157 years of service and counting ...

Boroondara Library Service has provided more than 150 years of continuous library service. It has been a vital part of the community since it began in 1860, and its history illustrates how it has responded to the needs of local people.

Not just books!

For many decades, only books were available for loan, but the role of public libraries and the way people are using them is changing rapidly: members now have access to a vast number of DVDs, eBooks, audio books and can even access free music, online newspapers and online courses from around the world.

All of our libraries offer rooms for hire - for community groups, study groups and more - as well as computers that can be booked by the hour for those who don’t have access to computers or the internet from home.

Today’s library network

Boroondara Library Service was formed in June 1994 when the cities of Camberwell, Hawthorn and Kew amalgamated.


1860: The Hawthorn Free Public Library received its first loan of 350 books from the Melbourne Public Library (now the State Library of Victoria) on 26 July 1860. The books were housed in the office of the Boroondara District Roads Board.

1861: The Hawthorn Literary Association was founded in November 1861 and took charge of the library collection.

1862: Hawthorn Free Public Library moved to the first Hawthorn Town Hall in Burwood Road, later becoming known as Hawthorn City Library.

1938: Hawthorn City Library moved from the Town Hall to a building adjacent to it.

1969: The library moved to its present site at 584 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn.


1860: Kew's first library was the Kew Literary and Scientific Society, which opened on 6 August 1860.

1884: Kew Town Hall was extended and the library transferred to a room on the upper floor. This was not an ideal arrangement as the room was required for Council purposes.

1904: A cottage adjoining Kew Town Hall was purchased for use as a library.

1937: The library was closed for a major overhaul of stock and renovation of the building. It reopened in December 1937 and remained there for more than 35 years.

1973: When the Civic Centre opened in Charles Street, Kew, the library moved in.

1987: Kew Library moved to its current location in the converted city hall, overlooking the beautiful Alexandra Gardens. The library was officially opened at this site on Friday 23 October 1987 by the Mayor of Kew, Cr James Tutt.


1955: Camberwell's free public library opened on 1 August 1955 in the old Subscription Library building, which opened in 1907 in Canterbury Gardens.

1957: By 1957 a bookmobile service carrying 3000 books (a vehicle designed to store a mobile library of books) had begun visiting 8 sites throughout the City of Camberwell on a weekly basis. The bookmobile operated until the Balwyn and Ashburton libraries opened.

1961: Camberwell Library opened in 1961 in the old town hall building in Camberwell Road. Built in 1891 as a civic building, the old town hall underwent major alterations to become a library. This replaced the old site in Canterbury Gardens, although the Canterbury Library continued as a branch library until the end of 1977.

1979: The bookmobile went out for the last time on 20 December 1979.

2006: Camberwell Library closed temporarily from 3 July to 16 July 2006 to move to its temporary location at 25 Inglesby Road. The library reopened on Monday 17 July 2006.

2012: The new Camberwell Library was built as part of the Camberwell Civic Centre. It opened at 9am on Monday 10 September 2012.


1978: Balwyn Library opened at its current location on Friday 17 February 1978 with 31,000 lending items. The original Balwyn Library was designed by Daryl Jackson of Daryl Jackson Evan Walker Architects.

2017: The redevelopment of the library started in 2017 and is due for completion early 2018.


1980: Ashburton Library opened at its current location on Friday 14 March 1980. The Ashburton Library was designed by Daryl Jackson of Daryl Jackson Evan Walker Architects.

2013: Following a redevelopment of the existing building, Ashburton Library reopened on 21 November 2013.

Balwyn North

2018: The Greythorn Library Lounge opened in the Greythorn Community Hub on Monday 30 July 2018.

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