Celebrating 50 years of Moonee Valley libraries

In 1968, Flemington, Sam Merrifield (then Essendon) and Niddrie libraries opened their doors to the public for the very first time. This marks 50 years of our library service!

Throughout 2018 we’ll be undertaking several exciting initiatives to celebrate this milestone, officially launching these celebrations at the Moonee Valley Festival on Sunday, 25 February with free celebratory showbags being given out on the day.

Get involved - if you have photos or stories about one of our libraries, we would love to hear from you. Contact librarian@mvcc.vic.gov.au or drop into your local branch.

Why are libraries worth celebrating?

Moonee Valley takes great pride in its libraries. Each of our five branches provide a safe and welcoming space, free for our community to connect, learn, study, research and of course, read!

From the young parents or grandparents who bring their children to our reading sessions, to the secondary students studying for exams, to the tertiary students researching for their PhD, to the retirees who come in to read the daily paper, we have many residents who have been coming to our libraries for years - some even decades!

Libraries play an important role in lifelong learning - they are a place for people to utilise and learn technology, a space to mix with community, and they provide access to resources for recreation and information.

Our libraries provide a diverse range of workshops, up-skilling classes, as well as meeting spaces for community groups. To find out more about what they can offer you, visit the Libraries section.

Did you know?

  • We now have 5 library branches throughout Moonee Valley
  • Nearly 1 million items are borrowed each year
  • 800,000 people visit our libraries each year
  • 55,000 attendances at library programs per year
  • 185,000 internet sessions occur per year
  • Our library membership base currently sits at 57,000

How are libraries celebrating in 2018?

We have some exciting events and activities coming your way to celebrate our 50th anniversary! Check back to this page in the near future more details.

We will also be giving out free 50th celebration showbags at the Moonee Valley Festival in February - make sure to come along and grab yours!

And as always, join us for our regular program of events, author talks and workshops for children, teenagers and adults. Visit the Library events page to find out what's coming up. 

History of the libraries

Key dates in the history of our local libraries

Date Milestone 
1939 Essendon Public Library closed.
1950s Community pressure to re-establish public libraries in the Essendon and Keilor areas is growing. By this time most municipalities had libraries.
December 1961 Report to the Keilor City Council on a Library Survey of the City: Together With a Plan for Library Service and Attached Budgets, by the Free Library Service Board of Victoria. Plan to establish a central Keilor library, with a bookmobile and a branch library at St Albans as soon as possible. The Matthews Avenue site was chosen as it was council owned land already being developed for other community services with room for expansion in a central location near a busy shopping area. The report recommended employing five female full-time staff, plus one male Driver-Librarian (yes, the genders were specified).
1963 Referendum on establishment of library in Essendon successful (13,888 in favour, 6,464 against, 830 informal).
1964 Keilor Council commits to establishing municipal library within two years. Reported by St Albans Observer, 12 March 1964. Plan to have a central library in Matthews Ave, Niddrie, and a bookmobile to serve outlying areas. This replaced a tiny pre-existing library in St Albans which had old stock and was barely used (reported by St Albans Observer, 6 May 1965). The population of the City of Keilor at this time was 30,000, and the service began with approximately 3,500 books.
1965 Land purchased for Essendon library (from Church of England).
1966 Shops demolished to make way for Flemington Library Preparatory work entails the demolition of two shops at 313 and 315 Racecourse Road, Newmarket.
1967 The City of Keilor was struggling to find a City Librarian in mid 1967. The Essendon Gazette (12/4/1967) reported that after much advertising the city had chosen an appointee, but he then turned down the post as his wife would be unable to find a suitable job. Council decided to advertise the job in the UK and NZ (St Albans Observer 25/5/67).
27 May 1968 Flemington Library opened. The current Flemington Library opened in May 1968. It was originally known as Flemington-Kensington Library, and was part of the City of Melbourne. The library was officially opened by the Mayor, Cr R T A Talbot on Friday 24th May, with doors open to the general public from Monday 27th May. The new library was touted as “one of the best things which has happened to Flemington since World War II” (Northern Advertiser, 07/09/1967, p6), and within four months of opening was the busiest of City of Melbourne’s four libraries. Flemington Library Opened at current location, Monday, May 27th, 1968 at 12 noon. (1968 Northern Advertiser, pg.2).
26 Sept 1967 – 2 July 1968 Meeting between representatives of Broadmeadows and Essendon where the two councils agreed that a regional library service should be established. Subsequent meetings drafted the agreement, and it was approved by Governor-in-Council on 2 July 1968. Essendon Library is HQ of new service. (Source EBRL First report 1968).
6 July 1968 Essendon Library (now Sam Merrifield Library) officially opened by Minister for Education, Lindsay Thompson.
8 July 1968 Essendon Library (now Sam Merrifield Library) opened to the public.
19 October 1968 Niddrie Library officially opened (originally Keilor City Library) at 13 Mathews Avenue, Niddrie. This opening date was selected to avoid Melbourne Show week at the end of October (Report dated 6 June 1968). Miss Grace Holden was the first City Librarian (St Albans Observer, 16/10/1968).
21 October 1968 Niddrie Library opened to the public.
1969 Fawkner Library opened in Dukes Road.
May 1971

Glenroy Library opened in Pascoe Vale Road.

Library provided outreach service to Ford Factory in Broadmeadows.

1 August 1971 Councils of Broadmeadows, Brunswick and Essendon and Shire of Bulla establish a legal agreement to form the Moonee Valley Regional Library.
1974 Essendon Library extended (extension of the ground floor and addition of a first floor. First floor was the location of Library HQ and Regional Librarian/HQ staff. After 1996 renovations this area became part of council offices).
1974-75 Collection bar-coded and the use of computer based light pen was set up at all branches except Craigieburn. (source: MVRL 5th Report 1974-75)
1974-75 Essendon City Council purchased a bank property on cnr Union and St Leonards Road Ascot Vale for development of branch library.
March 1975 Toy Library launched at Essendon Library, with 325 members, and 500 more on a waiting list.
June 1975 Sunbury Library opened (source: MVRL 5th Report 1974-75).
1975 City of Brunswick leaves the regional library service.
1975 Shire of Kilmore joins the regional library service. Note: there was no static branch, Shire serviced by the Kilmore Bookmobile.
March 1976 “Jolly Jumbuck” multi-media van jointly operated by Moonee Valley Regional Library, the Library Council of Victoria and the State Film Centre launched by Premier, Rupert Hamer. The 3 bodies shared the van, with MV operating the van only within its own region. (Messenger (St Albans?) 24/08/1976). See also The Municipal Journal, March 1976.
23 June 1976 Avondale Heights Library opened. Shop front library, located at 153 Military Road, Avondale Heights. Leased premises ($125 per week).
27 November 1976  Ascot Vale Library opened. Current location on corner of Union and St Leonards Rd. Pauline Meaney was Branch Librarian. Non-fiction arranged by topic.
26 March 1977 Gladstone Park Community Library opened. A joint library service commenced at GP High School. (source: MVRL 6th Report 1975-6)
1976-77 The regional library service now has the largest number of service points of all public libraries in the metro area – and 3 unique service points. The first shop-front library (AVA) the first urban bookmobile (Broadmeadows) and the first joint use library (GP) (source: MVRL 7th Report 1976-7)
8 March 1978 Shire of Romsey joins the regional library service. Shire of Kilmore agreed to hire out its bookmobile to serve the new area. From 1975 until December 1994 (when new municipal boundaries were implemented) the 5 municipalities of Essendon, Broadmeadows, Bulla, Kilmore and Romsey made up the Moonee Valley Regional Library Service. Fact check – Romsey only joined in 78
1978 Teenagers invited to contribute to a free magazine for teens, Keilor Encounters, produced by Keilor Library (Messenger 16/05/78). We have photocopies in our local history archive).
August 1980 Avondale Heights Library moves from 153 Military Road to 135 Military Road (Council owned building).
May 1981 New Craigieburn Library building starts 1/5/1981. Library opens in 1981/82 year (source: MVRL Reports 1980/81 1981/82 – exact opening date not given)
9 August 1981 LIBS 100. MVRL became the first public library in Australia to go online with CLSI’s LIBS100 system – an online library automation system. The computer system was housed upstairs at SML – in the HQ area. Had its own room with a/c, printer, and very large disk systems. (source: MVRL Report 1981-82. Photo page 13)
2 February 1983 Essendon Library renamed Sam Merrifield Library in honour of Sam Merrifield (1903-1982), Member of Parliament, local historian, community activist, library supporter and lifelong local resident.
October 1984 Videos introduced: “Keilor Library has a collection of educational and documentary VHS video cassettes now available … borrowed one at a time”. Messenger 2/10/1984)
1985 Keilor central library under threat of annexation to Essendon. (Community and Real Estate News, July 2nd 1985 and Messenger 12/7/1985). Note: Suburb of West Essendon transferred from City of Keilor to City of Essendon.
1985 Apparent name change from Keilor Central Library to Niddrie Library. No article found reporting this change, but first use of Niddrie Library appears in Messenger 29/10/1985.
1987 Harsh funding cuts to public library subsidies from State Government (Messenger, 2? April 1987)
1990 Introduction of computerised catalogue for Keilor Libraries.
20 July 1991 Milleara Library officially opened 20 July 1991 by “His Worship, the Mayor, Cr. Sam Ortisi” (plaque, at AHL, workroom). Relocation of the Avondale Heights Library to Milleara Shopping Centre. Sale of 135 Military Road funded relocation and establishment. The premises were leased (20 years) for a “peppercorn” rent. Library had opened to public on 11 June 1991.
1991 Friends of Essendon Library group formed.  This group ran through the 1990s and was vocal during the Council amalgamation phase, protesting against cuts to library funding and services and to CCT. (Source: Judy Maddigan archives)
1994 Merger of City of Essendon and parts of City of Melbourne and Keilor. In 1994, the Jeff Kennett government restructured local government in Victoria. His reforms dissolved 210 councils and sacked 1600 elected councillors, and created 78 new councils through amalgamations. Moonee Valley City Council established as a result.
1994-95 Flemington Library transferred from City of Melbourne to City of Moonee Valley/Moonee Valley Regional Library in first round of Council amalgamations. Niddrie, Milleara and Tullamarine Libraries transferred from City of Keilor to City of Moonee Valley/Moonee Valley Regional Library and Glenroy and Fawkner Libraries were transferred to City of Moreland in second round of amalgamations. The third round of amalgamations saw Kilmore/Romsey (a bookmobile service) go to Macedon Ranges.
1994-95 Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CTT) - Moonee Valley Libraries forced into CCT by State Government changes. With the passing of the Local government (competitive tendering) act 1994 Victoria's public library sector became the first in the world to be exposed to compulsory competitive tendering (CCT). As a consequence, between 1996 and 1999, a large number of Victorian public library services were tendered out and subsequently managed on a contractual basis. The contract based model of governance was unique to Victoria and has not been replicated on the same scale anywhere else in the world. Competition for the contracts was almost nonexistent, with no interest from the public sector and little interest in existing library services bidding for contracts in neighbouring areas. The lack of a competitive market meant that the CCT process was ultimately ineffective in terms of financial criteria. However it left a profound and potentially lasting imprint on the structure and management of Victoria's public libraries - see HMVRL Annual Report 1996/97 for full details of CCT and the outcomes.
December 1995 Hume-Moonee Valley Regional Library Corporation established (replacing the former Moonee Valley Regional Library Corporation).
1 April 1996 Tender to run Melton Library awarded to Hume Moonee Valley. (Source Annual Report 1996/97).
June 1996 Renovations at Sam Merrifield Library began.
June 1996 Library HQ moved to Hume Council Offices in Sunbury.
July - December 1996 Sam Merrifield Library relocated to Ascot Vale Road while the original building was gutted, extended on three sides and refurbished.
20 August 1996 Moonee Valley Commissioners decided to close Ascot Vale Library. A strong protest movement was established, spear headed by Judy Maddigan (MLA for Essendon and ex Mayor of Essendon and ex library staff member). Several protest meetings were held at AVA Sep/Oct/Nov 1996 prior to closure (Source Judy Maddigan archives) Michael Smith was Acting Branch Librarian at the time.
12 December 1996 Refurbished Sam Merrifield Library opened by Commissioner Les Croft. Library had gained an additional 300 square metres of floor space, more natural light, public toilets, first meeting room, and new “more distinctive façade” on Mt Alexander Rd. Project cost: $1.8 million. Time capsule was buried at opening.
March 1997 Elected Councillors replaced the Kennett appointed Commissioners.
June 1997 Ascot Vale Library was reopened (with reduced hours and staffing) by elected Council in June 1997. (Annual Report 1996/97)
2002 Introduction of book-clubs.
December 2002 Dissolution of Hume-Moonee Valley Regional Library Corporation. Sam Merrifield, Ascot Vale, Flemington, Niddrie and Milleara Libraries run by City of Moonee Valley. Hume Global Learning Centre (new), Sunbury, Craigieburn, Broadmeadows Bookmobile, Tullamarine and Gladstone Park Libraries to be run by City of Hume. Melton to run itself. Moonee Valley HQ transferred to Niddrie Library (originally this area was to be workroom for branch).
October 2003 Niddrie Library transferred from Matthews Avenue (purpose built and Council owned) to 483 Keilor Road (shop front and leased premises). A Moonee Valley Council Customer Service desk operated at Niddrie Library, circa 2003-206.
2010 Introduction of Toddler Time. First run monthly at Niddrie. By 2013 was monthly at all branches except AVA. By 2017 was weekly at all branches during terms. Baby Rhyme time started in approx. 2008 (accordingly to Paula Smith, 2018), initially monthly at Niddrie, but by 2017 was weekly at every branch (term times only).
8 October 2010 Avondale Heights Library and Learning Centre, located at 69-75 Military Road, Avondale Heights, officially opened by Deputy Premier and Niddrie MP, Hon. Rob Hulls. Former Kangan TAFE/Avondale High School site. Library relocated from Milleara Mall (Note: library service at Mall had operated for the 12 month period prior to move from a dismountable portable in carpark at shopping centre while shopping centre underwent a redevelopment). Centre had opened to public on 7 September 2010.
8 October 2011 Andy Griffiths attends First Birthday Celebrations of Avondale Heights Library and Learning Centre, along with 2,000 community members.
2012  Introduction of self-service kiosks and radio frequency identification tags across Moonee Valley Libraries.
2013 Finding My Place program for young adults starts. Run at AHL, continued every year since.
14 March 2013 Official launch of Atrium extension at Avondale Heights Library and Centre by Hon. Jeanette Powell, Minister for Local Government and Cr Narelle Sharpe, Moonee Valley Mayor of the day.
November 2013 Name change from Moonee Valley Library Service to Moonee Valley Libraries.
2014  Refurbishment of Sam Merrifield Library. Includes creation of new multi-purpose meeting room spaces. Work began on 26 Feb 2014.
August 2014 Launch of Family History Group. First meeting held during Family History Month in new meeting space at Sam Merrifield Library.


Last updated: Friday, 12 January 2018, 11:43 PM