Weekend Wanderings: State Library of Victoria


Last weekend I got to experiment with the fisheye at the State Library of Victoria. When I was first loaned the Samyang 12mm fisheye lens I knew that I wanted to try it out at the library. It is one of those places that has a massive space and trying to fit it into a photo is very hard. This wasn’t a problem with the fisheye.

The State Library is located at 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne.


The Domed Reading Room is one of those rooms that when you walk into it for the first time you say, oh wow. It is amazing.

Bit of History

The State Library of Victoria first opened in February, 1856, as the Melbourne Public Library. It was also the first exhibition centre, the National Gallery, and the Melbourne Museum. The others have since vacated and now the building is just for the library and it’s 2 million plus books.

The Domed Reading room is a 20th century addition and was built on the place that had the building for the exhibitions. That was demolished and this built instead. The reading room opened in 1913.

It is now called the La Trobe Reading Room, but before recent renovations it was the reference reading room and all those areas you can see above and where I’m standing were referred to as the stacks. The books were kept there. I worked there for a short time at the end of the 1980’s. Part of my job was to get books from the stacks for people who wanted them and then putting them back afterwards. It was one of the best jobs I ever had.

When they restored the building the reading room got the glass panels in the ceiling, which were in the original design, but have only been added recently. When I worked there there was no glass.

Photography in the Library

Photography is allowed. You can now go up to the stacks to take photos. Flash is not allowed, for obvious reasons. You must remember that it is a working library. You are not allowed to take photos of the people studying. It is hard not to get them, but they shouldn’t be the focus of your photos. I’ve heard small tripods are allowed, but perhaps it is best not to use them.

Opening hours

The Domed Galleries, or stacks are open everyday from 10am to 5pm.

The library is open everyday from 10am, closes at 9pm, except for Friday to Sunday when it closes at 6pm.

If you want more information then take a look at their website, click here.

My Visit

I wandered around the Domed Galleries taking photos with the Fisheye to see what I could capture. It was a lot of fun. I also tried some artwork as well.

The Fisheye

The lens will be going back soon, but it has been great trying it. I’ve wanted to play with a fisheye for a few years now. It’s been great to see what you can do with it. It has also been challenging and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy that. I really enjoy playing with new equipment.

Here is a gallery with more images from the library. Let me know if you like this sort of format for the Weekend Wandering posts. I thought I would try giving you more information on where I’ve been.


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  1. In all the years I lived in Melbourne I never got to the state library! Silly me! Great pics Leanne

    1. I think because of where it is in the city it isn’t one that people think of. It is a great building, you will have to take a look next time. Thank you.

  2. Oh such fun you’ve had Leanne . I love the *intellectual spider’s web you’ve caught with SO many people READING …
    The fisheye lens seems perfect for these great shots of such a splendid building !

    1. I did Louise, oh yes, what a great description of it, love that, “intellectual spider’s web” it really is like that. It is, it worked really good for a place like this, it is big and the lens captures that big part. Thanks Louise.

  3. I love these shots Leanne. It was a perfect place for the fisheye.
    I had a similar role in the old British Library Reading Room when I was young! It is stunning too but not readily open to the public now.
    I was already very tempted to get a fisheye, and you have made me even more tempted.

    1. It was Debbie, really perfect.
      That’s a shame it isn’t so open, I’m glad they did that with ours.
      That’s great to hear, it is a lot of fun, you can use it on many things.
      Thanks Debbie.

  4. Wow fantastic photos! Gorgeous Library sweetie! I would love to see that in person some day! Have a great week! Hugz Lisa and Bear

  5. I really like how you worked with the fisheye Leanne. You’re right about the doomed reading room. Wow.

  6. Superb shots, Leanne. That looks to be a truly magnificent building and not just because I love libraries. I love seeing all the details in your images.

  7. great shots, inspiring Leanne. one day, I will – get to Melbourne and do a proper look around and not be rushed! I’d like to see the sights, the beauty that is there. I see it, from your eyes. Thank you for sharing! cheers, Debi

    1. it would be lovely to meet you in person for tea and a chat, Leanne. I’d really like to SEE the city, not just pass through. Thank you! 🙂

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