Hello. The Library first opened in 1856 – the first free public Library in Australia – and housed a modest collection of 4000 books.
Today the State Library is home to more than two million books and serials, one of Australia's largest newspaper collections, hundreds of thousands of pictures, maps, manuscripts and artefacts, and a range of materials in digital and multimedia formats – collections that continue to grow through purchase, legal deposit and donation.
I am pleased to report that over the last 12 months, the Library has:
- experienced a 20 per cent increase in physical visits to the site – up now to one-and-a-half million
- experienced more than seven million visitors to the library online and
- enjoyed record attendances at its events and exhibitions
The highlight of our exhibition program was The medieval imagination, the Library's first international exhibition.
It brought to Melbourne the largest exhibition of illuminated manuscripts ever seen in Australia and, with 110,000 visits, was the most attended exhibition in the Library's history.
The Library's increased patronage – both onsite and online – has presented us with the challenge of how to maintain, for our Library users, the highest levels of service delivery.
In this annual report you'll find details on two projects, slv21 and slv@swanston, that deal directly with these challenges.
You'll also see that an impressive 96 per cent of Library users surveyed say they were satisfied with their Library experience.
We continue to make the State Library a welcoming, lively and well-appointed public space, conducive to learning, research, interaction and reflection.
The Library increased its commitment to reader development and community outreach, taking our collections, people and skills right across Victoria through programs such as Reading Victoria, Travelling Treasures, Bookgigs, Memory Victoria and, among others, the Young Readers program.
I am particularly pleased that over the last 12 months, we have strengthened our engagement with Victorian schools and Victorian students. Over 35,000 students from around Victoria attended education programs at the Library.
We also launched a valuable online education resource: Ergo, a website that introduces secondary students to primary source material, offers interviews with writers and scholars, and provides guides to research and essay writing.
The Library's many successes this year are due, as always, to its people and supporters, and I thank them all. With their energy, expertise and commitment, we enter a new year with purpose and resolve.
Meanwhile, please explore our annual report and the rich resources of the State Library of Victoria – here online, or in person in Melbourne.
We look forward to welcoming you.