Today marks 60 years of a Geelong Library operating at 49-51 Little Malop Street, Geelong, the site on which the Geelong Library & Heritage Centre currently stands. Read on for a brief overview of the history of the Library.
The Geelong City Library was officially opened by the Victorian Government Chief Secretary Sir Arthur Rylah in August 1959. During its 60 years in operation, it attracted several million visits and loaned more than 10 million books.
Predating the Geelong City Library, the Geelong Free Library opened in the old Chamber of Commerce building (Moorabool St) in 1876, with Council taking over in 1949 and moving the library into the City Hall in 1955.
In 1969 the Geelong City Library housed the Geelong adult and children’s libraries, the film, gramophone record and painting loan departments, the historical section and the administration and processing centres.
The 1959-1960 Geelong City Library Annual Report states “It is a pleasure to report that the well-equipped building, opened last year, has been evident in all aspects of the library’s activities. Such rapid expansion presented problems but they are such as every librarian is glad to meet, as the growing pains of a better service to the community.”
The 1958-1959 Geelong Municipal Library Annual Report paints a vivid picture of the library: “… with its spaciousness, beauty and colourful furnishings, it is outstanding among public library buildings in Victoria, and has become an attraction, not only to the people of Geelong, but also to visitors.”
In 1979, the Geelong Historical Records Centre (as the Geelong Heritage Centre was then named) opened as a newly-added first floor addition to the Geelong Library building.
The Geelong Library and the Geelong Heritage Centre closed in 2013, the building was demolished, and construction of the new Geelong Library & Heritage Centre (‘The Dome’) began, with the iconic facility opening in November 2015. It is already a much-loved addition to the city’s cultural and architectural landscape.
Johnstone Park is a significant site for the Wadawurrung People, the Traditional Owners of the land on which Geelong Library & Heritage Centre is located. The area was used by the Wadawurrung as a wetland (supermarket) where people gathered and lived, accessing the natural resources of the area.
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