In October 2014 Benalla's New Library opened.
There is information of this Momentous Occasion below.
Library #1 - Mechanics Institute
Mechanics' Institutes were formed to provide adult
education, particularly in technical subjects, to
working men. They were used as libraries for the working
class, and provided them with a chance to better
On 28th January 1870, the Benalla Mechanics Institute
was opened. In 1900, Benalla is reported as boasting
three banks, and a Mechanics Institute housing 2,100
volumes in its library (Benalla Cavalcade, p.82)
Libraries #2 - Private & Public
Benalla Cavalcade reports that after The Second World War
the old Mechanics Institute Library was been replaced by a
In 1921, Mrs. Ellen Greenwood took over a private
Library, thought to be somewhere near the current Post
In May 1965, the Borough Council invited the Benalla
Free Library Promotion Committee to organise
and present an historical exhibition to coincide with
the celebrations marking the proclamation of the City.
In response to publicity in the local press, many people
in the district loaned, or donated, items of historical
These were displayed in a disused dry-cleaning plant.
In response to popular demand, the exhibition remained
open for a second week. During the fortnight more than
1,100 people signed the visitor's book, and many more
attended the exhibition. (Benalla Cavalcade, Page 169)
The Rex Library
An an inventory/record loaned by the daughter of Mary
Webster shows that Mary Webster (nee King) operated a
private lending library between May 1940 and July 1946.
The library was called The Rex Lending Library, and was
situated in rented premises in 36 Nunn Street.
The "Benalla Standard" of Friday May 3rd, 1940, in
"Prittle Prattle and Round About" by Pippa, reports, "Some
400 new books will be at the disposal of Benalla and
District when the Rex Library in Nunn Street opens at
3 o'clock this afternoon. Miss Mary King has selected
a good range to suit all tastes and a visit to the
library would prove interesting and enjoyable to book
On May 10th the "Benalla Standard" carried an
advertisement about the Rex Library giving details of
opening hours, and deposit cost - one shilling.
Receipts from "Herbert Ledger, Wann and Co", the Estate
Agent to whom the rent was paid, show that 10 shillings
per week was paid for rent in 1946.
There are 1808 books detailed, their names and numbers
written in neat pen and ink script. The handwriting
correlates to those who signed the rent payments,
possibly staff members. The books were purchased from
Drake, Gordon and Gotch, Robertson and Mullens, Collins,
Kelly, and Edwards and Dunlop
The titles of the books indicate that they were mostly
novels - mystery, romance, western, war stories, with
some biographies and other non fiction books. Some
interesting titles are: "The Case of the Stuttering
Bishop", "The D.A. called it Murder", "The Seven Seas
Murder", "Guns of the Round Stone Valley", "Memoirs of a
Soviet Diplomat", "Edgar Wallace - a Biography", and
"The Cardigan Cowboy". The record indicates that new
books were regularly purchased during the library's
existence, and regular payments to Ambler and Neway,
- Wireless - 9 pounds, 9 shillings.
- Furniture (Stolz) - 7 pounds, 10 shillings and 6
- Card box - 4 shillings
- Wireless licence - 1 pound, one shilling.
- Thinner - 1 shilling
- Clag and brush - 1 shilling and 7 pence.
- Ink, writing paper (Coles) - 5 shillings
- 3SR, Standard (possibly advertising) - 2 pounds, 5
shillings and 6 pence
- Electricity account - 10 shillings and 6 pence
- Wood (Mr. Woodbury) - 15 shillings
- Red lead pencil and nibs - 7 pence
- Insurance - 14 pounds and 2 pence
- Wages - July 1941 - July 1942 - 6 pounds
Borrowed books were recorded on library cards with the
borrower's name on the card. The number of the book was
written on the card and crossed off when the book was
returned. In the front of the record, there is a
pencilled entry " - sold books to Mr. H. Woodrow - 100
pounds - 3-9-46." This may indicate what happened
to the books when the library closed.
From a report by Robyn MacLean
Awaiting Benalla's New Library
In 1968 the Benalla Library was temporarily housed in
the old RSL building in Nunn St.
There it remained for 46 years. With louvre windows and
not enough storage space, leaves blew in through the
ventilation and termites gnawed at the walls. But at
least it was a library. The librarians swept up the
leaves, and Friends of Benalla Library held meetings in
the cramped kitchen.
Eager usage by the people of Benalla was recorded by the
door counter, library records, and those coming in for
books, newspapers, research, e-books, DVDs, Internet
Access, Internet usage... etc.
However, many in power insisted libraries were no longer
relevant. So the Friends of Benalla Library marched;
Until at last the Civic Centre by the lake, which the
council had long since outgrown, was re-fitted as a
And the Friends of Benalla Library were there, every
step of the way.
On Saturday October 25th 2014, the "Weary Dunlop
Learning Centre" (that is, the Benalla Library) was
here for a biography of Weary Dunop