The Carmelite Library is Australia’s finest specialised collection of books and journals in the area of spirituality and mysticism. It has been called “a national treasure”.
The Library belongs to the Australia-East Timor Province of the Carmelite Friars, a Catholic religious order which originated on Mt Carmel in the Holy Land in the late 12th century and has been in Melbourne since 1882.
Originally a general theological collection, the library now specialises in Carmelitana, Spirituality, and Mariology.
In recent years there has been unprecedented interest in spirituality in the Australian community.
The Carmelite Library is an especially rich collection of books, journals and research materials in this area, particularly in Christian mysticism and spirituality, but also embracing other spiritual traditions. Located in Kew from 1928 and Donvale from 1937, in November 2002 it was relocated to more spacious and accessible premises in the heritage Carmelite Hall (1918) in Middle Park. This is the first step in a development process which is expected to make this unique library an important centre for spiritual enrichment, for academic study of spirituality and mysticism, and for inter-faith dialogue.
Although the Carmelite Friars always welcomed visitors to their library, for most of its history it remained in practice a hidden monastic treasure. Its relocation means the Library now offers easier access and more comfortable facilities for users. We want to continue to develop the Library so that this splendid collection can achieve its full potential as a local and national resource.
We want it to be a library for everyone interested in the spiritual journey: for church members, students of spirituality, scholars working on major research projects, members of the community in search of the wisdom the ages, and those seeking understanding between religions. We want to provide the Library with 21st-century facilities. We hope to redevelop the hall to create rooms for meetings, seminars, lectures and conversations in areas related to the great spiritual traditions represented in the Library’s collection.
We need help to finance renovations to the facilities and to provide for the Library’s long-term future through a sizeable endowment.
The Library’s collection has been built up over many decades. Something of its history and the nature of the collection is told in the following pages. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in Australia, so that it holds a unique place in what is now called the distributed national collection.
The Carmelites are convinced that to maintain a library such as this is a vote of confidence in our spiritual tradition and an act of hope for our spiritual future. We have a vision of excellence for this Library as a real treasure house of spiritual wisdom.
Can you help us make the vision a reality?