State Library has proudly provided library services to the people of Queensland for more than 100 years.
Here are some of the highlights of our service.

Timeline of State Library of Queensland history

1896  The Brisbane Public Library is established in William Street. The Library's collection, purchased by the Queensland Government from the private collection of Mr Justice Harding, is managed by a Board of Trustees chaired by Queensland's Chief Justice, Sir Samuel Griffith.
1898  The Brisbane Public Library is renamed the Public Library of Queensland.
1899  The Public Library of Queensland collection is catalogued using the Dewey Decimal Classification System (first use in an Australian library).
1902  On 29 April, the Public Library of Queensland officially opens and its collections are made available to the public.
1903  The Acting Public Librarian, Evan Roland Jones, is dismissed for misappropriating funds.
1907  The Public Library of Queensland is first wired for electric power.
1917 Mr. W. H. Brown appointed Public Librarian on 1 July.
1924  In Brisbane's centenary year, the State Government collects money to commemorate John Oxley discovering the site of Brisbane. £2,500 left over is used to erect a statue to John Oxley and to purchase 6,000 books for the Oxley Memorial Library.
1934  The Oxley Memorial Library officially opens as a centre for research and study relating to Queensland.
1943  Queensland Parliament passes the Libraries Act, establishing the Library Board of Queensland to manage the operations of the Public Library of Queensland, and coordinate and improve library facilities throughout the state of Queensland.
1946 With the passing of The Oxley Memorial Library of Queensland Act 1946, the assets of the Oxley Centenary fund are transferred to the Library Board of Queensland which undertake to staff and finance the Oxley Memorial Library collection, now known as the John Oxley Library.
1947 The position of State Librarian is created, and James L Stapleton is appointed Queensland's first State Librarian.
  The Library Board of Queensland establishes the Country Extension Service (CES) to provide a library service to individuals living outside the Brisbane metropolitan area.
1951 During the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Australian Federation, the Library Board of Queensland promotes high quality library services to country residents by establishing a model children's library, which travels throughout the State via the rail network.
1954 The Library Board of Queensland begins providing library services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with loans to Woorabinda, Cherbourg, and Palm Island libraries, and to schools on Darnley, Thursday and Yorke Islands in the Torres Strait.
1959 A mosaic by Australian artist Lindsay Edward is added to Centennial Hall, an extension to the State Library in William Street.
1963 A Rare Books Collection is formed.
1966 The Public Library of Queensland in William Street is remodelled, giving it an extra floor and an extended mezzanine.
1970 Sydney Lawrence (Lawrie) Ryan is appointed State Librarian.
1971 The Public Library of Queensland is formally renamed the State Library of Queensland.
1972 A Public Library Service is established to liaise with local authorities regarding their public libraries. The qualified staff subsidy for public libraries is also established.
1973 Thursday Island and Cooktown are the first libraries to join what is later to become the Country Lending Service.
1974 Brisbane flood destroys books at South Brisbane - with water rising to nearly two metres. Over 80% of the stock is damaged. The silt damage makes restoration impossible. Flood insurance payments (taken out only months before) help to establish a new subsidy scheme for small local authorities.
1975 The Queensland Government announces the construction of the Queensland Cultural Centre at South Bank, to be designed by Robin Gibson and Partners, of which Stage 4 is to be a new State Library of Queensland.
1988 The State Library in William Street closes with the move to its new South Bank site.
  James Hardie Industries presents the James Hardie Library of Australian Fine Arts to the Library Board of Queensland.
  Des Stephens is appointed State Librarian.
1995 In October, the State Library of Queensland launches its own Internet site.
1997 The Queensland Government provides the State Library of Queensland with $2.3M over three years for the OPAL (Online Public Access in Libraries) Project to assist public libraries to introduce or expand Internet services for the community.
2000 Premier Peter Beattie announces the Millennium Arts Project which includes a major redevelopment of the existing State Library building (Millennium Library Project).
2001 Appointment of Lea Giles-Peters as State Librarian: the first female State Librarian in the 99 year history of the State Library of Queensland.
2002 State Library of Queensland Centenary celebrations.
2003 Eight Indigenous Knowledge Centres established in the Cape York and Torres Strait regions.

Construction of the Millennium Library Project commences.

  Injinoo Indigenous Knowledge Centre is established.
  Music Queensland, an online archive of uniquely Queensland music scores is launched.
2005 Indigenous Knowledge Centres are established at Cherbourg, Badu and Seisia.
  Manuscripts Queensland is launched providing online access to original material collections held in the John Oxley Library and the Australian Library of Art.
  Queensland stories, the first of the statewide public library strategic development grants programs, is launched.
2006 On 25 November, the redeveloped State Library of Queensland building opens to the public as a new cultural and knowledge destination. Twice its former size, the new State Library is located in the heart of the extended Queensland Cultural Centre at South Bank. It sets a benchmark for state libraries within Australia and the southern hemisphere.
2007 The redeveloped State Library of Queensland building, designed by Donovan Hill Peddle Thorp, is awarded Australia’s top prize for public architecture: the Royal Australian Institute of Architects' Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture, 2007.
2008 The State Library presents Game On, a touring exhibition from London's Barbican Art Gallery, which celebrated the pop culture of gaming.
2009 The Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame, celebrating, recording and retelling outstanding stories of Queensland's Business Leaders over the last 152 years and into the future, is launched in partnership with Queensland University of Technology.
2010 The Edge opens as another State Library of Queensland initiative, sitting alongside the Library's established programs and continuing the library’s growth as a cultural and knowledge destination.

Flood waters from the Brisbane River breach the basement and car park of the State Library building and the lower level of The Edge, necessitating the closure of the Library for five weeks. There is no damage to the Library's collections.


Janette Wright is appointed as CEO and State Librarian.

State Library of Queensland joins with libraries across Australia to celebrate the National Year of Reading.


The Next Horizon: VISION 2017 for Queensland public libraries is a strategic vision for Queensland’s public libraries 2013–2017. It was developed in partnership between State Library of Queensland the Local Government Association of Queensland and the Queensland Public Libraries Association.

Launch of SLQ Multicultural Workforce Strategy outlining State Library’s commitment to improving representation and engagement of employees from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds — with a view to growing and developing our workforce capability to best meet the needs of all Queenslanders.

Establishment of the GRAIL service - Government Research and Information Library (GRAIL) which provides a range of research and library services and resources to support the business requirements of number of Queensland Government Departments.


SLQ took leadership of the Queensland Literary Awards - a community driven collaborative awards program which nurtures and celebrates the talent and achievements of Australian writers.

In partnership with public libraries the Best Start family literacy program was launched to support stronger language and literacy for children from 0–5 years and their families. Now called First 5 Forever.

2016 Vicki McDonald appointed as State Librarian and CEO.
2017 A new Library Board, the governing body of State Library of Queensland, was appointed.
2018 Continued funding for First 5 Forever announced in 2018 State Budget.