About the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library

About the Library Building

The Eddie Koiki Mabo Library in the early morning light, February 2020 © Photography by Rob Parsons.
Exterior view of the original Townsville Library building © Image courtesy of JCU.

Architecture shapes people and places, and the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library has helped shape James Cook University. Designed by architect James Birrell, the library is an outstanding example of 1960s Brutalist architecture.

The university campus was originally designed to act as a natural amphitheatre and, situated at the core of the original design, the library was intended to make a powerful architectural statement. Moreover, beyond the impact of the building, the library itself enriches the student experience at JCU and is a vibrant and innovative environment for student scholarship.

Along with its own important history, the library has a special connection to the story of Eddie Koiki Mabo. The iconic status of the building was cemented in Australia’s history in 2008, when it was officially named the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library by Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Sandra Harding AO and former Chancellor, Lt Gen Dr John Grey AC.

1968 Stage 1 of the library was completed.
1976 Stage 2 of the library was completed.
1990 The library underwent a major extension that integrated the old and new aspects of the space. The ‘wrap around’ design preserved the original features of the building, while the increase of 2000m2 allowed for significant growth of collections and an enormous increase in user friendly spaces.
2006 The library was awarded the 25-Year Architecture Award in 2006 by the Australian Institute of Architects – Queensland Chapter.
2008 The James Cook University Douglas campus library was named the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library.
2010- 2017 A series of major redevelopments to the library included three new entrances, a new café, the Information Commons, the award-winning Verandah Walk, and a series of modern, collaborative learning spaces. New outdoor seating was included in the redevelopment on both the north east and north west sides, giving students the opportunity to engage with the campus landscape
2014 Eddie Koiki Mabo Library building was included in the places of cultural heritage value list by Townsville City Council.
2018 Eddie Koiki Mabo Library building was recognised as one of Australia’s top ten iconic architectural sites by the University of Melbourne’s top architectural experts.
2019 Eddie Koiki Mabo Library building was recognised as one of Australia’s top ten concrete public architectural works by Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia.
2020 As part of JCU’s 50th anniversary projects the Mabo Interpretive Wall was installed on the ground floor of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library.



Eddie Koiki Mabo: History in the Making Copyright © by James Cook University Library. All Rights Reserved.