It might not be the first place you'd think of to go on holiday, but you might find the library is a great place to go for some down time or to see an exhibition. When you're in Brisbane, park your hired car, take a walk around the city, and stop in at The State Library of Queensland.
The State Library of Queensland was founded back in 1896. It has been evolving ever since into what it is today – a great place to go for a huge range of sources, creative exhibitions and events.
One of the main things this library offers is extensive information about the history of Queensland. Stretching back 40,000 years, to when the Aboriginal people and the people of the Torres Strait Islands first arrived, the history is vivid and diverse. There are many stories of discovery and development in the settings of the stark outback, lush islands and stunning coastline that will take you from the sea to the desert.
The John Oxley Library is a great place to go to begin learning about the past. There are collections of unpublished material, personal papers and diaries, original maps and business records. Holding these old papers – frayed and discoloured with age – and thinking of the person writing them and imagining the world they lived in, is a very tactile way to learn about the history if you are interested.
There are many great resources at your disposal to make use of when you visit the library. Its five levels have everything you might need. You'll find hard copies of books, magazines, journals, newspapers and manuscripts, as well as historical sources like archives, maps and rare books. You'll even be able to utilise electronic sources, including music, photographs, films and videos and e-resources.
You don't need a membership card or a booking to use the internet. If you don't have a connection available where you are staying, the library will help to get online so you can contact your friends and family, check out local restaurants or update your travel blog.
The Library Cafe, on the first level, is a great place to chill out and enjoy a meal or a sandwich with a hot drink. A panini and cappuccino go down a treat in the middle of the afternoon.
If you want to leave with a book, but can't borrow one, you could stop in at the Library Shop and buy one to take home. Here you'll find books – for children and adults – about Queensland's history, architecture and design, writing and language. You can even buy a print of an old map of the area as a unique souvenir.
The library often has events that follow a certain theme and encourages visitors to get involved and learn more. 'Our Dreaming: animating country', the current event, is comprised of exhibitions, workshops and activities. It's running until 9 June and is located throughout the library in various galleries.
The event showcases native cultures, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, through animations and installations. This way of storytelling combines history with modern mediums and resources. The sharing of stories, from past to present, through animation is a unique way to bring them to life and share them with the community.
The three galleries each offer something different. The SLQ Gallery provides a vibrant and immersive experience that is distinctly Aboriginal. There are three-dimensional art pieces, such as the Kurilpa mangrove trail. Circular globes of purple lights and spindly curving limbs make up these funky trees. They've been added to by the people who have come to the event and are now covered with colourfully decorated butterflies and insects.
There are also hands on activities in the SLQ Gallery. You can read stories other visitors have created and colour images on iPads, and watch projections on cubes and films.