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Culture and heritage

Library at The Dock celebrates 10 years of community connection at the ‘Venice end’ of Collins Street

28 May 2024

Head to Docklands to read, study, use high-tech creative gadgets, watch movies, boost your children’s early literacy and connect with your neighbours in a sustainably-designed space with beautiful harbour views.

It’s 10 years since Library at The Dock opened, so we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on all it brings to the community, and all that’s yet to come. If you haven’t visited this beloved community hub yet, now is the time.

Library at The Dock 10th Birthday event
Friday 31 May

Come along and help celebrate 10 years of Library at The Dock. There’ll be a special birthday storytime, face painting, craft activities, makerspace inductions, sizzling sausages, fairy floss, movies and more. This is an inclusive, all-ages, alcohol-free event. Find out more.

Read on to explore the library’s facilities, events, sustainable design features and history, or follow the links to skip to sections of interest:

Quick guide to Library at The Dock

Located where Collins and Bourke streets intersect at Victoria Harbour in Docklands – or as it’s affectionately known ‘the Venice end of Collins’ – Library at the Dock is one of the City of Melbourne’s six public libraries.

The library offers vast catalogues of books, music and film, a makerspace, editing suites, a recording studio, study areas, a performance space, an art gallery and bookable spaces across three storeys and 3000 square metres.

From peaceful spaces for reading and reflection to bold spaces to 3D print, watch movies with your neighbours, join a toddler music jam or record an album of music, there’s something for everyone at Library at The Dock.

Framed by water on one side and parkland on the other, the library also features a terrace for activities like yoga and tai chi. Outside, there’s a children’s playground, with green spaces to relax and play.

Children’s books, early literacy events and toys

Library at The Dock offers a dedicated children’s library, with very popular early-literacy programs.

Families with young children are invited to attend fun, free sessions every day like Preschool storytime, Stompers and Songbirds sessions.

The library also offers homework clubs for children, full school holiday programs, a popular click-and-collect toy library and a playground outside.

Events, clubs and workshops

With book clubs, free music and movie hire, author talks and many more free programs and events throughout the year, there’s always something to do at Library at The Dock.

We have regular community groups meeting in our spaces offering film screenings, choirs, conversation clubs, yoga, health and recreation programs, meeting and networking opportunities and various events and activities

Some current and upcoming events include:

  • Library Cinema – come along to watch contemporary, classic and documentary films on the big screen on selected Monday afternoons throughout the year. Feel free to stay for a drink and a chat afterwards.
  • Phoebe Thompson: Collected by the Dock – see a thought-provoking art exhibition that aims to make sense of what society has done to Country, and turns rubbish into something as beautiful as it can be. 29 May to 7 July.
  • Angela Mirabito: Elastic Heart – reflect on paintings that acknowledges the detrimental impact of abuse, alongside what’s possible with the necessary support, security and safety. 10 July to 4 August.
  • Josh Deane: Crackle of Cockatoos – explore an intriguing installation of paper mache cockatoos inspired by totem and spirit animal of the artist’s grandfather. The material of paper us a tribute to the library environment. 10 July to 4 August.
People gather in a modern library community space

Makerspace

Visit Library at The Dock’s decked-out makerspace that offers cutting-edge creative tech that you can try out for free, with guidance from experienced staff members.

Over the years, makerspace users have designed games, 3D-printed lizard skeletons for museum exhibits and prototyped groundbreaking medical devices. Find out more about some inspiring makerspace projects.

“From humble beginnings as a few 3D printers and electronics gear nestled amongst the CDs, DVDs and graphics novels on level two, the Makerspace now takes up a third of the floor and offers new cutting-edge tech like 3D printing, laser cutting, embroidery, vinyl cutting and more for free to the public.”

Nathaniel Bott, Emerging and Creative Technology team

As well as helping people pursue their creative passions, the library facilities and supportive staff have also helped local people develop career skills and find jobs in new industries.

“We’ve had patrons who have learnt graphic design using resources like Linkedin Learning and the media PCs with support from our staff, who have gone on to do interviews in the practise rooms and find jobs in industry,” Nat said.

Keep an eye out for the makerspace open days and mini make days, which have included badge making, interactive games and art tools, robotics, textiles workshops and more.

You can also find more makerspaces at Kathleen Syme Library at 251 Faraday Street in Carlton and at narrm ngarrgu Library at 141 Therry Street, Melbourne, in the Queen Victoria Market precinct. View all library locations.

Bookable spaces

Library at The Dock has multipurpose rooms for hire that are suitable for meetings, conferences, performances, training, recreation, gameplay, art and design activities. There’s also a recording studio and gallery that can be booked. Find out more and book online.

The civic heart of Docklands: how Library at The Dock came to be

Developing Docklands has been one of Australia’s largest urban renewal projects – reconnecting central Melbourne with its historic waterfront.

Tall buildings began to emerge in the 1990s, and greater coherence was brought with the Docklands masterplan, which was initiated about 25 years ago.

The population of Docklands has grown rapidly. By 2019, more than 16,000 residents lived in Docklands and 65,000 workers flocked to the area each day. By 2040, we expect the residential population to double to around 31,000.

As monolithic structures emerged in Docklands, there was a need to ensure that the people living in the place had the facilities to lead enriched lives and feel connected to their neighbourhood.

Library at The Dock and its neighbouring Buluk Park and Community Hub were developed to create a “civic heart” of Docklands, providing more than 8000 square metres of public space and community facilities.

The area was planned to echo the design themes of the city – such as bluestone pavers – to provide a sense of connection with the CBD.

Sustainable design features of Library at The Dock

Library at The Dock was Australia’s most sustainable public building at the time of its construction. It received a six-star Green Star rating and and won national awards for its sustainable design and use of timber.

The facade consists of a recycled tallowwood and ironbark rainscreen, constructed from reclaimed timber from Victoria Harbour South Wharf. There’s also hydronic passive heating in the ground-floor concrete slab.

More 100-year-old recycled ironbark can be found in the indoor-outdoor wintergarden space on level three.

Library at The Dock includes natural passive ventilation using a system of mechanical louvres, water harvesting and a 85 kw solar system that saves around 127 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

The building has a structural frame made almost entirely of environmentally friendly cross-laminated timber – take a look at the exposed beams as you climb the striking nine-tonne staircase in the centre of the building.

The use of timber makes the structure 30 per cent lighter than if it was built with regular materials, so it can still comfortably on a 75-year-old wharf just eight metres from the water’s edge.

The unique contrast of old timber construction with modern innovation reflects the library’s role as a space that celebrates both classical and modern methods of entertainment, learning and creating.

Playing a role in Power Melbourne

The City of Melbourne is working to provide residents with affordable access to renewable energy through a network of neighbourhood batteries. One of the first batteries will be installed at Library at The Dock by August.

All City of Melbourne library locations

  • City Library, 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (closed for upgrades, reopening soon)
  • East Melbourne Library, 122 George Street, East Melbourne
  • Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre
  • Library at The Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands
  • narrm ngarrgu, 141 Therry Street, Melbourne
  • North Melbourne Library, 66 Errol Street, North Melbourne
  • Southbank Library, 207 City Road, Southbank
  • Mel-Van mobile library service.

To learn more, visit Library locations and opening hours.

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