Although I am part of preservation, I will mainly blog about what goes on in the bindery. With around 10 million books, there is no shortage of work for Dave, Neale and I. Let me state that I am not a paper conservator; I used to be a picture framer, and used conservation techniques such as hinging with japanese tissue and paste to give the work the best possible chance of survival. I would often get pictures that had been sticky taped to a backing, and boy, and they often left sticky residue and marks on the art works.
It's a friday, and the view from the fourth floor on this late spring day is gorgeous. I'm thinking i'm not so new now: i started in January, after 6 months of volunteering in the bindery. I love every minute of it. Every book is different, and my jobs at the moment are pretty much routine stuff: sewing, drilling (yes, we drill through books), glueing and making boxes. But because books are all different shapes and sizes, one job is never the same, even if the items appear the same size. In July last year I became a volunteer for preservation, in the bindery.
The National Library and the State Library of South Australia have recently preserved two major South Australian newspapers – the Sunday Mail (1956-1977) and the Chronicle (1955-1975). Both of these newspapers have been microfilmed through the National Library’s cooperative newspaper microfilming program. The rich newspaper heritage of SA provides a unique window into Australian life.
For a number of years one of the big ticket items included in the National Library’s digitisation program has been the Wolfgang Sievers Archive. It’s not just one of the most prestigious collections in the library, it’s also one of the biggest with more than 60,000 items in total. This includes many boxes of small black and white prints, several albums of colour prints, hundreds of large exhibition-quality prints, and thousands upon thousands of original negatives and transparencies.
Regional Australian newspapers are valued for the unique record of life in their communities which they provide. From local news to local personalities, sport to fashions, these newspapers shed light on the life and occupations of the people who inhabited these places. Sometimes the only newspaper circulating in the area at the time, they provide a vital source of information for researchers studying the history and events of a town or district and for genealogists tracing family histories.
This month a number of Australian libraries will complete microfilming projects to save some of Australia’s ‘at risk’ newspapers. That’s caused me to reflect on the vast amount of Australian newspaper heritage that is now available for us all to explore. Over the years, the National Library has provided around $2 million to the state and territory libraries to rescue newspapers which may be fragile, in heavy demand, or otherwise ‘at risk’. (Lately, that’s been adding about 500 reels of microfilm, or approximately 350,000 newspaper pages, per year to the national collection).