Flashback 1988 - State Library of Queensland opens at South Bank

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.

Premier Ahern unveiling the plaque of the new State Library of Queensland, April 1988. John Oxley Libray, State Library of Queensland. Neg 150806

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, State Library of Queensland 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 have been digitised for access online.

Banner of State Library of Queensland's logo, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988.

Information Desk, level 2, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Periodicals reading area, level 2, 1988. Information Desk, level 2, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogues). From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

John Oxley Library information desk, level 4. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

John Oxley Library reading room. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Display by the Bindery section, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Entertainment for children. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Children's Library, 1988. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Entertainment for children. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Entertainment for children. From 7706 State Library- Opening Celebrations 9 Apr 1988- 10 Apr 1988

Library staff celebrate the closure of the old State Library building in William Street, Brisbane, 1988. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 68154

Poster announcing State Library's closure and relocation from William Street to South Bank. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland collection

State Library of Queensland, ca.1993. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 34442

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, State Library 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.

Ceremonial Key from the opening of State Library of Queensland on 8 April 1988 (John Oxley Library collection)

State Library has also kept two building plaques, one silver and one black, unveiled at the opening ceremony.

A collection of ninety-five photographs taken by Reina Irmer during the opening weekend celebration can be viewed online via our One Search catalogue.

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 State Library's history:

Previously titled, 30th anniversary - State Library of Queensland opens at South Bank

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Many thanks Myles, another great blog.Having studied in both William Street and the new State Library of QLD at South Bank, I remember my first impressions of the new building in 1988. It was nothing short of palatial. The natural light that it affords users, is so lovely, I marvel at the designers' foresight every time I walk into this stunningly beautiful building, looking onto the vast river below. One of my brothers did the survey for the building and recently inspected his survey marks, in the car park.Thanks to all of the SLQ staff who continue to make this incredible community resource available and accessible to us.