials in a variety of formats. These include books, journals, recorded music, musical scores, sheet music and ephemera. There is also a large selection of arts-related dictionaries, encyclopaedias, online and electronic databases, indices and directories. Best collection of its kind in Australia, and has significant international depth. Strengths and outstanding material include: rare early arts journals in complete series, the Alma conjuring collection, limited edition fine arts books from 18th and 19th centuries, rare and in some cases unique musical recordings, rare and unique scores, theatre, exhibition and performance programs, indices for artists and performers.


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