Originally the Melbourne Public Library, the Swanston Street building was opened in 1856. The Domed Reading Room was constructed in the late Nineteenth Century when the Library ran out of storage space. Melbourne architects Bates, Peebles, and Smart designed the building based on the British Museum in London, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.. Construction started in 1909 and completed in 1913.
The concrete dome of the Victoria State Library spans 35 meters in height and width. The timber desks provide seating up to 320 readers; and the Library holds over 2 million books and 16,000 serials. The 480 glass panes in the dome supply enough daylight to lit the room so artificial lighting is only required in the evening.