One of our favourite libraries in Melbourne is The Library at the Dock at Victoria Harbour, Docklands. If ever a library was sexy, this is it.
On various visits it has never been used to capacity, which is a shame as it’s an amazing space for young and old.
The outside of the building is Buluk Park. It contains a unique playground which keeps the kids amused for quite a while such that they actually forget there was a library to visit.
There are two primary-colour structures which are almost brutalist in their architecture, with hidey holes, coloured panels and sensory play elements throughout.
It’s unlike most plastic/wood/metal structures you see around the traps and there are no swings and only one slide.
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Nevertheless, there’s lots to explore in the maze-like forts and there is a small water play area for hot days.
Once you enter the building it’s absolutely stunning. The Library at the Dock is Australia’s first 6-Star Green Star rated public building and is built mostly of engineered timber and reclaimed hardwood.
Beams run down the length of the building and natural sunlight glints off the harbourside setting along its 55m length. The view and the structure reminded me of some of the waterfront buildings I visited in Scandinavia.
Even the return chute is entertaining, with automated conveyor belts sorting each item into the right bucket.
The children’s section is enormous and delightfully designed. The spiralling, curved bookshelves display books with their titles facing forward and seats are integrated into the shelving.
In the quiet corner there’s also grandstand style benches/shelving for reading, a couple of big beanbags and some toys.
In addition there are a few large screens mounted on the wall for educational games and a Kids Own Publishing interactive screen set into a large table.
If you can drag yourself from the children’s library or boat-watching from the windows check out the top floor, which has two table tennis tables, comics, a playstation, DVDs and arts books. The Egg chairs have built in speakers and are very comfortable for a little cosy nap!
The Library at the Dock aims to be more than a library. In addition to the traditional library collection, there is a recording studio, creative editing suites, community spaces, a gallery and exhibition space and a performance space. There’s also a small inhouse cafe so you don't even have to leave to eat!
Finally, the library runs free storytime sessions every week. Baby storytimes for 0 to 18 months (Songbirds) are every Wednesday 10:30am, a 18month old – 3 year old storytime (Stompers) is on every Monday 10:30am and storytime for preschoolers is every Friday 10:30am.
Even if you're not a Docklands local, The Library at the Dock is worth a special trip. And best of all it's free!
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- membership to City of Melbourne libraries is free. Just need to show photo ID and proof of address;
- membership allows borrowing of up to 30 items;
- facilities include two table tennis tables, comics, a playstation, DVDs, recording studio, creative editing suites, community spaces, a gallery and exhibition space and a performance space;
- bring a change of clothes if your kids can't resist water play!;
- there's a small cafe within the library but it seems to be closed a lot of the time. Our preferred eating spot is Saluministi on the corner of Bourke Street and Buluk Park;
- Also visit the Knowledge Market creative hub for book swapping, workshops and creative space;
- Parking is limited, there is paid street parking in Bourke Street and Collins Street;
- Stop D18 on Tram #11 and #48;
- Bike paths and bike parking available.