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Library early closure: The Library will close at 5pm on Thursday 23 October to prepare for the annual Keith Murdoch Oration. More information

Facade conservation & repair works: Over the next few weeks there will be intermittent noise in the La Trobe Reading Room while work is carried out on the external walls. More information

Library early closure & facade conservation works
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Fire insurance plans

Fire insurance plans were prepared for insurance companies so they could gauge the fire risk posed by different buildings. The plans were also used to investigate insurance claims.

The plans are extremely detailed and show the buildings' occupants, building materials and fire protection facilities. They are usually known as 'Mahlstedt plans', after the main publishing company that produced them.

An employee of Mahlstedt would visit subscribers when updates to the plans were required and paste in corrected bits of map in the appropriate place. The plans gradually altered over time to reflect current conditions and as a result they cannot be dated with certainty.

The plans were originally bound as enormous books with thick covers held in place with bolts, but we have disbound most of them for conservation reasons.

As they are so detailed, the plans do not cover very large areas. We hold most versions of the volume covering Melbourne's CBD from the years 1888 to 1962, but we also hold a number that show the South Melbourne area. In addition, we hold single editions covering the cities of Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong, as well as a handful of cities from other states. The majority of our Mahlstedt volumes are digitised and available online.

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