Enlivening our Present by Illuminating our Past


<Enlivening our Present by
Illuminating our Past>



<Enlivening our Present by
Illuminating our Past>



<Enlivening our Present by
Illuminating our Past>



<Enlivening our Present by
Illuminating our Past>



The Batten Lending Library

The BMI is home to one of the few remaining subscription libraries in Australia,
and has been running continuously since 1859 in the tradition of Mechanics’ Institutes - providing education and recreation. Receive personal service and enjoy a unique peaceful and friendly setting in the heart of the Ballarat CBD.

Lending Library

Visit our new website for more information and resource material –  Click Here

BMI Research Collection

The BMI hosts The BMI Research Collection which can be found here.

For Max Harris and other Audio Visual collection enquiries visit this page and enjoy curated exhibitions in the Library.


Membership is open to all, and gives access to:

  • the lending library,
  • heritage collection,
  • Reading Room,
  • a monthly newsletter and
  • discounts on BMI events and venue hire.

For more information on membership – Click Here


To view the book listings of the lending library and the heritage collection (reference only) – click here.

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm

Saturday 9.30 to Noon

Phone (03) 5331 3042


The BMI Collections includes hardback, paperback, DVDs, and talking book cassettes across a number of genres including latest releases and old favourites in crime fiction, mystery and suspense, Scandinavian thrillers, great Australian writers, and a great range of non-fiction titles. Plus, there are complete sets of ‘same character’ series – numbered in sequence on the spine.

Despite the library operating in a heritage space, everything that could be expected in a modern library can be found at the BMI, such as free internet access, photocopying, local daily newspapers and a reading area with comfortable armchairs.


Find A Book

Explore our fiction and non fiction catalogues here

Fiction catalogue

Non-Fiction catalogue

DVDs for loan

We are soon to be the beneficiaries of the Ballarat Film Society DVD collection- keep an eye out for more great films to borrow

New Books

New books are added to the collection for borrowing each month, which will be in our monthly newsletter and on our web page.


Book Club

We have three book clubs – two on Saturdays and one on Monday night, contact the library if you are interested.


Book Sales

Now and again the collection is reviewed and some surplus, duplicate or non-current titles are made available for sale in the library. Keep an eye on the newsletter of latest news page for updates.



We do take donations of books in good order.

Who was Mr Batten?

The lending library plays a major role in the life of the institute and services over 600 members. For most of its years it has been known as the “Reading Room” but was renamed the “Batten Room” in 2000. This was to recognise the first of two paid BMI secretaries and head Librarians: WH Batten and his son HC Batten. Between them they served in these positions for 92 years: remarkable terms of office.

William served from 1859 – 1910 and Harry from 1910 – 1951. William had two wives (the first died) and 19 children.

The lending library is part of the original 1860 building that comprised the reading room, library, office and two classrooms on the ground floor. A large hall, capable of accommodating 1200 people occupied the upper floor. The building cost around £3400.