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The Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute Research Collection


This is a static reference collection and as such, does not acquire or withdraw material.

The collection contains some 16,000 books (predominately non-fiction), 1592 volumes of newspapers (predominantly Victorian), periodicals, documents and artefacts that have been acquired progressively since the opening of the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute in 1859. The main part of the collection is in print format and was acquired by the Institute during the second half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. It is a rare example of the range of reading material available to the citizens of Ballarat and District at this time.
The collection is considered to be of State and National significance and was registered with Heritage Victoria on 9 August, 2007 – Heritage Register No. 2096.

The BMI has a collection of books and newspapers that has been acquired from the time the Institute opened, most of which can now be found in the BMI’s extensive catalogue.

These consist of a total of 26,961 fiction and non-fiction books. Of these 15,189 are considered worthy of conservation.

They include:-

176 books published before 1800

5,255 published 1801-1900

5,155 published 1901-1950

4603 our volunteers are still confirming the date of publication


The many plates on the books reflect the diversity of their origins.

Most plates have Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute provenance, however, the range indicate that when other institutions closed or discontinued services, the BMI gained a variety of titles.

The plates include:

Creswick Mechanics’ Institute

Institute City of Ballarat Free library

Talbot M.I.

Ballarat East Public library

Smythesdale M.I.

Newtown Library

Carngham M.I.

Ararat City library

Clunes M.I.

Bllt. Young Mens Debating Soc

Skipton M.I.

Bacchus Marsh Public Library

Beaufort M.I.

Young Men’s General Debating Society

Dean M.I.

Victorian Subscription Library

Armhurst M.I.

Smeaton Free Library

Snake Valley M.I.

Tallygaroopna Free library

Warraknabeal M.I.

Methodist Ladies College

Melbourne Athenaeum M.I.

Scarsdale Public Library

Maryborough Free Library

Ballarat Municipal Library

Lexton Free Library

Ballarat Ironworkers & Polytechnic Assoc.

Clunes Free library

Ararat Regional library

Talbot Public library

Mullin’s library

Ballarat Commercial Club

Sebastopol Free Library

Lydiard Street Lending library

Skipton Public library

Public Library of Victoria

RMIT Libraries

Aquinus University Ballarat.

Central Highlands Regional Library

Barham Library

Ballarat Caledonian Society

Ballarat Rate office