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Frequently asked questions

Opening hours & spaces

What hours is the Library open?

The Library is open for two sessions each day, seven days a week. 

  • Morning session: 10am to 1.30pm
  • Afternoon session: 2.30 to 6pm

Between the morning and afternoon session the Library will close for cleaning and maintenance.

What spaces are open?

These spaces are open to pre-book online:

  • The Information Centre
  • La Trobe Reading Room
  • Redmond Barry Reading Room (Level 3, for pre-ordered collection use only)
  • The Ian Potter Queen's Hall (Level 3 only)
  • Pauline Gandel Children's Quarter (ground floor only)

These spaces are open for walk-up visitors on the day:

  • Cowen Gallery, with the Ask a librarian desk
  • Create Quarter, with free public computers
  • Hansen Hall

These spaces are open to members to pre-book:

  • StartSpace: book using the link in your post-induction email
  • Friends lounge: book using the link in your member newsletter or call 03 8664 7000 and quote your membership number

These spaces are open by appointment only:

  • Newspapers and Family History Reading Room
  • Heritage Collections Reading Room

Please book ahead to ensure a seat on the day of your visit. Walk-up visitors will be signed in as space allows on the day.

You will be allocated to one space for the duration of your booking, during your chosen morning or afternoon session.

Will the galleries be open?

The Library's galleries aren't open yet, but you can continue to explore our galleries and exhibitions online.

Will the children’s area be open?

The Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter will open at reduced capacity. Please pre-book online

The ground floor browsing collection will be open; also, care facilities like the family room, baby change room and kitchenette (with microwave for heating milk) will be available. 

You can continue to access our free children’s programs and learning resources online.

Visiting the Library

Do I need to book?

The Library's booking system helps us safely manage visitor numbers.

Booking in advance will guarantee entry for your chosen morning or afternoon session on the day of your visit. Collection items also need to be requested at least one day in advance for onsite items, to give our staff time to retrieve your items for you.

Please note: a limited number of spaces will be available each session for visitors without pre-bookings. Walk-up visitors will be checked in as space allows.

How do I book a space, service or collection?

You can book online for either a morning or an afternoon session to use available spaces and services, and to access collection items requested in advance.

To make an appointment in the Heritage Collections Reading Room and Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms, please contact us via our Ask a librarian service.

To book into the Friends Lounge, please use the booking link in your Friends of the Library newsletter or call 03 8664 7000 and quote your membership number. 

To book into StartSpace, please use the booking link in your post-induction email.

What do I do when I arrive at the Library for my booked session?

Bring your unique 3-digit check-in code and go to the 'Pre-booked' queue at the Library’s Swanston Street entrance.

Please maintain safe physical distancing of 1.5 metres, even if you are with a group.

Because we need to check in each person individually, please allow extra time for entry.

What if I don’t have access to a computer to book a visit?

If you aren't able to book online, please go to the 'Walk-up' queue at the Swanston Street entrance.

A limited number of spaces will be available each session for visitors without pre-bookings. Walk-up visitors will be admitted as space allows.

Can I come in a group?

Yes, you can visit in a group but each member of the group – including children – must have their own individual booking, and be booked into the same space for the same session. This is so we have a record and contact tracing details for everyone attending, if required.

While inside the Library, please continue to maintain 1.5 metres safe distance from each other.

How do I cancel my booking?

If you can't make it to your booked session, please cancel your booking by following the link in your booking confirmation email. This will make your session available for others.

Can someone else use my booking if I can’t come?

Because we need accurate contact details for all visitors to enable contact tracing if required, you aren’t able to let someone else use your booking. If you’re unable to make it to your booked session, please cancel using the link in your booking confirmation email. This will make your session available for others.

Can I leave during my session and come back?

If you need to briefly leave the Library during your booked session, please speak to staff. Please note you'll need to return to your original booked space when you return.

Can I leave my belongings to save my place?

State Library Victoria is not responsible for your personal items if you leave them unattended. If you need to visit the toilets or speak to staff, please let a staff member or security guard know.

Can I move between spaces?

You can leave your space to use facilities like bathrooms, but please let staff or security know. You'll need to return to your original seat afterwards.

Can I sit next to my friends and family?

Friends and family can sit near each other while maintaining a distance from each other of 1.5 metres. Furniture, including chairs and tables, need to stay in place to ensure safe distancing for all visitors.

Are there restrictions on numbers inside the Library?

Capacity will change at each stage of our reopening. Up-to-date numbers are displayed on our booking calendar when you book a study space.

Facilities, services & amenities

Can I use the printer/photocopier/scanner?

Yes, staff-mediated print services are available. 

For your safety and to help minimise common touchpoints, please ask a staff member to assist with printing, copying and scanning.

Can I use the public computers?

Yes, you may use a computer with internet access for one session (maximum three-and-a-half hours) per day.

You can book a computer session via the 'Walk-up' queue when you arrive at the Library. Public computers can't be pre-booked.

Computers are located in the Create Quarter, on the ground floor. Computer equipment will be cleaned between uses.

We encourage you to bring your own device if you have one, and use the Library's free wi-fi.

Can I use the assistive technology?

Yes, two computers with assistive technology are available in the ground floor Information Centre.

Their features include screenreaders, text-to-speech software, magnification and an alternative mouse or keyboard.

To use these, please book a space in the Information Centre.

If you need assistance with your booking, please contact Library staff on 03 8664 7000.

Can I book a meeting room?

Meeting rooms are not currently available due to safe distancing requirements.

Can I use the lockers?

For your safety and to minimise common touchpoints, lockers will not be available for now.

Can I sit somewhere with a power point?

Yes, we have some power points throughout our spaces. Please choose a seat near a power point when you arrive at your study space.

Will the onsite cafes and bookshop be open?

Mr Tulk cafe is open and can be entered from Entry 2 on La Trobe Street. The internal entry to Mr Tulk will be closed, to help safely manage visitor movement and room occupancy.

Guild cafe and Readings bookshop will reopen in early 2021.

Where can I eat and drink?

Visitors who make a walk-up booking for Hansen Hall can eat and drink in that space. At this stage there are no spaces inside the Library where you can eat.

You can still bring bottled water into the Library.

You can buy and eat food and drink at Mr Tulk. Guild cafe will reopen in early 2021.

Can I use the drinking fountains?

Drinking fountains will be unavailable, to minimise common touchpoints. Please bring your own bottle of water with you.

Will you be holding talks and workshops?

Our programming has gone digital! Check out What's on to view our full program of online talks, workshops and more.

We will explore options for onsite programming, depending on advice from government and Victorian health authorities.

Can I hire a venue for a private event?

Yes, we are able to host events where guest numbers are within the current government guidelines on gathering numbers.

Please contact our venue hire team for more information.

Using the collection

When can I access collection items?

Access to the Library’s physical collection is now available; but you won't be able to browse and retrieve items directly from the collection shelves during this first stage of reopening.

Please search our catalogue to request items.

What are the retrieval times for collection items?

For onsite general collection items, order by 4pm for pick-up from 10am the next day.

For offsite general collection items, order by 4pm:

  • Sunday for pick-up from 10am Tuesday
  • Monday for pick-up from 10am Wednesday
  • Tuesday for pick-up from 10am Thursday
  • Wednesday for pick-up from 10am Friday
  • Thursday for pick-up from 10am Saturday
  • Friday or Saturday for pick-up from 10am Tuesday.

Heritage collections need to be ordered ahead of your visit. Please make an appointment by contacting Ask a librarian or calling 03 8664 7002.

    Should I order collection items before I book a seat?

    Yes. Once you've requested your item through the catalogue, you'll be sent a link to book a seat in the Redmond Barry Reading Room. Please book your seat for the day that your item will be available to collect.

    Do I have to request collection materials even if I can see them on the shelves in the reading rooms?

    Yes, all collection materials will be provided through a staff-mediated service during this first stage of reopening.

    This is because many of our open access shelves are difficult to reach and browse while maintaining a safe physical distance.

    Please search our catalogue to request items on the shelves, and place your order by 4pm for next-day delivery.

    Can I have a collection item held for me to use on multiple days?

    Yes, you can request to have an item held for you for up to seven days. Please talk to a staff member about holding your item and booking another visit within the week. 

    Can I read the newspaper?

    The Newspapers and Family History Reading Room will be by appointment only, for access to collections on microfilm or microfiche. Hard copy newspapers will be provided through a staff-mediated service and will need to be ordered by 4pm for next-day delivery.

    Daily newspapers aren’t available during this first stage of reopening. We will keep you updated on when we can reopen access to the daily newspapers.

    Can I access the Arts Reading Room or use audio-visual materials?

    Because of the potentially greater risk of infection due to the high number of touchpoints on AV equipment in the Arts Reading Room, this room will remain closed for the time being.

    This also means that audio-visual collection material is not available at this stage. We will keep you updated on when we can reopen access to audio-visual collections.

    Can I use the Heritage Collections?

    Heritage Collections items are able to be ordered via a librarian and accessed in the Heritage Collections Reading Room, by appointment, in the usual way. 

    To book your visit and order collection items, please call 03 8664 7002 or email Ask a librarian.

    Can I access Direct Delivery or interlibrary loans?

    Direct Delivery is currently unavailable, but we are planning to resume this service from Monday 7 December.

    Interlibrary loans will be available from Monday 23 November.

    Can I search the Library catalogue?

    You can search the Library catalogue online, using your own device or using a public PC when you arrive.

    If you need assistance, please speak to one of our librarians at the Cowen Gallery 'Ask a librarian' desk.

    Who can answer my research or collection questions?

    The librarians at the 'Ask a librarian' desk in the Cowen Gallery can help you find information. You can also send your requests to Ask a librarian.

    Can I become a Library member?

    Of course! You can join online, or speak to one of our librarians who can do this for you.

    Friends of the Library

    When will the Friends of the Library lounge reopen?

    The Friends of the Library lounge is open!

    Will Friends need to book to use the lounge?

    Yes. The lounge can accommodate a maximum of eight Friends while maintaining safe physical distancing. 

    A morning and afternoon session will be available, as with bookings for the rest of the Library.

    How do Friends book to visit the lounge?

    Friends will need to book using the special link emailed to them in the Friends of the Library enewsletter or can ring 03 8664 7000 to be booked in over the phone, quoting your Friends membership number.

    Show your unique 3-digit booking code when you check in at the Swanston Street Welcome Zone to receive a lanyard to identify you as a Friend of the Library, and a swipe card to access the lounge. (The lanyard is for you to keep and use each time you visit.) Security will check the lounge at the end of each session to ensure the space is cleared for cleaning. 

    Is there a booking limit?

    Yes. Friends will be able to book one session per day, per person.

    Will any lounge facilities be restricted?

    At this stage there will be no newspapers or tea and coffee facilities available, to minimise common touchpoints.

    Health & safety

    What safety and hygiene measures are in place?

    The health and safety of our visitors and staff is our top priority. We are working closely with the Victorian Government and Victorian Chief Health Officer to ensure we are providing a safe space.

    The Library's safety and hygiene measures include:

      • wearing of fitted face masks for all visitors and staff, unless you have a lawful exception 
      • requirement that visitors will remain 1.5 metres distance from each other, in accordance with Victorian Chief Health Officer's guidance
      • limited and timed entry through our online booking system
      • collection handling protocols
      • regular cleaning protocols, with all surfaces in public spaces thoroughly cleaned between uses
      • cleaning of each public computer keyboard and mouse between sessions
      • hand sanitiser available at the entrance and throughout the Library’s spaces
      • hand soap and paper towels in bathrooms, with posters showing how to wash hands thoroughly
      • physical distancing measures with signage indicating safe spacing in queues and between desks
      • requirement that all visitors comply with conditions of entry.


    How does the Library treat my personal information?

    State Library Victoria is required to collect visitor names and a current contact number in accordance with Victorian Chief Health Officer advice (which may change from time to time). To process and validate visitor bookings, we will also ask for a current email address.

    Providing these details is a condition of entry for all Library visitors.

    This information is collected and retained for contact tracing purposes only, and will only be provided to government departments if requested in line with government advice. Your personal information will remain confidential. It will be retained for a minimum period of 28 days in line with government advice. However, it may be retained for a maximum of approximately 60 days based on the automated deletion capabilities of the system the Library will being using to store visitor data in order to comply with public health government direction.

    State Library Victoria manages your information in accordance with privacy legislation and other applicable laws and will only use the information for the purposes for which it was collected.

    For more information, please see our Privacy Statement. You can also contact the Privacy Officer with questions on our privacy policy by emailing