The University of Melbourne LibraryBaillieu 50th Anniversary

History of the Baillieu

2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the Baillieu Library. It was the first modern, purpose-built academic library in Australia and was officially opened by the then Prime Minister Robert Menzies on 21 March 1959. Following is a brief chronology of the Baillieu Library.

1944: The William Lawrence Baillieu Trust provides ?105,000 towards the establishment of a new university library.

1945: Architect John F.D. Scarborough and Partners is commissioned to plan the new library.

1952–1954: A site is chosen and the design and layout are completed.

1955: The University launches the Centenary Building Appeal to raise ?1 million for new buildings, including the library.

March 1957–December 1958: Construction of the Baillieu Library stage 1 is completed. It consists of a ‘semi-basement’ and five floors.  The University Librarian, Axel Lodewycks, worked closely with the architects on the building design and fitout.

21 March 1959: The Baillieu Library is officially opened by the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, at 2.30 pm. Speeches are made by the Chancellor of the University, Mr Justice Arthur Dean, the Prime Minister, and by Lord Baillieu on behalf of the Baillieu family, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir George Paton and the chairman of the Professorial Board, Professor E.S. Hills. Lord Baillieu also unveils the memorial inscription in the library foyer.

1969–1974: Stages 2 and 3 construction of extensions to the south-west, north-west and north-east corners are completed.

1990s: The Better Baillieu Library Project raises money for the refurbishment of all six floors of the Baillieu Library over several stages, including information technology infrastructure.

2000: The entire south side of the first floor is refurbished to create the Percy Baxter Collaborative Learning Centre, containing multimedia workstations, two training rooms, discussion space, and providing access to many databases and software tools.

2003: The Information Resources Access Department relocates from the northern part of the ground floor of the Baillieu Library to a building off-campus. After the area is refurbished and given a separate entrance, the University’s bookshop moves into the space.

2009: The Baillieu Library accommodates the Arts and Humanities book, journal, microform and newspaper collections, the Special Collections (including the Reading Room, shared with the University Archives and the Grainger Collection), Rare Books, the Print Room, the Louise Hanson Dyer Music Library, the East Asian collections, the Percy Baxter Collaborative Learning Centre, the Unicard copy centre, the Library’s administration section and information and lending services.

Into the future: Planning for a major refurbishment of the Baillieu Library is underway which will improve student and researcher spaces and services and improve accommodation for and access to the collections.

This is an edited version of ‘The Baillieu Library: A Chronology,’ The University of Melbourne Library Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, Dec. 1999, p. 5.

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