Best libraries in Melbourne and regional Victoria

warrnambool library

Danny Baggs

Posted January 08, 2024

Are you an avid reader, a keen researcher or a hardworking freelancer? These top libraries across Melbourne and regional Victoria will keep you cosy and inspired.

Libraries are no longer the silent, dusty spaces you might remember from years past. Today, libraries in Victoria are architectural wonders filled with cutting-edge technology and massive book collections – both traditional and digital. Here are Victoria’s best libraries that combine history, community and literature.

Victoria's best libraries

State Library of Victoria

328 Swanston Street, Melbourne

The State Library of Victoria is our state’s biggest and best-known library, and for good reason. Originally built in the 1850s, the State Library has become a cultural landmark housing millions of books, artworks, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, heritage items and digital materials. The majestic six-story domed La Trobe Reading Room is a particularly iconic sight for Melburnians. The State Library recently underwent a five-year, $88.1 million renovation project to provide new spaces, programs and services like the Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter: a children’s library with pram parking, reading nooks, a massive children’s book collection and a two-level storybook castle. You can find visitors lounging on the sunny lawns outside the State Library on any given day, grabbing a coffee at the onsite café Mr Tulk or picking up a new release at the Readings State Library store.


state library of victoria reading room

The La Trobe Reading Room is a majestic part of the State Library. Image: Visit Victoria. 

Melbourne Athenaeum Library

188 Collins Street, Melbourne

The Athenaeum Theatre on Collins Street, part of Melbourne’s famed East End theatre district is renowned for its stunning interior design and architecture reminiscent of Ancient Greece. But far fewer people know about the Melbourne Athenaeum Library perched above it since 1839. It’s a private library that requires a membership fee ($30-99) to join, but the feeling of being part of a semi-secret bibliophile society is well worth it. Membership gives you access to a refined reading room and a quality book collection – including one of Victoria’s best crime fiction collections – as well as book clubs, screen clubs, music performances, lectures, and other events held throughout the year.


Melbourne Athenaeum Library

Not many Melburnians know about the private Athenaeum Library atop the renowned theatre. Image: Visit Victoria

Geelong Library and Heritage Centre

51 Little Malop Street, Geelong 

Geelong Library and Heritage Centre – more commonly known as “The Dome” – is smack bang in the heart of Geelong’s cultural precinct and is one of the best free things to visit. Its monolithic domed shape is sure to awe newcomers, with five public levels hosting a diverse collection of print, multimedia and heritage items. This is one of Victoria’s most tech-forward libraries, with high-end digital technology like smart tables, 3D printing, virtual reality, gaming machines, and digital wayfinding kiosks. Macs and PCs are also available for public use with free Wi-Fi. Parents will especially enjoy the entire floor dedicated to children and youths, with age-appropriate collections and activity spaces. And there are plenty of events for children and adults alike, from toddler reading sessions to craft-ernoons. After picking up your books, you can enjoy food, coffee and wine from Public Café at the Dome, which has a lovely outdoor deck area overlooking Johnstone Park.


Geelong Library or The Dome

It's easy to see why Geelong Library is called The Dome. Image: Supplied

RACV City Club Library

501 Bourke Street, Melbourne

The RACV City Club Library is a cosy reading and research nook full of non-fiction titles on motoring, sport, finance, food and wine, walking and travel, and much more. The library also hosts over 900 rare books on motoring and military history, with some titles over 100 years old. There are fiction and children's books are well if you're after a lighter read. A dedicated computer room and free Wi-Fi rounds out this distinguished library for digitally inclined visitors. The RACV City Club Library also regularly hosts art talks and is a popular venue for wedding ceremonies.

Club members staying at the RACV Healesville Country Club can access another library onsite, which specialises in tomes on golf, gardening, sport, travel and local history.


Bunjil Place Library, Narre Warren

1A/2 Patrick NE Drive, Narre Warren

Nestled in Melbourne’s eastern suburb Narre Warren, the Bunjil Place Library is a beautiful three-storey library with an authentic community atmosphere. Its outdoor reading garden is a peaceful place to catch up on some reading in the sunshine. Children have the whole ground floor to themselves, with bean bags, games and plenty of picture books and chapter books. Just a short walk away is an art gallery, theatre, studio, café and plaza with a giant outdoor screen that showcases everything from film festivals to live music events. In 2023 Bunjil Place Library will add baby, toddler and pre-schooler programs to its repertoire, plus a kids’ book club, LEGO club, craft club, and STEM club.


Bunjil Place Narre Warren

Bunjil Place Library in Narre Warren is highly aesthetic. Image: Supplied

Wodonga Library Gallery

126 Hovell Street, Wodonga

Art meets literature at Wodonga Library Gallery (also called Hyphen) in the state’s north-east: a full library that doubles as an art gallery. Along with the usual fiction and non-fiction, Hyphen offers a range of large print books, plus borrowable eBooks and audiobooks via BorrowBox. Wodonga residents who can’t make it to the library due to poor health or disability can have material delivered to their door fortnightly using the free home library service. Regular library users can hire meeting rooms, join a book club, or attend all sorts of fun activities like drawing sessions, LEGO free play, or coding workshops.


Warrnambool Library and Learning Centre

8 Kepler Street, Warrnambool

The new Warrnambool Library and Learning Centre, found in the beautiful coastal city of Warrnambool on the Great Ocean Road, opened in October 2022 after a $20.25 million upgrade. It’s four times the area of Warrnambool’s previous library, with views to the ocean, an agora staircase, gardens, an onsite café, bookable meeting rooms, and dedicated areas for children, youths, tech, and quiet reading. Everyone is welcome at this public library, which is full of books, magazines, newspapers, multimedia resources, local history materials and online services for all ages and abilities. Soft lighting and comfy chairs make the Warrnambool Library and Learning Centre a choice place to curl up with your latest read.


Warrnambool Library

The new Warrnambool Library opened in 2022. Image: Supplied

Library at the Dock

107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands

Library at the Dock is three storeys of sustainable engineered timber and reclaimed hardwood with waterfront views. It’s Australia’s first six-star Green Star public building and has won multiple other sustainable design and architecture awards since opening. Inside are more than 200,000 books, hundreds of newspapers and magazines, and massive DVD, CD and eBook collections interspersed with softly lit study spaces and reading areas. Art and technology are front and centre at Library at the Dock, with professional editing suites, a recording studio, music practice rooms, an art gallery, and bookable community spaces. Free workshops, events, clubs and lunchtime concerts run regularly at this Docklands library, and there’s even a ventilated green terrace for yoga, tai chi, table tennis and movie screenings.


Library at the Dock

Library at the Dock in the Docklands precinct has gorgeous waterfront views. Image: Supplied

Melton Library and Learning Hub

31 McKenzie Street, Melton

Melton Library and Learning Hub was the first Australian library to be awarded a five-star Green Star rating for environmental sustainability. This distinctive yellow library opened in 2013, with two floors filled with books, community art, lounge spaces and study tables. Its exposed timber beams and floor-to-ceiling windows make a visit to Melton Library feel peaceful and futuristic all at once. The library is host to a large local and family history collection, including genealogy databases and local history exhibitions. Visitors can also book meeting rooms or recording and editing studios, with a theatrette and communal study spaces nearby. Pop into the library café CommuniTea for a coffee and a bite to each between study sessions.


Melton Library

Melton Library is highly sustainable. Image: Supplied

Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library

182-186 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North

Bargoonga Nganjin means Gather Everybody in the Wurundjeri language Woiwurrung. Since 2017, this North Fitzroy library has indeed been gathering the community at its beautiful rooftop garden, Indigenous language activities, music performances, children’s story sessions, and other events. The library’s flexible learning spaces lend themselves well to quiet study, group discussions, and creative programs. Bargoonga Nganjin’s location in North Fitzroy is culturally significant, since Fitzroy became an important meeting place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the 1920s onward. Fitzroy has since been the birthplace of many important Aboriginal organisations, activism, community and services.


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