State Library of South Australia

Our Mortlock Wing - a State Treasure

Date: 28 September 2015

Our magnificent Mortlock Wing has stood proudly on North Terrace since 1884, when it opened as Adelaide's Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery. The Mortlock Wing is named after the Library's most significant benefactor, John Andrew Tennant Mortlock (1894-1950).

The Mortlock Wing
The Mortlock Wing

Today the Mortlock continues to be recognised as one of the top 20 most beautiful libraries in the world. In 2014, the Travel and Leisure website listed Mortlock alongside other grand libraries such as Oxford University's Bodleian Library, Central Library of Vancouver, Trinity College Old Library in Dublin and the Austrian National Library.

Most recently, the Mortlock was mentioned in an article, "Word up - The new chapter in the lives of the greatest libraries", in Virgin's in-flight magazine (August 2015, Virgin Voyeur, pp 118-126). The article highlights how libraries are placed in the future:

"It seems that as long as libraries continue to reflect the way in which we read and communicate, they will not only survive, but thrive. Now, as ever, people seek information, inspiration and a beautiful place to just be." (p. 123)

That feeling of wanting to just be in a beautiful place is certainly one that is repeatedly heard about the Mortlock Wing. A recent visitor comments, "What a beautiful place to hide out from the busyness of the city."

Apart from its beauty, the Mortlock appeals across the generations. Younger children are amazed as they enter the building, thinking they have travelled to Hogwarts and entered Harry Potter's library. Even adults are transported to Hogwarts, commenting "The crown jewel is the old section of this library that is reminiscent of Hogwarts school from Harry Potter" (comment on Trip Advisor). On most days students can be seen studying in the peacefulness of the Mortlock.

If you want to immerse yourself in South Australia's heritage and more, why not take one of our 'Make Yourself at Home' tours. Our friendly Ambassadors take you through the State Library buildings, including the magnificent Mortlock Wing, where you'll hear stories of people, places and events that have helped shape South Australia. Tours are held 11am and 2pm most weekdays (excludes public holidays).

Story by: Tracey Parnis

Back to extra - Spring 2015 - the stories

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