Find & request items

The State Library is the major research library for the people of Victoria and holds an enormous amount of material, which can be located through the catalogue or by asking staff.

We are not a lending library, so you can't borrow books to take home. Many items, though, are available for interlibrary loan through other libraries.

Many popular and recently published books and journals can be accessed directly from the open shelves in the public reading rooms.

However, because there are millions of items in the collection, we can’t make everything available in this way. Items that are less frequently used, rare or fragile are kept in special storage areas. This material can be accessed by making requests either through the catalogue or by asking staff.

Accessing items

The catalogue record will tell you how to access an item, and how to put in a request if the item is held in storage.

Online

Items digitised from the Library’s collections (including pictures), and articles from journals, newspapers and magazines are available online. Some material can only be viewed in the Library, but most of it can also be accessed externally, especially if you have registered with the Library as a Victorian resident. You can explore which ejournal, ebook and newspaper titles are available online from our Research tools page.

On the shelves

Many of our books and journals can be found on the open shelves in the public reading rooms.

Stored at the Library

You can request these items yourself using your Library card. Items are delivered to the Information Centre within 30 minutes of request. They can also be requested up to seven days in advance of your visit. If you want to use an item in the evening, make sure you put in a request before 5.30pm.

Stored off site

Some infrequently used materials are stored at our Ballarat warehouse. These items need to be requested by Library staff on your behalf, and one working day's notice is needed. Deliveries to the Library are made only on weekdays. You need to be registered with the Library before off-site items can be ordered.

Off-site material
Pick up Request
Monday to Friday by 5.30pm the day before
Saturday & Sunday by 5.30pm Thursday

Available for viewing by appointment

If your research requires the use of old, rare, fragile or historically significant material such as maps, pictures, original manuscripts or rare books, you must make an appointment with Library staff to view material in the Heritage Collections Reading Room. On weekdays, most heritage items are delivered three times a day.

Heritage material
Pick up Request
Monday to Friday, 10am previous day
Monday to Friday, 1pm by noon
Monday to Friday, 4pm by 3pm
Saturday & Sunday by 3pm Friday

These times do not apply for material from the Pictures Collection, which generally requires 48 hours' notice for retrieval.

Some heritage materials are stored in our Ballarat warehouse and must be requested by Library staff in advance.

Heritage material from Ballarat warehouse
Pick up Request
Monday by 3pm Friday
Tuesday to Friday by 3pm the day before
Saturday & Sunday by 3pm Thursday

Special arrangements may need to be made to view some heritage materials, and staff will advise you if this is the case.