30th anniversary – State Library of Queensland opens at South Bank

On April 8, 1988, on the eve of World Expo 88, the State Library of Queensland was officially opened at its new premises in inner Brisbane’s South Bank by Premier and Arts Minister Mike Ahern.

Premier Ahern unveiling the plaque of the new State Library of Queensland, April 1988. John Oxley Libray, State Library of Queensland. Neg 150806

Premier Ahern unveiling the plaque of the new State Library of Queensland, April 1988. John Oxley Libray, State Library of Queensland. Neg 150806

Ahern described the library as “something of which all Queensland can be extremely proud”, and of “enormous importance to the scholastic and cultural development of our great state”.

On Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th April, State Library of Queensland hosted a special celebratory weekend with displays and entertainment. State Library’s photographer Reina Irmer captured the celebrations. These images are now part of our historical photograph collection and have been digitised for access online.

Banner of State Library of Queensland's logo, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988.

Banner of State Library of Queensland’s logo, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988.

Information Desk, level 2, 1988. Banner of State Library of Queensland's logo, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Information Desk, level 2, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Periodicals reading area, level 2, 1988. Information Desk, level 2, 1988. Banner of State Library of Queensland's logo, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Periodicals reading area, level 2, 1988. Information Desk, level 2, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogues). From Periodicals reading area, level 2, 1988. Information Desk, level 2, 1988. Banner of State Library of Queensland's logo, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogues). From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogues). From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogues). From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

John Oxley Library information desk, level 4, 1988. OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogues). From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

John Oxley Library information desk, level 4. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

John Oxley Library reading room. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

John Oxley Library reading room. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

SLQ Cafe, 1988. From John Oxley Library information desk, level 4, 1988. OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogues). From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

SLQ Cafe, 1988.. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Display by the Bindery section, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Display by the Bindery section, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Entertainment for children. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Entertainment for children. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Children's Library, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Children’s Library, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Entertainment for children. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Entertainment for children. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Entertainment for children. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Entertainment for children. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

The original State Library, established in 1902, needed to move from its city premises in William Street as its ever-expanding collections had outgrown the old building. At a cost of $26 million, the new building was the fourth and final stage of the Queensland Cultural Centre development. Commissioned by the state government in 1975, the QCC was designed by architect Robin Gibson.

Library staff celebrate the closure of the old State Library building in William Street, Brisbane, 1988. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 68154

Library staff celebrate the closure of the old State Library building in William Street, Brisbane, 1988. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 68154

Poster announcing SLQ closure and relocation from William Street to South Bank. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland collection

Poster announcing SLQ closure and relocation from William Street to South Bank. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland collection

The Queensland Cultural Centre took early shape with the opening of the new Queensland Art Gallery in 1982, followed by the Performing Arts Complex in 1985 and the Queensland Museum in 1986. The library itself began its three-year construction in 1985 on the site of the old St Helen’s Hospital.

State Library of Queensland, ca.1993. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 34442

State Library of Queensland, ca.1993. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 34442

The new four-level building housed the library’s extensive reference and research collections, including the John Oxley Library – “the state’s centre for research and study relating to the history of Queensland” – with its vast collections of photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts.

It also boasted many new and upgraded facilities, including computer catalogues, a small theatre for lectures and film screenings, a rare books room, a maps collection area, music practice room and a children’s library.

In our collection, SLQ holds the ceremonial key presented by Bill Gunn, Deputy Premier, Minister for Public Works, Main Roads and Expo and Minister for Police to Dr J.W. Trace, Chairman, Library Board of Queensland on the occasion of the opening of the Library in 1988. The key is housed in a wooden case.

3245 State Library of Queensland Ceremonial Key 8 Apr 1988. SLQ collection.

3245 State Library of Queensland Ceremonial Key 8 Apr 1988. SLQ collection.

SLQ has also kept two building plaques, one silver and one black, unveiled at the opening ceremony.

A collection of ninety-five photographs taken by Reina Irmer during the opening weekend celebration can be viewed online via our One Search catalogue.

Between December 2003 and November 2006, the building was redeveloped and expanded, which included an additional floor added to the structure.

Myles Sinnamon – Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland

Further reading about SLQ’s history: