The State Library is a sight to behold, especially at night. It holds over a million books on every single conceivable topic.
The Redmond Barry Reading Room is an incredible place to sit, breathe, read and people-watch.
Membership is free.
Inaugurated in 1854 and designed by Joseph Reed (Melbourne Town Hall and the Royal Exhibition Centre), the first part of the State Library opened in 1859.
Whilst huge, the original plan was never realised due to money running out, with the domed reading room opening in 1913. Until the National Gallery of Victoria moved out in the 1960s, the State library housed the collection and more space was created when the Melbourne Museum moved in the 1990s.
Nowadays, following major renovations between 1990 and 2004, the State library is one of the largest exhibiting libraries in the world (including its own collection of art), holds more than 1.5 million books and, in 2010, saw the opening of the Wheeler Centre, part of the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature initiative.
The State Library is an imporant landmark in Melbourne. This impressive building dates back to 1854. A dome was added to the top of it in 1913. This area is a reading room.
Set in lovely leafy surroundings in the heart of the City Centre, one of the most visited exterior features is a sculpture depicting the library building sinking into the ground. Quite remarkable.
The State library houses all the relevant information and documentation which are the history of Victoria.
Another attraction that's free to visit - much more than a historic library, it's also features some rooms which are art galleries with Australian/Melbourne collections, and lots more.
Outside there are some nice statues and works of art, and a grassy lawn area to sit on.
As a student studying in the city, I have used the State Library a number of times, both for actual study and just to escape from the cold/rain etc (for those of you from other countries - yes it does get cold and rainy in Melbourne, though not as bad as the Sydneysiders would have you think).
The State Library is a huge, beautiful building on Swanston St opposite Melbourne Central station.
You can't borrow books, but you can sit and read 'em, and use the internet (I think there's a charge for using the net though). In the afternoons and evening the place will be full of students studying/socialising.
Note: you can't take your bags in - you check them in on the left as you enter.
Opening hours: 10am-9pm Mon-Thurs; 10am-6pm Fri-Sun; closed public holidays.