Geelong Library and Heritage Centre

Geelong Library and Heritage Centre
Geelong Library 2015.jpg
Formation1858 (library), 1979 (heritage centre)
HeadquartersLittle Malop St., Geelong
  • Geelong, Victoria, Australia

The Geelong Library and Heritage Centre is a regional library, archive and resource facility in the city of Geelong, Victoria, Australia.[1] Geelong Free Library was begun in 1858.[2] The Geelong Historical Records Centre was established in 1979 as a depository for significant historical records and archives from the district.[3] The centre is a Place of Deposit, as part of the Public Record Office Victoria network of community archives designated for the preservation of Victoria's history.[4] It is described as ...the largest regional archive in Victoria.[5]

Geelong Regional Library

The Geelong Library began in 1858 as part of the Mechanics Institute. It expanded in 1876, when it relocated to a large neoclassical building in Moorabool Street, formerly owned by the Geelong Chamber of commerce.[6] The library moved to a new building in Johnstone Park, designed by Buchan, Laird & Buchan, which opened in 1962.[7]

Geelong Historical Records Centre

Formerly known as the Geelong Historical Records Section, its name was changed in 2003 to the Geelong Heritage Centre. The Geelong Heritage Centre also holds archival and historical records gathered by the Geelong Historical Society,[8] which has also been involved in numerous commemorative events and dedicating monuments[9] and is often cited as the authoritative source on early Geelong people and history.[10][11] including the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Matthew Flinders exploration of the district and climbing of Station Peak.[12]

Geelong Historical Society

The Geelong Historical Society[13] was instrumental in the establishment of the Geelong Historical Records Centre as an approved place of deposit for historic local government records, through a partnership with the Geelong local government and Public Record Office Victoria in 1979.[14] The Geelong Historical Society is an amateur historical society, founded in 1944 to research and publish on the history of the town of Geelong, Victoria and the surrounding district.[15] The minutes and financial records of the society have been preserved at the Geelong Heritage Centre, suggesting the society's origin may date back to 1920.[16] It was at this time that the mayor of Geelong, Howard Hitchcock, proposed that an exhibition of "relics and historical records" be staged at the Geelong City Hall. The exhibition was opened by anthropologist Sir Baldwin Spencer on 27 September 1921, and extended to 14 October. These items formed the basis of the later society's collection.[17] A local historian, Norm Houghton, was instrumental in helping organise the collection.[18]


The Geelong Heritage Centre was temporarily housed in the National Wool Museum, while the new Geelong Library and Heritage Centre was being rebuilt. The new Geelong Library and Heritage Centre,[19] was erected on the site of the former Geelong Volunteer Fire Brigade Station (which was demolished in 1918) and the former library adjacent to the Geelong War Memorial and Geelong Art Gallery.[20][21] The centre's new building, which has been designed by the Melbourne architectural firm, ARM Architecture, features a unique geodesic dome constructed of glass and reinforced concrete, has been described as "... an iconic addition to Geelong's architectural and cultural landscape".[22] The centre covers over 6,000 square metres, and includes a children's exploration and discovery zone, a youth area, as well as a heritage centre repository, which w will hold 120,000 print and multimedia collection items.[23] The cost of the redevelopment has been put at A$45 million.[24] The fractured dome design uses over 400 prefabricated glass-reinforced concrete tiles, which make up the sphere roof, which was described by ARM Architecture technical director Wayne Sanderson as having been ... modelled on the domes of great historical buildings.[25]

The design of the building references the domes of the great libraries of the world, Library of Congress and the State Library domed reading room. Clad in 332 panels of glass reinforced concrete, which ...reinforce the appearance of a geodesic dome and allow the building to harmonise with its surrounding masonry neighbours. These included the classical Geelong Art Gallery and old Geelong Town Hall, the Art Deco courthouse and the brutalist State Government Offices.[26]

The new building was opened by Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons on 21 November 2015.[27]

Holdings and exhibits

The Library and Heritage Centre contains over 1 million items, including a large lending and reference collection and specialist scientific collections such as the John Raddenberry Fern and Lycopod collection.[28] the local history collection is housed in the Vault Kim barne thaliyu on level 3, a dedicated space housing specialist resources for the local history of Geelong and surrounds.[29]

Opening and reception

The opening exhibition in the gallery space was[30][31] 21,000 visitors attended the building in the first week of opening,[32] and 10,000 per week subsequently.[33] The opening was noted in print and electronic media with the focus on the role of the unusual architecture in the revitalisation in Geelong.[34] The building won the 2015 State Award for Excellence by the Concrete Institute of Australia, which recognises significant contributions to technology and design innovation.[35] Additionally, The designing architectural firm, ARM, was praised by the design and architectural community for their work on the Geelong Library and was awarded the Victorian Architecture Medal, the William Wardell Award for Public Architecture and the Marion Mahoney Award in 2016.[36]


  1. ^ Begg, Peter. (1990). Geelong – The First 150 Years. Globe Press. ISBN 978-0-9592863-5-9.
  2. ^ Harvey, J. H. (John Henry) (1875), [Geelong Free Library], retrieved 28 January 2016
  3. ^ Geelong Heritage Centre, About the Centre, History of the Geelong Heritage Centre
  4. ^ Public Record Office Victoria > Community Programs > Places of Deposit
  5. ^ Culture Victoria
  6. ^ "Ibbotson, Charles". Geelong and District. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  7. ^ Sievers, Wolfgang (1962), Main entrance of the Geelong City Library, Johnstone Park, Geelong, designed by architects Buchan, Laird & Buchan, Victoria, 1962, retrieved 28 January 2016
  8. ^ Geelong and District Research and Resources Research Centres
  9. ^ Geelong Sesquicentenary plaque, Monument Australia
  10. ^ see for example – Body at the Melbourne Club: David Burke Bertram Armytage, Antarctica's Forgotten Man Wakefield Press, 2009 pp. 32, 151
  11. ^ Heritage Victoria, SAILORS’ REST ELECTRIC SIGN, 5 June 2014
  12. ^ Talk of the Town. (1952, May 5). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved April 19, 2015
  13. ^ * Geelong Historical Society
  14. ^ Geelong Historical Records Centre
  15. ^ Australian Heritage links and resources
  16. ^ Geelong Historical Society (1920), Minutes & financial records, retrieved 27 March 2015
  17. ^ Peter Mansfield, "The Multiple Births of the Geelong Historical Society", Investigator June 2012 pp.63–70.
  18. ^ Houghton, Norm; Geelong Historical Records Centre (1988), Geelong Historical Records Centre : a foundation history / by Norman Houghton, Geelong Historical Records Centre
  19. ^ Geelong Heritage Centre
  20. ^
  21. ^ 'New CBD library and heritage centre running ahead of time', Johno Nash, Geelong Advertiser. 30 May 2014
  22. ^ Infolink ' Aconex cloud collaboration platform deployed for Geelong Library & Heritage Centre project. 17 April 2015
  23. ^ Geraldine Chua, 'Geelong Library and Heritage Centre by ARM Architecture set to be a local landmark', Architecture & Design 16 January, 2014
  24. ^ Debbie Cuthbertson, Arts Editor, The Age, October 20, 2014
  25. ^ Geelong Library and Heritage Centre on track ANTHEA CANNON, Geelong Advertiser JUNE 10, 2015 p.3
  26. ^ Linda Cheng 'A civic mind: ARM’s Geelong Library and Heritage Centre opens', ArchitectureAU 20 Nov 2015
  27. ^ 'Is this the world's wildest library? Geelong's $45 million 'big brain' about to open up to the world', Debbie Cuthbertson Sydney Morning Herald 9 November 2015
  28. ^ 'Geelong Heritage Centre’s botanicals to benefit from nearly $10,000', Peter Begg, November 3, 2015, Gelong Advertiser
  29. ^ Geelong Regional Libraries, Heritage & research at the library
  30. ^ Robert Nelson, 'Inside the Dome' review: Early warning system becomes a chillingly beautiful cathedral to catastrophe, Sydney Morning Herald 25 January 2016
  31. ^ Bethany Tyler, 'Geelong’s brand new library and heritage centre opens', Geelong Advertiser 22 November 2015
  32. ^ Margaret Linley Geelong Advertiser 30 November 2015
  33. ^ Anthea Cannon 'Geelong Library attracts thousands of visitors each week', Geelong Advertiser 16 January 2016
  34. ^ Cathy Pryor 'A new library and future for Geelong' ABC Radio 'Blueprint for Living' Saturday 19 December 2015 (includes time lapse video of construction
  35. ^ Anna Kosmanovski 'Sphere of Influence', The Weekly Review, 23 September 2015
  36. ^ Atkar Group "ARM wins Victorian Architecture Medal for Geelong Library"

External links

Coordinates: 38°08′43″S 144°21′41″E / 38.145408°S 144.361253°E / -38.145408; 144.361253

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