Work began on the Library construction in 1968. This was when it was known as Ballarat College of Advanced Education - Mount Helen. The Library started on the ground floor in 1970. In 1971 a contract for a four-storey library was drawn up and construction began the same year. The building opened in 1973, occupying two stories of the current building. The library grew and with Commonwealth Grants was able to develop its collection. In 1987 the library achieved an annual budget of over $1 million. The Teachers Resource Collection was added and by 1989 the library expected to occupy the top three floors plus the lower ground floor. A flexible study area on the top floor was introduced 1990-1991. 2010 saw the completion of a new stage in the history of the library. It now includes new study and research areas including the Geoffrey Blainey Research Centre with access to the University's Art and Historical Collection. The E. J. Barker Library is named after a former Principal of the School of Mines Ballarat who then became the first Director of the Ballarat College of Advanced Education, now Federation University. Jack Barker played an active part in education and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. After retirement in 1987, the College Council decided to name the Library after him in recognition of his achievements.
Colour photograph of the ground floor of the E.J. Barker Library showing the front desk and automatic book check out.