State Library Victoria, the oldest and busiest public library in Australia, is a founding institution and cultural anchor in Melbourne. It provides spaces for learning and exploration to all citizens and leads the preservation of the state's heritage for future generations.
In its many incarnations over the years, the library has continually provided a unique place for all Victorians to enjoy access to knowledge and engage with collections that reflect their shared history and inspire the future. However, comprised by 23 buildings in total, visitors experienced the library through a confusing sequence of spaces that made it easy to leave the building without being fully aware of its diverse offerings.
To bring State Library Victoria into the 21st
century, a five-year redevelopment plan was launched, and in 2019 the library reopened its doors to the public, revealing an extensively transformed institution. The refurbishment respects the library’s authenticity and rediscovers its existing qualities by enhancing the historical characteristics. In putting the user experience at the centre, a series of co-creation workshops during the design process engaged the users directly in the redevelopment of their library. Inputs and feedback gave valuable insights, which helped inform the design. With a clear hierarchy of thresholds and spaces, the various zones are now both physically and visually connected and creates a more holistic journey through the building. The design emphasises free access to knowledge, encourages curiosity and exploration of ideas and theories.
Today, State Library Victoria provides an open, accessible, and welcoming place for all ages and cultural backgrounds. As a memory institution, it has reinforced Melbourne's position as a UNESCO City of Literature and its reputation as a world-class centre for culture, arts, and events holding a vital role as custodian of the past and curator or the future.