At a time when local governments were debating over spending rate payers money on installing sewerage systems or building public libraries, the City of Heidelberg opened Ivanhoe Library on 8 October 1965.
Located in a prime position at the top of the hill next door to the Town Hall, it featured two main floors with a mezzanine floor. Built at a cost of £7,000, it was designed by Architects Leith & Bartlett Pty Ltd, the builders were Neilson & Robinson Pty Ltd of Mordialloc.
At the same time as the new library was opened Heidelberg City Library became Heidelberg Regional Library following the City of Heidelberg's agreement with the former Shire of Eltham and the Shire of Diamond Valley. (The Shire of Whittlesea was to come on board in 1976. Yarra Plenty Regional Library was later established in 1996.)
The building would also accommodate the Regional Library headquarters staff which was based on the top floor through to the early 1990s. A book lift accommodated deliveries of new items to be processed for the collections. The library was also among the first in Victoria to introduce a computerised catalogue. Later a special room for servers was built as the Regional library service expanded to accommodate its library management system. The Outreach and Mobile library vehicle staff were also based at Ivanhoe Library when not out and about, a base to pick up stock and holds.
We made news in 2012 when an overdue book was returned after 27 years. Known, especially for its local and family history and chinese collections, the library also housed a design maker space in recent years. In 2015 we celebrated Ivanhoe’s 50th birthday with a 1960s theme. With the many regular storytimes and events, special programs, student study time, community room learning and meetings - the view from the top floor made the place feel extra special.
The history of public library service in the City of Heidelberg dates back to before the beginning of the twentieth century with the first bookmobile in Victoria at Heidelberg in 1954.
On 16 March 2020 all YPRL branches (including book return chutes) were closed after the Victorian State Government declared a State of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was an opportunity to make a record of the space, many staff, volunteers and patrons have a personal connection with. View these special 360 Photographs Other photos of the library can be viewed here and here. Ivanhoe Library staff worked to clean out the oldest building in the region with staff vacating the building on 31 May, 2020.
Back in 1965, we were all watching The Sound of Music and the community was divided on Australian troops in Vietnam. Today we are binge watching Ozark and other newly discovered TV series, movies, books, podcasts, crafts, walking routes and plants in our garden - and wondering how the world will be changed after COVID-19.
Construction of the new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub Project is underway and we look forward to the opening later in the year and a new chapter in the history of library service in the City of Banyule - and YPRL.
Read more about Yarra Plenty Regional Library at Wikipedia