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.
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, SLQ 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 are in the process of being digitised for access online.
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.
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.
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.
SLQ has also kept two building plaques, one silver and one black, unveiled at the opening ceremony.
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: