Andrei Grigorievich Tarala was born in Siberia in 1893. He served in the Imperial Russian Army during World War I. In 1922, together with other soldiers of the White Armies, he fled to China and eventually settled in Harbin. In the 1930s he worked with the Chinese Eastern Railway Company. In 1963 he and his wife migrated to Australia and for a few years they lived in rural Victoria. They later settled in Sydney.
Tarala began collecting books in the 1920s. After 1949 he acquired a number of book collections of Russian émigrés who were forced to leave China. He brought many of these books with him to Australia in 1963. He continued to collect Russian books and for a while carried on a bookselling business.
Selected books from the collection were purchased by the Library from Andrei Tarala in 1983.
The collection comprises 431 titles amounting to 970 volumes. The particular strength of the collection is Russian works published in countries other than the Soviet Union, including China, the United States, and Australia, in the years after 1917. It can be divided into the following groupings:
Australian monographs, 1965-76 (12 titles)
Fine arts, 1899-1936 (14 titles)
History, 1888-1978 (182 titles)
Language and literature, 1897-1979 (85 titles)
Miscellaneous, 1853-1978 (74 titles)
Philosophy, 1921-57 (10 titles)
Serials, 1926-78 (50 titles)
The serials exemplify the wide geographical coverage of the collection as a whole, as they were published in Brussels, Paris, New York, Munich, Shanghai, Winnipeg, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires, Riga, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Berlin, Edmonton, Geneva and Sydney.
The Tarala Collection has been kept together as a formed collection within the general collection. The books have been catalogued individually; the call numbers have the prefix TAR.