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 books on just about every conceivable branch of human knowledge, there are specific subject areas we've focused our collecting 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, the Library has collected, via the legal deposit provision, all books published in Victoria, providing a record of the State's publishing history. We’ve also actively collected everything to do with 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 these can be found by searching the catalogue, either by title, author, subject, or by entering common words or phrases.