Hibernation boredom busters from Victoria’s State Library

State Library CEO Kate Torney


Looking for some hibernation inspiration beyond Netflix and chill?

Doors to Victoria’s beautiful State Library might be temporarily closed, but we can still access her treasure trove of books, paintings, videos, journals, articles, artefacts, music albums and more on the web. And there’s absolutely no charge. Simply sign up to the Library’s free membership.

With more than five million items to explore, where do you start? Five of the Best asked State Library’s CEO Kate Torney for an insider’s guide to her favourite online gems.

1. Dive into the digital image pool

Picture: State Library Victoria

You can happily lose hours in the library’s digital image pool. There are more than 170,000 images, including prints, photographs, maps and architectural drawings, each with a unique story. Some of my favourites are the photographic collections by Wolfgang Sievers, Mark Strezic and Maggie Diaz, which capture stunning and evocative images of Victoria last century.

2. Virtually visit Velvet, Iron, Ashes

One of the wonderful things about the library is finding connections between stories and collection items, and this is beautifully brought to life in the online Velvet, Iron, Ashes exhibition. This draws together surprising and often playful connections between events, people and the iconic stories which have shaped Victoria. Discover how the Ashes Urn is linked to the inventor of the Freddo Frog and a well-known iron-clad bushranger.

3. Trace your family history

Picture: Albert Jones c. 1910–18 (State Library Victoria)

I remember the late John Clarke telling me that he entered the State Library seeking advice on the archives and libraries around the world that he would need to personally visit to embark on his family history, only to realise that most of the resources were at his fingertips under the library’s beautiful dome. Thanks to the library’s extraordinary family history experts, our online family history resources are a perfect way to start your journey through newspapers, letters, diaries, maps, passenger lists and more. Ancestry.com has also opened up its database to State Library Victoria members for a limited time, significantly expanding the breadth of research tools available. Members can use this to access records from across the globe including WWI pensions records, directories and convict records.

4. Browse more than 19,000 ebooks

The Library is home to thousands of ebooks covering most genres and topics,  so whether you want to be informed, distracted, entertained or inspired there is something for everyone.

5. Uncover stories with Trove

Trove is an extraordinary resource which brings together digital collections from libraries, museums, galleries and archives across the country. It is home to our press records, including a log of almost every newspaper ever printed in Victoria, all the way back to The Melbourne Advertiser published in 1838. As a former journalist, this is an endless source of fascination for me and a valuable resource for anyone interested in Victoria’s history.


Hibernation boredom busters from Victoria’s State Library