If we could only retain the child’s innocence, enquiring spirit and wonder, the eyes that see someone as a potential source of fun and comfort, not as a label or category, how different might the world be? These sentiments prompted a remarkable cross-cultural doll ambassador program in 1927 and the Library has recently acquired a beautiful and poignant example of a "thank you" that resulted.
There are four display cabinets outside the Asian Collections Reading Room on the third floor of the National Library of Australia. Back in September, my colleague Deb and I were asked to create October/November’s display of Asian Ghosts and Monsters due to our love of the horror genre.
Each month when I go upstairs to the Manuscripts Reading Room to get a new box of comics from the John Ryan collection to catalogue, it feels like Christmas to me. I am just so excited at finding out what’s in the box, and waking up all the titles that have been lying dormant for nigh on thirty years.
The war to end all wars. How everyone longed for this to be true in 1918, yet sadly how mistaken was this belief. Looking back from a distance of 100 years at the horror, the suffering, the unimaginable waste and futility of it all, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the statistics of lives lost or permanently shattered, and to focus instead on analysing the politics and the actions of the major players. There is a tendency to lose sight of what the war meant to so many individuals.
The John Ryan Comic Collection is a collection of Australian and overseas comics purchased from Mrs John Ryan back in June 1981. It has remained largely uncatalogued in the Library for over thirty years, and was represented in the catalogue by just one collection record.
Some comics become an instant success, enjoying great popular appeal and lasting for decades. Others may slowly develop a devoted cult following and inspire clubs, fanzines, and blogs. Sadly, there also comics that begin with high-hopes but last only a brief time and soon fade into obscurity. For the National Library of Australia, it is particularly important that this latter category is collected and preserved as there may be few copies retained elsewhere, and they provide an important insight into the culture and publishing history of the time.
Spring – “to leap, burst forth, fly up, spread, grow”. A name that in temperate climes we have come to apply to the season that emerges with freshness and new life from dormant winter’s cold, as well as to water rising forth unexpectedly from beneath the ground. An inspiration for artists, composers and writers throughout the ages, a source of beauty for everyone, and on a more prosaic level, sustenance for us all.