10 Fast Facts

  1. Melbourne is the home for writers, independent publishers and bookstores in Australia and was the second City of Literature as well as the first Creative City in Australia.
  2. Melburnians consume more books, magazines and newspapers per capita than any other city in Australia and enjoy the highest concentration of community book clubs in the country.
  3. Melbourne is home to Australia’s oldest public library State Library of Victoria. Founded in 1854, it was the first major cultural institution to be established in Melbourne and now attracts over 1.9m visitors annually.
  4. There are 289 local libraries in Victoria, with 2.5 million members who borrow around 50 million items each year and almost half of all Victorians are library members.
  5. Victorians of all ages are avid readers. More Victorians read for pleasure than in any other State. Since the Premiers Reading Challenge began 14 years ago, more than 2.5 million students have turned the pages of nearly 45 million books. 
  6. The Story of the Kelly Gang, believed to be the world's first feature-length narrative movie, was filmed in Melbourne in 1906.
  7. The State Library of Victoria is home to a large rare books collection, including authors Shakespeare to Charles Darwin to Patrick White. These may be viewed upon appointment, or you can visit the permanent rare books exhibition, World of the book (formerly Mirror of the world).
  8. Cole’s Book Arcade, opened by E.W Cole, was reputed to be one of the world’s largest bookshop at the turn of the twentieth century. Boasting of its number of two million stocked books, it came to the attention of visiting international luminaries such as Mark Twain.
  9. Peter Dodds McCormick composed the lyrics to Advance Australia Fair on the bus home after an evening concert at the Exhibition Building.
  10. One of Australia’s earlier bestsellers, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume, was published in 1886. It is a murder mystery set in the city, and went on to sell over half a million copies worldwide and has been adapted for film several times.