Libraries in Boroondara have provided more than 150 years of continuous service to the community. Their history illustrates how they have responded to the needs of local people.

For many decades, only books were available for loan, but the role of public libraries and the way people are using them has changed rapidly in recent years. 

Members now have access to a vast number of ebooks, audio books, music and film collections, online newspapers and online courses from around the world.

Today's library network

Boroondara Library Service became a single entity in June 1994 when the cities of Camberwell, Hawthorn and Kew amalgamated.

Library branches

Hawthorn

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.

Kew

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.

Camberwell

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.

Balwyn

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 was completed in 2018.

Ashburton

1980: Ashburton Library opened at its current location on Friday 14 March 1980. 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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