A year of records for Australia’s most popular state library

Media release

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Monday 25 September 2017


Record crowds attended State Library Victoria last financial year with more than two million visits to the Swanston Street landmark, making it the busiest state library in Australia and one of the most visited libraries in the world.

More than 4 million visited the Library online and almost one million visits were made to the Library’s exhibitions – the most in its 161-year history.

State Library CEO Kate Torney said the results reinforce the importance and relevance of libraries in Victoria.

"Victorians love their libraries – almost half the population has library membership – and these figures demonstrate that State Library Victoria is leading the way in the resurgence of libraries across the state. It’s wonderful that in an internet age, the State Library has never been busier.”

Ms Torney said demand for Library services has increased and the success of the State Library’s exhibitions and programs was bringing new audiences to Australia's oldest public library.

"It reinforces why we are embarking on an ambitious and transformational redevelopment, Vision 2020."

Vision 2020 is an $88.1 million project that will open 40% more space to the public and introduce new services and programs to meet the growing and changing needs of the community.

More than half a million dollars was donated by the public to support Vision 2020, the highest amount the Library has ever raised in a public appeal. This public contribution combined with major gifts to exceed the Library’s $27.7 million Vision 2020 fundraising target.

The Victorian State Government also contributed $60.4 million to the project. Construction on the redevelopment has just begun and will conclude in 2020.

It was also a successful year working closely with Victoria’s library network. The State Library partnered with local libraries around Victoria to deliver the 1000 Books Before School campaign. Over 26,000 children were enrolled in the program which encourages parents and carers to read with their children from birth.

In excess of 83,000 new items were added to the State Collection, including a 19th century goldfields journal; a folio of works by influential printmakers including Rick Amor and Jan Senbergs; theological pamphlets that reflect the ties between religion and politics in England in the 1640s and a further 60,000 images from the iconic Rennie Ellis photography archive.

State Library Victoria’s 2016-17 Annual Report was tabled in Victorian Parliament and is available here: http://bit.ly/2weiXnH