Building a new world: a history of the State Library of Victoria 1853–1913
Author: Harriet Edquist
Publisher: State Library Victoria
For the young colony of Victoria, the 1850s was a time of optimism and hunger for social change. One of the era's grandest innovations was the building of Australia’s first public library.
The Melbourne Public Library (as it was then known) was envisaged as a pantheon of the world’s knowledge, open to any citizen over the age of 14 – provided they had clean hands – and offering free access to self-education unmatched by any other public institution in the nation.
This colourful tale of a century of institutional and architectural reform provides a fascinating insight into the development of Melbourne as Australia’s cultural capital.
Harriet Edquist is Professor of Architectural History and Director of the RMIT Design Archives at RMIT University, Melbourne.