State Library of Victoria – One of the First Free Public Libraries in the World – Melbourne Walking Tour – Part 2
State Library of Victoria is located at the city centre or central business district of Melbourne, it is specifically found between Little Lonsdale Street and La Trobe Street and between Swanston Street and Russel Street. Swanston Street is a famous street and a major tram track in the city. I used to see and pass the State Library since it’s near in major shopping district and almost surrounded by shopping malls, markets and stores. The library can be easily reach since its major train station which is Melbourne Central has exit in Swanton Street and on its front is also a tram station. This means anyone whom lost in this area will definitely not going to miss the library.
State Library of Victoria from Swanton Street (photo captured via my old mobile iPhone 3GS)
The facade of building shows the Neo-classical architectural design which I commonly found either in a classic museum or typical library. At first I thought that only members can go inside and can borrow books in the library until one of my friends that I met in Melbourne told me that anyone can go inside and read books but to loan or to bring the book outside the library requires registration or membership.
My visit to the library was second time. The first time was not so elaborate because I was with a friend whom just need to do something a bit inside the library. This story tells my second time visit.
It’s one of the weekday when I visited the building where the open hours is longer than weekend. From the tram station. I crossed the road and there I saw architectural fragment. As per library’s official website, the architectural fragment sculpture depicts the great institution ruins displayed at the corner between Swanton Street and La Trobe Street which before I am not aware of or probably I didn’t notice it. I passed the lawn area at the front of the building. Then, I saw the statue of Sir Redmond Barry (Doctor of Laws and Judge of Supreme Court) which stands in the middle front of the building. I continued my walk until I reached the entrance of the building.
I went inside the library and there I saw the sofas that compliments the style of the building and the building information desk. I went straight to the center of building ground where the library information desk is located, they called the area as TIC (Trescowthick Information Centre). At the front of the librarian I asked where to get the history books of Australia. I remembered that the librarian asked me of which specifics of history I was looking for and I told them at least the general history of Australia. I was not sure if the librarian noticed me if I really intended to read books. Anyway, she gave me an instructions and I listened to her. After talking to the librarian I looked around and I saw that lots of people coming to the library and I can see the library is not outdated on its ambiance because aside from some cabinets of books that visible in the area, there are lots of tables and chair with computer monitors on it which used for digital research and for digital content of the library. The ground floor has walkway at the center towards the next floor. As I observed the ground floor, the area is somewhat octagonal shape. At first I did not know that the ground area is already part of the dome of the building itself until I saw the dome building design plan.
I continued my walk, then I went upstairs until I reached the area where some exhibits displayed. The area of exhibit is called Cowen Gallery where I witnessed oil painting displays. After enjoying the paintings display for sometime, I took one of the stairs besides the elevators in the middle of the gallery to see more of the state library.
I went up to the next floor and I reached the area of La Trobe Reading Room where the dome itself is visible. When I saw the dome, I forgot that I was there to find history books and to read few pages. I was amazed and stunned on the room that I just saw. I went inside the dome and look for the area where I can find some historical books. When I’m browsing the books, there are lots of historical books available and I got confused what to pick. I walked back again to the cabinet which I already passed and looked again. I found one book, I took it and I looked for a chair to sit. I was amazed because even the seats are classic chairs which only signifies that those seats has been there for so long.
I read the book intently and after an hour, I stopped reading and before I left the reading room I took some photos of the stunning library reading room.
Snapshots of La Trobe Reading Room
State Library Dome Marker
After seeing the dome itself, I felt content with myself as I saw the dome of State Library with my own eyes. I was fascinated to witness such grandeur library not only because of its architectural design but also because the library itself stands as historical building that went through times. I looked at the building as legacy of Melbourne itself.