Cataloguing another milestone - SLQ’s 10 year anniversary
On Sunday afternoon, December 7, 2003, the State Library of Queensland's building at South Bank closed its doors to the public; and so began almost 3 years of construction and redevelopment.
State Library moved from its former William Street location to South Bank in 1988; into the building designed by noted architect Robin Gibson. In May 2000, Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie and Minister for the Arts, Matt Foley announced the Millennium Arts Project, which in part included the redevelopment and expansion of SLQ.
State Library's services and access to collections continued throughout the construction period, albeit from a variety of locations. Family history, Indigenous Library Services, James Hardie Library of Australian Fine Arts, John Oxley Library, Maps and Microform were relocated to Cannon Hill, taking up residence in the old National Archives of Australia building from December 1, 2003. A week later a scaled back Reference and Information Service, which included Internet access and a small selection of reference materials was offered from the Cultural Centre Auditorium (a space now occupied by The Edge). SLQ's music and audiovisual collections were moved to Griffith University's Queensland Conservatorium and Queensland College of Art respectively. Preservation staff moved to Morningside Tafe and Image Production staff moved to the Lands Centre at Wooloongabba, from which locations they continued their important work with the collections.
The moving out process required extensive planning. It was estimated that approximately two million collection items, valued at over $74 million dollars were relocated. These items, if placed side by side, would represent 25 kilometres of collections.
During the construction phase, foundation piling commenced in September 2004 and the first major pour occurred in early 2005. The existing building was gutted and the shell expanded. The entire building process from December 2003 until November 2006 was captured on State Library's webcam with eight different views of the site recorded every half hour.
Upon completion the new building included features such as a new 260 seat auditorium, the River Room and River Stairs, Knowledge Walk, larger reading rooms, improved archival storage, exhibition spaces and kuril dhagun, a cultural and learning space for Indigenous peoples.
The redeveloped State Library of Queensland was opened to the public on 25 November 2006.
In 2007 the redeveloped State Library of Queensland building, designed by Donovan Hill Peddle Thorp, was awarded Australia’s top prize for public architecture: the Royal Australian Institute of Architects' Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture.
In the coming years State Library of Queensland would host a multitude of important events including the annual Brisbane Writers' Festival and Queensland Memory Awards, as well as exhibitions such as retro-computer games in Game On, a touring exhibition from London's Barbican Art Gallery, and Transforming Tindale, an exhibition of scientific photographs and contemporary artworks, exploring the legacy of a 1938 anthropological expedition to Aboriginal communities.
Only one event during these first ten years threatened our building and collections. The 2011 flood saw the Brisbane River break its banks and indundated the lower basement and carpark, causing the building’s closure for several weeks. During this period State Library's dedicated staff assisted in the clean-up, helping restore the building to its former glory. Happily none of the collections were damaged during the crisis.
Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland