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HOT: Children’s Quarter, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

State Library of Victoria is Australia's oldest and busiest public library and it has reopened the doors after a 5 year, $88.1 million redevelopment.

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Inside you'll discover new spaces, programs and services, including the wonderful Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter, a space for children and families that used to house the popular State Library of Victoria Play Pod.

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The courtyard is now one of four ‘quarters' branching out from The Quad, on the ground floor of the Library. The Quad connects all four of the library's activity courtyards, with the information centre at its heart.

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The Children's Quarter has been transformed into a stunning, two-level space that takes advantage of the building's airy ceilings. There are different ‘zones' within the space, although everything is relaxed and fluid.

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In the corner is the storytelling area, which hosts free weekly storytime sessions.

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The space fits up to 30 children and adults, so it's quite a bit smaller than what used to be used for Baby Bounce and other storytime events. Apparently it's been deliberately designed to be a more intimate experience. Once the full program gets underway in January 2020 you'll have  TEN weekly storytime sessions to choose from, with different sessions aimed at 0-18 months (Baby Bounce), 18 months to 3 years (Toddler Tunes and Toddler Tales ) and 3-5 years (Storytime).

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Next to the storytelling corner is a drop in craft area for young kids…

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….a wet-area ‘maker space' for drop-in and ticketed sessions for kids of all ages…

….a junior readers reading area aimed at 5-7 years olds where Lady AB also discovers the cutest narwhal cuddly toy ever….

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….and books and play aimed at under 5s.

I like how the areas under the stairs have been used as hidey-holes for imaginative and creative play.

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We also love the wombat and elephant sculptures which are bookshelves as well as comfy seating!


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I particularly like the wombat – I think it resembles Bruce Whatley's illustration of Jackie French's classic book Diary of a Wombat!

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There's even a rack of dress-up costumes to spark your imagination!

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On the ground level you'll also find toilets (including a double adult and child toilet), change tables, breastfeeding cubicles with curtains and a microwave. Food and drink are permitted for babies and toddlers.

For everyone's convenience pram parking is also available on the ground floor.

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Upstairs is accessed via stairs or a lift and ramp.

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It's aimed at kids 8-12 years and features lots of worktables and spaces for doing your homework, places to snuggle up with a book while overlooking the courtyard…

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…LEGO play (occasionally, when supervised by a State Library of Victoria staff member)….

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…a BRAND NEW browsing collection of more than 4000 children's books with a focus on Australian and Victoria authors.

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Bookworm Lady AB is in heaven!

We spend so much time in the Children's Quarter that we run out of time to visit the other areas of the State Library of Victoria. Other new spaces include:

  • a revitalised Swanston Street entrance, featuring a new foyer and digital technology;
  • The Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, the Library’s original reading room and one of Melbourne’s most breathtaking heritage spaces, which will act as a reading room by day and an events venue by night. A fleet of conservationists restored ornate gilt and floral decorations in the room's ceilings and along the columns;
  • Hansen Hall, a new space to meet, work and connect;
  • Conversation Quarter, a state-of-the-art public forum for lectures, conferences and workshops;
  • Ideas Quarter, home to StartSpace, a co-working space for start-ups and small businesses;
  • Create Quarter, with spaces for group work and school programs and a calendar of pop-up talks and events; and
  • Victoria Gallery exhibition space.

I LOVE the transformed State Library of Victoria and the emphasis they've placed in nurturing the next generation of readers and learners in the Pauline Gandel Children's Quarter. Don't miss it next time you're in Melbourne CBD!

Click here for more of the best libraries in Melbourne

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I hope this post has helped or inspired you! Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to find out more ways for your family to have fun together!

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Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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