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  • The PMI Library will close at 11:30am on Friday 15 December for a staff function.

    The library will resume normal business hours on Monday 18 December.  We apologise for any inconvenience.





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  • The PMI Library will be closed during the Christmas/New Year holiday period:
    CLOSED: 12:00pm Friday 22 December 2017
    REOPEN: 9:30am on Monday 8 January 2018

    You will still be able to access our website and renew your items online during this time.  The book return chute will also be open.

    The PMI staff and committee would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year.


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  • Our railway and transport collection is growing all the time, and soon PMI members will have access to the library of the Australian Railway Historical Society as well. The PMI’s collection, though, is extensive in its own right. Everything from histories of specific lines, to more general company histories, to history of bus lines and car manufacturers, the PMI has them all. So whether you’re simply a railways and transport fan, or you’re researching a location, the PMI’s railway and transport collection can help.

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  • The indexes that the PMI holds range through everything from Australia’s Army war dead, to Victorian mining accidents. These indexes provide the primary resources, the footsteps of real people that get lost in the broader narrative of more general histories. For family history researchers in particular they can be invaluable.  The indexes can be found on the library computers under indexes.

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  • The PMI Library has more than 30,000 books for loan and a professional information service for our members, we provide a central resource for research into the history of Victoria.  We hold many titles that are unavailable elsewhere.  It is the only lending collection of its kind in Australia that is available for loan to the general public.

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Latest News

Prahran’s History on Display: Cato Street Archaeological Dig

Friday 20/10/2017

Image of Cato St Dig Site

Earlier this year the Cato Street carpark in Prahran was the site of an archaeological investigation ahead of commencement of the City of Stonnington’s recently announced landmark new urban redevelopment, Cato Square.

Artefacts from Melbourne’s early years have been unearthed in what was hailed as one of the area’s most significant archaeological finds.

Artefacts will be on display at the PMI Victorian History Library from Thursday 19 October until Friday 3 November 2017.

Instituting the Past: The inner mechanics of the PMI Victorian History Library (Blog) 

Monday 09/10/2017

Image of Blog

We are very excited to launch our Blog ‘Instituting the Past: the inner mechanics of the PMI Victorian History Library’.

This is a space where will be sharing book reviews and stories including a regular segment called Plotting History.

Plotting History tells the story of how a PMI Library member uses the library and gives a fascinating insight into their research. Our debut story is written by our Vice President, Dr. Judith Buckrich who can often be found in the library, hard at work researching and writing her books.

We really want our blog to be a collaboration between staff and members. We are looking for people who would like to contribute to Plotting History and submit a book reviews. If you are interested or have an idea about future content, please do not hesitate to contact us via phone, email or in person at the library.

You can visit our Blog at

Road Works Around St. Edmonds Road 

Tuesday 03/10/2017

For the next 2 months, there will be some detours in place while roadworks are undertaken in the area.

If you plan on driving to the library, please be aware that although it looks as though the road is closed you can access St. Edmonds Road from High Street.  The detour signs are advising that the road is closed at the Greville Street end.  There is a vehicle stationed on St. Edmonds Road assisting with traffic flow, they have been made aware that we have on-site parking available for members.

Grant Announcement 

Tuesday 18/09/2017

We are pleased to announce the successful outcome of our recent grant application as part of the 2017-18 Public Libraries Funding Program.  In her letter to the PMI, Minister for Local Government, the Hon Natalie Hutchins MP recognised the role that Victorian Mechanics’ Institutes plan in providing services to the community and confirmed they will provide $10,000 to assist the PMI to continue to provide library services to our local community.

This demonstrates the ongoing value and access to resources on local history we provide to the community.

2017 PMI Press Publication Where Did All the Blacksmiths Go? by Shirley Xanthos

The PMI Press is excited to announce its latest publication, Where Did All the Blacksmiths Go? written by Shirley Xanthos.

Thousands of years ago man made fire, man heated rock, man discovered by heating rock he could improve his weapons for hunting for food. This same man became intelligent enough to improve on these procedures and began making more sophisticated implements and weapons. This man became known as a blacksmith. With these skilful men communities grew, villages became towns, towns became cities and with growth came hunger and criminals. Britain sent its undesirables to the new colonies. Australia benefited from the abilities of these men but industrialisation raised factories and with them the loss of thousands of skilled tradesmen. So where did all the blacksmiths go?

You can find out more this title and others on the PMI Press Publications page.

Notice of 2017 Annual General Meeting

Tuesday. 02/05/2017

In accordance with Section 5 of the Rules of the Prahran Mechanics’ Institute and Circulation Library 2007 (constituted under the Prahran Mechanics’ Institute Act No. 1617, 27 October 1899) I hereby announce the notice of our forthcoming Annual General Meeting to be held on Thursday 25 May 2017 commencing at 6.00pm at 39 St Edmonds Road, Prahran.

The meeting will include the appointment of one member to the PMI Committee. Please contact Steven Haby, Secretary Librarian by phone (03 9510 3393) or email if you would like to receive a nomination form.

The meeting will be followed by a presentation by noted Melbourne historian, journalist, film maker and raconteur Lesley Sharon Rosenthal who will talk about filmmaking and its role in documenting history.  This will include a short film presentation.

You can download a PDF version of the AGM Agenda here.

W.H. Blakeley Book Launch

Monday, 20/02/2017

The PMI Library staff attended the book launch of W.H. Blakeley: pioneer saw maker, farmer &​ trade unionist written by PMI Library Member Helen Blakey about her Grandfather, William Henry Blakeley on 8 March 2017. The launch was held at Main Ridge Bowls Club and hosted by the Dromana & District Historical Society, in conjunction with the Red Hill District Lions Club. It was a lovely evening with lots of support shown for Helen’s book. Secretary Librarian, Steven Haby also managed to win one of the raffles on the night. We would like to extend our best wishes to Helen and her new book. About the Book William Henry Blakeley, the unsung, red-headed, trail-blazing hero of the book, embraces the Colony, uses his industrial skills to build a business concurrently with that of a Trade Society, and farms at Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula. As the first saw manufacturer in Australia, he expands his firm and his reputation, prospects and invests in gold, supports inventions, and embraces the Great Exhibitions of the 1880s. He survives the 1890s Depression, recovers from a financial catastrophe that would have overwhelmed a lesser person, and secures W.H Blakeley’s enterprising contribution to the economic advancement of a new nation. W.H. Blakeley: Pioneer saw maker, farmer &​ trade unionist is available for loan from the PMI Library.

Book Cover Helen Blakeley signing book

Volunteer News

Friday, 17/02/2017

One of our dedicated volunteers, John, turned 80 a couple of weeks ago and still came in on his birthday to volunteer. We thought that was worth a cake! John has been a volunteer at the PMI since 2013 helping to cover our books. Thanks for your help John, we hope you had a great birthday.

Image of John with Birthday Cake Image of John's Cake

Friends of the PMI Library Second-Hand Book Sale

Monday, 13/02/2017 The Friends of the PMI Library will be holding their first book sale for this year on Sunday 26 March 2017 from 10:30am-3:00pm. Categories include History, Military, Australiana, Literature, Nature, Biographies, Cinema and more. The PMI Library will also be open during this time for those who wish to utilise the library facilities.

PMI Library Staff Updates

Tuesday, 13/12/2016 We are both happy and sad to announce that after 16 years at the PMI, Tim McKenna (Secretary Librarian) is officially retiring from his position at the end of this year. Read more…

2016 Victorian Community History Awards

Thursday, 20/10/2016 PMI would like to congratulate the winners of the 2016 Victorian Community History Awards. In particular, we would like to congratulate members Pam Baragwanath and Ken James who were the overall prize winners for ‘These Walls Speak Volumes’ and our Vice President, Judith Buckrich who was the recipient of the Local History – Small Publication Award for ‘The Village of Ripponlea’.  Read more…

Announcement: 2016 Short History Prize Winner 

Tuesday, 18/10/2016 The Prahran Mechanics’ Institute would like to congratulate Neville Lee from the Camberwell Historical Society for his entry The Story of Ashburton Through the Ages. This year’s winner is a well-researched and detailed description of the development of this little known area of greater Melbourne. Interestingly told with detail of the wider history as well as what happened locally, it is also well illustrated with maps and photographs. The author receives $500, a certificate and a PMI voucher and the nominated historical society also receives $500. Read more…


The PMI Library is a community owned and run library specialising in the history of Victoria, Australia.

We have over 30,000 books for loan and a professional information service for our members. We provide a central resource for research into the history of Victoria.

Joining is easy, affordable and open to all.

The PMI is also the home of special collections of the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria, the Cinema & Theatre Historical Society and the Australian Railway Historical Society (Vic.).

Opening Hours

Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri: 9.30am-4.30pm
Thu: 9.30am-7.00pm

Except for Victorian public holidays and the Christmas-New Year period.

T: 03 9510 3393 or email us here