St Kilda Library milestone set in stone

City of Port Phillip
St Kilda Library is celebrating a major milestone on Wednesday 24 August and everyone is welcome to join the fun.

The event commemorates the 50th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone in 1972 by then Mayor Ivan Trayling.

Mr Trayling will be among the guests at the 50th Anniversary Commemoration at St Kilda Library from 11-11.30 am (no bookings required). There will be plenty of opportunities to swap memories over morning tea after viewing an exhibition and digital presentation showcasing the evolution of the Library.

Many Library patrons would be unaware of the more than 100 years of community advocacy behind the birth of this much-loved landmark, designed by the late award-winning architect Enrico Taglietti.

There were calls from 1860 for a free public library, including by the St Kilda Library Promotion Committee in 1953 and the St Kilda Library Establishment Committee.

In a bookish throwback to Footloose, the then St Kilda Council cited fears that reading fiction would encourage juvenile delinquency when refusing to provide a public library in the 1950s. There were also concerns about the necessity, expense and impact on private lending library businesses.

Mr Trayling was the catalyst for change when elected to Council in 1967 after vocally campaigning for a library. That year, the Council set aside $50,000 for library works and Mr Trayling headed a new library sub-committee which recommend a library be built on properties opposite the Town Hall.

The rest is history with newspaper articles lauding the $1 million library as the finest in Australia when it opened in 1973. Its stunning design, air-conditioning and photocopier were all remarked on and it was the first municipal library to open on Sundays.

In the early 1990s, Melbourne architecture firm Ashton Raggatt McDougall provided a new entrance wing as well as redefining the façade facing Carlisle Street with a distinctive bluestone “book”.

Mayor Marcus Pearl said: “From its origins as a repository for physical books, this fantastic resource has expanded to also offer the digital knowledge, technology and social connection sought by our community. From book readings and author talks, book clubs for adults, kids and teens, film screenings, storytime and even teddy bear picnics there is something for everyone to enjoy.”|

Mr Trayling, who is no longer a Port Philip resident, was delighted with how the Library has developed over the past half century when he popped by a few months ago.

“It’s very much alive, it’s got a wonderful feel about it – it’s inviting,” he said.

“A library is like the heart of the body in a community. It just makes everything work and is open to everyone.”

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