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Frequently asked questions

Opening hours & spaces

What spaces are open?

These spaces will open from Saturday 27 June:

  • La Trobe Reading Room
  • The Ian Potter Queen's Hall (level 3 only)
  • Redmond Barry Reading Room (level 3 only)
  • Newspapers and Family History Reading Room (by appointment only)
  • Heritage Collections Reading Room (by appointment only)
  • Friends lounge (members only).

Readings bookshop, Guild cafe and the Russell Street Welcome Zone will reopen from Monday 29 June. These spaces will be accessible through Entry 5 on La Trobe Street (near the corner of Russell Street). There will be no access to the main Library building from the Russell Street Welcome Zone.

What hours will the Library be open?

We are initially opening for reduced hours, from 10am to 6pm daily.

We'll look to extend opening hours and reading room access over the coming weeks, depending on community response and the up-to-date directions from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer.

Will the galleries be open?

The Velvet, Iron, Ashes exhibition has finished and Victoria Gallery will remain closed until the next exhibition is installed in 2021.

Cowen Gallery will be open for viewing and we will look at opening other exhibition spaces in stages over the coming months. You can continue to explore our galleries and exhibitions online.

Will the children’s area be open?

The Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter will reopen at a later stage, depending on health and safety guidelines.

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

Visiting the Library

Do I need to book a visit?

You must book if you want to visit the Library.

This helps us to avoid the disappointment of turning people away because we're already full and allows us to safely manage visitor numbers.

You may book for one session per day, either in the morning or the afternoon:

Morning session: 10am–1.30pm.

Afternoon session: 2.30–6pm.

How do I book a visit?

You can book online for either a morning or an afternoon session.

There is a limit of one session per person, per day.

Bookings are released at 5pm each day, one week in advance.

To make an appointment in the Heritage Collections Reading Room and Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms, please call 03 8664 7002 or email Ask a librarian.

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

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

Please bring your electronic booking confirmation (not a printed copy) with you and line up outside the Library’s Swanston Street entrance.

Safe physical distancing of 1.5 metres should be kept at all times, even if you are with family or friends.

Please be patient if it takes a little more time to enter the Library than usual.

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

If you aren't able to book online, you can wait at the Swanston Street entrance – there are a number of spaces available each session for walk-ins.

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. This is so we have a record and contact details for everyone attending, to enable contact tracing if required.

While inside the Library you'll need to maintain 1.5 metres safe distance from each other.

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

We require an up-to-date record and contact details for everyone attending, to enable contact tracing if required. For this reason, you can’t pass on your booking to someone else if you’re unable to come.

Can I leave during my session and come back?

No pass-outs will be offered. When you leave the Library, your booking will be considered finished and staff may let another visitor use your seat for the remainder of your session.

If you leave during your session and wish to return, you'll need to book a new session for another day.

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 and public computers (with a booking) but please let staff know. You'll need to return to your original seat after you've used the facilities.

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, must not be moved.

Are there restrictions on numbers inside the Library?

Yes, we are adhering to all government guidelines regarding visitor limits.

Our current maximum occupancy is 43 visitors at any one time. There are 26 places available per session to pre-book and a further 17 places available for walk-in visitors.

You will be seated in Hansen Hall for short visits, or the information centre or Create Quarter for longer visits.

The cap on numbers allows us to maintain safe physical distancing.

From Saturday 27 June, our maximum occupancy will increase to 99 visitors at any one time.

Facilities, services & amenities

Can I use the printer/photocopier/scanner?

Yes, print services are available. 

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

Can I use the public computers?

Yes, you will be able to use a computer with internet access for up to 45 minutes.

You can book a computer session once you've arrived at the Library.

We encourage you to bring your own device if you have one, and use our free wi-fi.

Computer equipment will be cleaned between uses.

Can I use the assistive technology?

Yes, two computers with assistive technology are available. Their features include screenreaders, text-to-speech software, magnification and an alternative mouse or keyboard.

To use these, please book in person at the Library.

Can I book a meeting room?

Meeting rooms are not available due to health restrictions as all visitors must sit 1.5 metres from each other while in the Library.

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 power points throughout our spaces. You will need to choose a seat near a power point as you will not be able to move chairs.

Will the onsite cafes and bookshop be open?

Mr Tulk is open from Monday 15 June and can be entered from La Trobe Street (the internal entry to Mr Tulk will be closed, to help staff manage occupancy of the space).

Guild and Readings will reopen on Monday 29 June.

Where can I eat and drink?

You can buy and eat food at Mr Tulk. Guild will also be open from 29 June. At this stage there are no spaces inside the Library where you can eat.

You can still bring bottled water into the Library.

Can I use the bubblers?

Drinking fountains will be unavailable. Please bring your own bottle of water with you.

Will you be holding talks and workshops?

We will explore options for onsite programming over the coming months, guided by the guided by the Victorian Chief Health Officer’s advice.

You can continue to access a full program of free online events.

Can I hire a venue for a private event?

Our commercial venues are closed for the time being, but our venue hire team will happily help you plan your future event.

Please contact our venue hire team for more information.

Using the collection

When can I access collection items?

You will be able to access the Library’s physical collection from 27 June. All collection items will need to be ordered two business days in advance, and you will need to separately book to visit the Library on the same day.

Please request items by:

  • 6pm Monday for use on Thursday
  • 6pm Tuesday for use on Friday
  • 6pm on Wednesday for use on Saturday, Sunday or the following Monday
  • 6pm Thursday for use on the following Tuesday
  • 6pm Friday, Saturday or Sunday for use on the following Wednesday.

Should I book my visit to the Library before I order collection items?

Yes. Please book your visit first, then request your collection items two business days in advance of your booking. This will ensure that you can access both the Library building and your items on the same day. If you book your collection items first, we can't guarantee that a booking will be available to enter the Library on the correct day.

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 – open access collection items will not be accessible to visitors. Staff will retrieve collection items for you after they have been ordered through the catalogue.

Why can't I take a book off the shelf if I can see that it's available?

Much of our open access shelving is difficult to access and browse while maintaining safe physical distance from other visitors. Our priority is keeping our visitors and staff safe, so we have made the decision to provide all collection materials through a staff-mediated service.

Why does it take two days for my items to be available?

We are operating with limited staff numbers onsite during this first stage of reopening, so we need to allow extra time for collection retrievals and returns.

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. You will need to make a separate booking to return to the Library within the week to continue using your held items. Visitors can book one session per day up to a week in advance.

Can I read the newspaper?

The Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms 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 two business days in advance. Daily newspapers aren’t available at this stage. We will keep you updated on when we can reopen access to the daily newspapers.

Can I access the Arts Reading Room?

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 soon.

Interlibrary loans are available.

Can I search the Library catalogue?

Yes, the Library catalogue is available online, either on your own device or on one of our 14 public computers. If you need assistance, please speak to one of our librarians in the Cowen Gallery.

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. Speak to one of the staff members who can show you how to 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 will reopen on Saturday 27 June.

Will Friends need to book to use the Lounge?

Yes. The Lounge can accommodate a maximum of eight Friends while maintaining safe physical distancing. We will use a booking system to help manage visits – five places will be available to pre-book online and three spaces will be available for walk-ins.

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 enewsletter or can ring 8664 7000 to be booked in over the phone.

Show your booking email or Friends membership card when you check in at the front desk to receive a red lanyard to identify you as a Friend of the Library, and swipe card to access the Lounge. Security will check the Lounge at the end of each session to ensure the space is cleared for cleaning, and will collect the lanyards and swipe passes at the exit.

Is there a booking limit?

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

How many people can use the Lounge at once?

Eight people per session will be able to use the Lounge.

Will any facilities be restricted?

At this stage there will be no newspapers or tea and coffee facilities available.

Will memberships be extended to account for the lack of access during COVID-19?

Yes. Friends have been given an automatic three-month extension to their membership. They have been informed of this via email.

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.

To that end, we're introducing measures including:

    • 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 visitors will maintain 1.5 metres distance from each other, in accordance with Victorian Chief Health Officer’s guidance
    • 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, contact numbers and email addresses in accordance with Victorian Chief Health Officer advice. We are merely collecting this and will only provide it to government departments (if requested) for the purpose of assisting with contact tracing, in line with advice by the Victorian Chief Health Officer.

Your personal information will remain confidential and will be stored securely for 28 days, before being deleted.

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 privacy@slv.vic.gov.au.