We'd love to know why you visit the dome. What do you use it for? Do you remember the first time you saw it?
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The State Library of Victoria invites you to celebrate the centenary of its iconic dome
Since 1913 the Library's domed reading room has been the symbolic heart of our great institution. Celebrate the scholarship, creativity and learning this architectural icon has inspired for generations of Victorians. Learn more
Writers for the most part don’t inhabit beautiful work spaces; we’re often looking out a window or at a blank wall and we spend a lot of time inside our heads.
There is nothing quite like occupying this cathedral of a space,
not so much for its beauty which one gets very quickly on entering, but for the enormous sense of calm and space and quiet that you experience working here under this particular dome.
I really, really love this space. I have a huge sentimental attachment to it and that’s partly because in about 1960 when I was working through the summer in the city, it was so hot and there was no air conditioning anywhere, the only cool place that I could find in Melbourne was in here in the dome. I used to come for escape from the heat and also as it was a very peaceful, beautiful place to be. It seemed very beautiful then and it seems crisper and even more spectacular now.
Research is really important in writing fiction, not just for fiction set in the past. If one wants to make something up it’s a good idea to find out how such a thing might happen, and what might physically prevent your mad idea being true. These are the moments where you come to the Library, and where you find the most magical things. Finding those sort of things is when you elevate your work. I love research. All sorts of treasures that exist in my fictional work have been picked up on the beach of the Library.
This is a beautiful public space and what a luxury that is in a crowded, noisy, distracted world. Even irreligious or atheistic people like me love to sit in a cathedral because there’s that enormous sense of space and a soaring of the spirit that takes place. The dome does the same thing; it is a great place for a human being to be and stay calm and quiet. The light is crystalline and beautiful, the glass that it enters through is gorgeous, these green lights – how can one ever forget them, the arrangement of the desks – everything is aesthetically satisfying and made to suit, calm and soothe the human organism; a great place.
We are better for occupying it.