When the Library first opened its doors to the public in 1856, there were 3846 books on its shelves. We have grown a lot since then, and today we hold over two million books in the collection.
While we have collected books on just about every conceivable branch of human knowledge, there are specific subject areas we've focused on: art, literature, music, architecture, government and law, science and technology, war, sport and games, film and performing arts, children's books and the history of the book.
Since 1869, via the legal deposit provision, the Library has collected all books published in Victoria, providing a record of the State's publishing history. We’ve also actively collected everything relating to Australia and its history.
Books on Australian literature and history can be found on the shelves of the La Trobe Reading Room, while books on international topics can be browsed on the shelves of the Redmond Barry Reading Room. There is also a special reading room devoted to the arts and performing arts.
Remember that many of the Library’s books are kept in closed storage areas, and can be found by searching the catalogue. You can search by title, author or subject, or by entering common words or phrases into the search field.
The Library also collects ebooks and has commenced digitising key Victorian historical works from our print collections, such as Edmund Finn's Garryowen sketches.