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About UsWarrnambool Library History
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Warrnambool Library History

South West Institute of TAFE‘s Student Learning Centre houses the Library, Off-Campus Studies Unit, Study Skills, Multimedia Services and Reprographics. It is a multi-purpose building, and has been throughout its one hundred and thirty eight year history. Over that time it has played an important part in the educational, social, cultural, economic and military life of Warrnambool and the surrounding district.

Its links with education extend back to November 1869 when Ira Aldridge opened a Day School in the hall after his school in Kepler Street had outgrown its site. The curriculum covered a range of subjects including English, ‘algebra & c.’, classics, commercial studies and sewing. James Martin filled the position of ‘Second Master’, and Mrs Martin was ‘Sewing Mistress’. Fees ranged from 1/- to 1/6 per week. End of term examinations were held on site, and prizes awarded to the students who achieved the best results. James Kirby operated his ‘Commercial School’ temporarily in the Orderly Room between 1870 and 1872.

Warrnambool’s earliest purpose-built hall, the Orderly Room, was built in 1868 on a section of the site granted by the Government to the Warrnambool Detachment, Western Corps Royal Victorian Volunteer Artillery at the corner of Kepler and Merri Streets. Prior to that time small halls were attached to some of the hotels, including the Royal Exchange Hotel. In March 1869, through the efforts of Captain Cramer, the land on which the Orderly Room stood, and that adjacent to it was permanently reserved by the Government for the volunteer militia.

Attempts to form a volunteer unit in Warrnambool took place as early as 1855, during the Crimean War. From December 1854 the State Government permitted the formation of volunteer units, and contributed towards arming them. At the time many Victorians were intent on making their fortune on the goldfields, while others on the coast feared an attack by Russian warships...