On 13 March 1963, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II became the first reigning monarch to preside at the opening of an Australian library when she opened the R.G. Menzies Building. The event was an important milestone in the history of ANU and the development of Canberra.

The Queen standing at a microphone.

Queen Elizabeth II officially opens the Menzies Library during the 1963 Royal Tour of Australia. ANU Archives.

The gala event, part of Her Majesty's Royal Tour, was telecast live on Australian television and included speeches by the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the University. You can watch the proceedings by following the link below.

The building was named after Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, due to his longstanding associations with the development of tertiary education and research and the ANU in particular. He laid the foundation stone for the building in 1961. It was the first purpose-built library on the ANU campus, created to house the then Institute of Advanced Studies collections. Today, it holds one of the largest collections of Asian language scholarly resources in Australia.

The building's design combined elements of the International Style, evident from its simple cubic shape, with Brutalism, seen in its linear and fortress-like design. Architects Collard, Clarke and Jackson modelled parts of the design on American architect Frank Lloyd Wright's use of stone, concrete, and copper roofs in his 'prarie' style buildings. The pink and grey stones were placed on the exterior façade to ease the contrast between the different sections of the building. Many of the library's original interior features remain intact, notably the card catalogues, map cabinet and furniture designed by Fred Ward and the ANU Design Unit.