Libraries in Boroondara

From Boroondara Wiki

Public libraries in Boroondara are run and maintained by the City of Boroondara Library Service. There are five libraries across the municipality: Ashburton, Balwyn, Camberwell, Hawthorn and Kew. This network houses over 500,000 volumes, more than any other library in Victoria (apart from the State Library).[1]


The first municipal libraries in Boroondara was opened in 1860 by the Boroondara District Road Board. The Hawthorn Free Public Library was a makeshift centre using shelves and books borrowed from the State Library of Victoria. The Kew Literary and Scientific Society also opened their own library soon afterwards on 6 August 1860.[2][3]

The library in Hawthorn was not a success and was taken over in November 1861 by the Hawthorn Literary Association. It moved to the first Hawthorn Town Hall in 1862.[2]

Numerous other privately-run libraries also began to open throughout the 1870s, including one at Camberwell Reserve.[3]

In 1898, the first municipal library in Canterbury was opened on Canterbury Road near the intersection with Balwyn Road. The Canterbury and Balwyn Reading Room and Library was opened on the 13 August 1898 by John Maling, one of the councillors representing the area. After the opening of Canterbury Gardens in 1903 opposite its original site, the Library moved into a new building within the new park. It was officially reopened on 2 March 1907.[4]

Up until the early 1950s, municipal libraries had operated more-or-less at the whim of successive councils. There was no permanent department or organisation with ongoing funding to support their operation. With the huge population increases during the post-war suburban sprawl, a proposal to establish a permanent and free public library service was narrowly approved by a narrow majority of Camberwell City Council on 23 July 1953. This proved to be a good decision; within fifteen months of opening, the new Canterbury Library became the busiest public library in Victoria.[3]

In 1966, the neighbouring cities of Camberwell and Waverley agreed to form a regional library service. This arrangement operated until 1986 when Camberwell Council refused to renew the contract. Despite protests and petitions against the move, the split went ahead. As a result, hours and services were cut from libraries across the municipality to pay for the $1.9 million cost of the move.[3]

Branch libraries

Five public libraries operated by the Boroondara Library Service currently operate across the municipality:

A 'library lounge' in the new Greythorn Community Hub in Balwyn North is also scheduled to open in mid-2018.


  1. City of Boroondara. Library Services Plan. December 2015., accessed: 8 April 2018
  2. 2.0 2.1 City of Boroondara. The history of our libraries. 2018., accessed: 2018-04-08
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Copland, Luba. History of Free Library Service of the City of Camberwell. Melbourne: November 1989.
  4. Camberwell-Waverley Regional Library. Canterbury Branch Library: Historical Outline. January 1978.