- What we collect
- Preserving our collections
- Building our collections
- Selected Library collections
- Collection statistics
- History of the collection
- Processing and describing our collections
This report offers a review of recent significant acquisitions by the Library and of collecting activities. It does not describe the large volume of acquisitions of both Australian and overseas materials that are routinely acquired through deposit, purchase or donation.
Australian books and journals
The Library continues to work with large publishing houses in transitioning from print to digital legal depsoit. We were pleased to se CSIRO Publishing beging to deposit electronic publications such as The allure of fungi, Bees of Australia : a photographic exploration, Guide to venomous and medically important invertebrates, and Night parrot.
116 Australian journals from academic publisher Sage were successfully transitioned to electronic deposit. Titles include Media international Australia, Australian journal of management, Australian journal of education and EJA: evaluation journal of Australasia.
Materials acquired from non-English speaking communities continue to reflect varying responses to life in Australia. Two new newspapers were deposited, Australian Macedonian today = Awstralisko Makedonski denes and The Australian panorama Arabic newspaper. A new Chinese-English bilingual monthly magazine CBRLife = 堪 生 活 is now being received through legal deposit. Published by a group of young Chinese Australians, it is a ‘magazine for Chinese Australians living in Canberra, recording their lives and memories with connection of this City'.
While many multicultural publishers are pleased to deposit their works with the Library, others can be less responsive to the Library’s standard ‘official’ approach. There was a good example recently with the acquisition of three volumes of Aodaliya hua ren nian jian = Yearbook of Chinese in Australia, which we believe to be the first Chinese language yearbooks published in Australia. The acquisition was achieved indirectly, as the publisher did not respond to direct approaches requesting deposit. One of the Library’s volunteers made contact with the editor via his personal network, at which point the volumes were deposited. In these situations, the ‘community-based’ collecting approach is liable to be more successful, and applies in a multitude of other situations as we.
As a result of promoting the edeposit service to newspaper publishers, the Library successfully transitioned an additional 17 print titles to electronic deposit. We were pleased to receive several regional papers from Fairfax Media, including Nambucca guardian news, The Bellingen shire courier-sun, The Macleay argus, Camden haven courier, Gloucester advocate, Mid-coast observer, Port Macquarie news and Wingham chronicle.
Regional publishing generally can be a vibrant if less visible element of the Australian deposit program. In a community writing and publishing initiative, Tasmanian authors who write for leisure, pleasure or necessity were asked to contribute a piece of work on any subject for publication. Their output was captured in a 110-volume one-off set up publications as The people's library with rainbow-coloured bindings, installed for public viewing at Salamanca Arts Centre in Hobart. The entire work, described as ‘part performance library, part contemporary artwork’ was deposited in September 2018.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer (LGBTQ) characters and themes are often underrepresented in mainstream publishing, with differing moral and economic views on its merits and value. The Library’s LGBTQ collection has nevertheless been growing, and continues to document changing social attitudes. Over 80 titles on the topic in print and ebook formats have been added to the collection in the last six months. They include Serving in silence? : Australian LGBT servicemen and women, and Trans dilemmas : living in Australia’s remote areas and in Aboriginal communities, which presents the findings of a three-year research project which examined the lived experiences of transgender people in the Northern Territory. The Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council, a non-government peak body, deposited Living and loving in diversity: an anthology of Australian multicultural queer adventures the publication has a 'Welcome to Book' foreword by Annette Xiberras, lesbian Wurundjeri Elder. Going postal : more than 'Yes' or 'No' one year on : writings from the marriage equality survey, is an edited collection documenting the marriage equality postal vote, published by Brow Books, the imprint of non-profit literary organisation The Lifted Brow.
Published biographies and memoirs are important primary records of people, places and events, but many of them never reach the heights of the national book awards scene. One such title is Living in hope, telling the story of the late Frank Byrne, a member of the Stolen Generation. His book won the Small Press Network’s 2018 Most Underrated Book Award, regarded by the judges an “important story of survival and hope".
The missing man: from the outback to Tarakan, is the remarkable story of Len Waters, the RAAF's only WWII Aboriginal fighter pilot. Ninu grandmother's law, the autobiography Nura Nungalka Ward a Yankunytjatjara woman from the Central Desert. Part biography, part customs manual and food guide, part traditional social history and women’s customs and governance, the book is a definitive account of a traditional lifestyle and way of thinking. In contemporary contrast is the first book by Fijian-Indian Zoya Patel No country woman (Hachette, 2018), a self-described feminist memoir about ‘never knowing where you belong … not feeling represented in the media you consumed, not being connected to the culture of your forebears, not having the respect of your peers’. Patel writes about living in a multicultural society with a monocultural focus but being determined to be hear.
Turning to the 19th century, this was a time when travelers were frequently moved to write at some length about their journeys and experiences. Notes of a trip to India and Ceylon, an anonymous privately published account of a journey ‘in search of health’ undertaken from Glenelg, South Australia, on 8 December 1883, by a self-confident Australian colonial who embarks on a voyage not ‘Home’ or on a European tour but to our nearer neighbours. The author appears to have been associated with the Moulden family, a dynasty of well-established Adelaide lawyers. It is an early example of what could be called Australian middle-class tourism, perhaps the first such documented account of travel by an Australian tourist in India.
Two late nineteenth century English titles published in Japan by Australian expatriate authors: Don Juan's grandson in Japan, a long poem published in Tokyo in 1890 by James Murdoch (1856-1921); and The Club Hotel guide: how to spend a month in Tokyo and Yokohama, an 1890 tourist guide published in Yokohama by author and poet Douglas Sladen (1856-1947), complementing the Library’s H. S. Williams Collection.
The little enquirer ; or, instructive conversations for children from five to six years of age. A small and charming example of early 19th century juvenile literature published in London by Darton and Harvey (1830) and written as a series of conversations between a mother and a child. The text references New Holland and the wombat, and is illustrated with a hand coloured plate of a wombat at full stretch, derived from David Collins’ Account of the English colony. Quaker publishers such as William Darton and Joseph Harvey pioneered the publication of children’s books in England. This work favours instructive prose, and also refer to the new colony as a place where “people who steal or do wicked things in this country [England], are sometimes sent there, away from all their friends, as a punishment, and there they are made to work hard…”.
In later times and other countries, perceptions of Australia varied. The Library was fortunate to secure Природа и люди Австралии : пособие для учащихся = Nature and people of Australia : student's manual, a textbook published by the editorial board of the journal Женское Образование = Women's Education in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1886. A short 15 years later the Russian historian Pavel Mizhuev began writing about Australia in Счастлива Австралиія (Lucky Australia: Australian social legislation and its results). This copy is the second edition of his study of Australian social and economic policies from Federation up to 1918, published shortly after the Russian Revolution. In the early twentieth century, the young nation of Australia was viewed as a progressive social laboratory that might provide inspiration for the implementation of similar policies in Russia. The Library also holds the first 1909 edition.
Ephemera and posters
The market for 20th century travel and advertising posters remains strong and acquisitions over the period include:
- Commonwealth Government Line to Australia by 14,000 ton new twin screw steamers, showing the ports serviced by this relatively short lived government owned shipping line [circa 1916-23]
- A rosy image of an Australian harvest features in Australia, a travel or possibly immigration poster by former official war artist A. H. Fullwood. It was probably executed in England after the end of World War I and before his departure for Sydney in February 1920.
- Citrus fruit is nature's way to keep you fit for work and play! is a Victorian Railways poster from possibly as early as 1924, with images of tiny figures indulging a wide variety of leisure activities, clustered around a giant orange and two lemons.
Noteworthy additions to the collection include a first edition of Along the road to Gundagai by Jack O’Hagano. Published in 1922, the volume bears the portrait for Ernest Lauri who introduced the song and was known as the “Singing Anzac”.
Australian ballad : by Murray’s banks by S. H. Marsh, was self-published in Sydney between 1854 and 1859. This work is a musical setting of John Alexander Evelyn’s By Murray’s banks and was donated by his descendant who lives in California.
We acquired a collection of music scores written from the 1930s to the 1990s by the reclusive composer Joan Booty. Booty studied piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under Isador Goodman and although accomplished, turned to composition and studied under Dr Alex Burnard who dedicated two compositions to her. She spent the rest of her life in relative seclusion, composing.
Websites and online database publications
With the change of political leadership in August 2018, the Web Archiving team went into action to collect ministerial websites as events unfolded. When a minister leaves office in a premeditated or unpremeditated manner, his or her official website is immediately removed from the web, hence the need for urgency. The Department of Home Affairs contacted the team to ensure their content was collected, and was appreciative of the Library’s proactive approach.
Government website content grew with the bulk harvest of Commonwealth Government websites conducted in October collecting 1.5 terabytes of content or more than 19 million files. A harvest of 415 Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers tabled in the first half of 2018 was completed in August 2018.
Selective web archiving highlights include the website Indigenous Story, a project designed to encourage creativity and to gather, generate and host indigenous stories online.
Many Australian authors are re-published in translation by Asian publishers, with children’s books an increasing feature. During the last six months the Library has added to its holdings of bestselling adult and children's authors in translation, including Andy Griffiths’ Storey Treehouse series and The narrow road to the deep north, the 2014 Man Booker Prize winning novel by Richard Flanagan.
Of particular note is the Chinese version of a title from the Library’s own publishing arm, NLA Publishing’s Have you seen my egg? written by Penny Olsen and illustrated by Rhonda N. Garward, which won an award for China’s National Popular Science Books of Excellence 2017. This is one of the seven children’s books that the Library licensed to the National Library of China (NLC) Publishing House in 2017.
The Library continues to acquire retrospective political propaganda collections from China, Japan and Mainland South-East Asia including, most recently: a number of rare Red Guard publications (announcements, newspapers, ephemera) that complement the existing Chinese Communist Party holdings; two sets of 18 unbound political cartoons in their original sleeves supporting Vietnam against American ‘aggression’; and a range of Thai political ephemera (t-shirts, posters, pamphlets), many of which have been banned in Thailand.
Over the last six months, the Jakarta Office has been collating information on local publishers in provinces around Indonesia, and in October Office Manager Wishnu Hardi made the Library’s third acquisitions trip to Bali Province. Visiting organisations and publishers in person is highly effective to establish ongoing supply of their publishing output. Making these connections enables the Library to collect more broadly, demonstrating the value of feet on the ground in Jakarta.
The papers of feminist theologian Barbara Thiering (1930-2015), comprising primary source material, articles, unpublished papers and translations related to her extensive research on the Dead Sea Scrolls and other projects, have been donated by her family. Her semiotic and hermeneutic analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls led to her thesis that the scrolls recorded deliberately constructed myths rather than ‘miracles’. Her work divides academic and popular opinion.
Helga Griffin has donated the papers of her late husband Emeritus Professor James (Jim) Thomas Griffin—writer, teacher and historian with a special interest in Papua New Guinea. The collection includes Griffin's numerous writings and speeches, correspondence, and a large number of diaries and journals. Griffin was on the editorial board of the Catholic Worker Journal and the papers include an almost complete set of the magazine. There are research papers related to his book John Wren : a life reconsidered, including business papers that were previously unknown in scholarship.
Emeritus Professor Susan Sheridan, feminist and author, donated papers relating to her writings and research. Amongst the material is a letter and a card from Christina Stead, 1975-1976. Sheridan met Stead in Sydney, and later sent her a copy of Kate Jennings' poetry anthology Mother I’m rooted. Stead comments on the anthology in the letters, and on Sheridan's PhD project on literature and first-wave feminism.
Professor Libby Robin and Professor Tom Griffiths donated papers relating to Dick Kimber. Kimber has written extensively on the history, art, culture and wildlife of Central Australia, and has maintained a prodigious correspondence over many years with many thinkers and writers about that region. A program to collect his letters has been initiated by many of his correspondents, including Professor Griffiths. The collection includes documents relating to research on night parrots, together with information on Aboriginal communities of Central Australia. Professor Robin has also donated a collection of her personal papers relating to her work in environmental science.
Scientist Professor Graeme Clark, AC presented the Library with the prototypes of Cochlear Implant Receiver-Stimulators dating from 1979, 1982, 1985 and 1990, together with a bound volume created by patients in honour of Clark on his 80th birthday in 2015. This is an addition to Professor Clark’s extensive archive of papers relating to development of the cochlear implant.
The Library received many donations and additions to its collections, including:
- further papers of Sir William Keys, AC, OBE, MC, Australian veteran and a long-serving president of the Returned and Services League, comprising business and personal correspondence, letters from Keys to his mother during the war, appointment diaries, notebooks, photographs, battle plans, typescripts, awards and press clippings;
- further papers of Professor Peter Singer, moral philosopher, comprising letters written between 1973 and 2001 from Peter and Renata Singer to Mary Keshen, the wife of the Canadian philosopher Richard Keshen, who was instrumental in awakening interest in the ethical issue of the treatment of animals;
- further papers of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr Barrie Pittock, including professional correspondence and papers relating to Pittock’s climate change work with the CSIRO and his Indigenous rights activism.
The acquisition of the Map of the Third Military District showing Battalion and training areas under Defence Act 1903-18, adds to the Library’s strong collection of First Word War recruitment materials. Not previously listed in Trove, which indicates no other Australian holdings, the map was issued in 1917, as the Australian Government focus on recruitment entered a more systematic and concentrated phase.
Several maps of key early English migration counties were acquired, including a wonderfully detailed map of the county of Kent, made from an 1819-20 survey, showing details to the level of buildings such as churches, castles, manor houses, water and wind-mills, woods, plantations, heaths and commons. These will be of particular value to UK family history clients.
A small but significant formed collection of seven items connected with the merchant mariner Benjamin Francis (Frank) Helpman was acquired. Helpman made a number of intercolonial voyages between South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria in the 1840s-60s. Prior to this he had been on the Beagle, 1837-40, and published an account of the voyage. The maps and calculations appear to be connected to a voyage in August 1848, to bring the Right Reverend Augustus Short, Anglican Bishop of Adelaide, to Fremantle.
The Library has purchased an important topographical map of Java, Kaart van het eiland Java = Map of the island of Java published by German naturalist, ethnographer and explorer Frans Wilhelm Junghuhn, in 1855. The limited print- edition was acquired with a related publication signed by pioneer American naturalist of Indonesia, Dr Thomas Horsfield (1773-1859), whose manuscript map of Indonesia is also held by the Library. Junghuhn’s map is a very large-scale topographical map of the island, with known holdings of the map limited to a few research libraries in the Netherlands and Germany. There are no examples in an Australian library. The acquisition bridges a gap in the Library’s cartographic account of Indonesia, with excellent early detail of the island of Java.
The Library acquired a very rare and detailed map of Peking (Beijing), ca. 1860. The map copied from the survey of the Russian Army and published by the British War Office, shows the city and its environs, with an inset plan of Yuanming Yuan, the Old Summer Palace.
Photographic material of the Murray and Thursday Island communities, 1989-92, was acquired from filmmaker and photographer Dr Trevor Graham. Dr Graham produced the acclaimed biographical documentary, 'Mabo: Life of an Island Man' (1998). These images, a collection of 325 x 35 mm negatives, were taken during Dr Graham’s location scouting and during the Mabo case. A mixture of subjects, the material features plaintiffs and witnesses for the case, as well as island culture and life at that time. The material complements the papers of Edward Kioki Mabo and papers of Bryan Keon-Cohen and related accessions.
A portrait of Ainsley Gotto by renowned Australian artist June Mendoza was purchased, consolidating the Library's holdings relating to Gotto. It depicts Brisbane-born Gotto (1946-2018), who was a public servant and the private secretary of John Gorton. This portrait was in Gotto’s own collection.
A collection of 15 born-digital photographs of coal seam gas and mining sites, and associated protests, was purchased from award-winning photojournalist Dean Sewell. The photographs document infrastructure at sites such as the Chinchilla Gas fields, environmental impacts such as pollution in waterways, and major protests including the Narrabri and Newcastle harbour blockades.
Photojournalist Lance Nelson donated his photographic archive, which provides an insight into Australian life in the 1960s and 1970s. Nelson documented multicultural families, surf and country life, and candid portraits of high profile creatives such as Peter Sculthorpe, Russell Drysdale and Thea Astley. A highlight of the archive is Nelson’s three-year project photographing the daily life of a beekeeping family in Boggabri.
The Library purchased three 1864 watercolours of the East Coast of Cape York, painted by Alexander Rattray. The watercolours are highly significant as they represent one of the earliest pictorial depictions of the area, and show the coast of the Cockburn Islands, Cape Direction, and Capes Flinders and Melville from sea.
A photographic portrait of Daisy Kadibil, the inspiration for the book Follow the rabbit-proof fence and the subsequent film 'Rabbit Proof Fence', was purchased from artist Tobias Titz. The portrait is accompanied by a handwritten quote from Kadibil. A member of the Stolen Generation, Ms Kadibil was eight years old when she was taken from her family in 1931. The photograph was published in The New York Times.
The Library purchased a portrait of Howard Ashton, Esq. by the artist Hilda Rix Nicholas. This oil painting is one of Nicholas’ last, and represents the close relationship she had with art critic Julian Howard Ashton. The work complements her papers (MS 9817) which contain their ongoing correspondence.
Oral history and folklore
Dr Salvatore Rossano completed numerous recordings throughout Victoria and South Australia which capture the rich diversity of Australian migrant and refugee music and folkloric culture. Dr Rossanno was the 2018 National Folk Fellow, and is now conducting interviews for the Folklore collection. Highlights include Italian-Australian musicians Marcello D'Amico, Pauline D'Amico, Raffaela Villani, Benny Bafile and Diodoro Iuliano; Ukrainian-Australian bandura player Ihor Kushnir; Gambian-Australian kora player Amadou Suso; Gambian/Senegalese-Australian kora player Jali Buba Kuyateh; Chilean-Australian musicians Carlos Alquinta and Jose Alcides Rivera, Syrian-Australian oud player Zuhir Naji and the Songambele International Gospel Band, originally formed in a refugee camp in Tanzania, now based in Adelaide.
Caroline Baum travelled to Hobart, Tasmania, to interview award winning Australian author, Robert Dessaix. In a rich and extensive interview, he discussed the development of his career, his personal life and his literary influences. She also travelled to Bangalow, New South Wales to interview writer Robert Drewe. He provided new reflections on his prize winning memoir, The shark net, and talked extensively about the process of writing about his family and the impact of his father’s military service on the life of his family.
Interviews involved with the ongoing Australian Rural and Farm Women project continue to uncover and preserve accounts from a diverse and extraordinary group of women. Subjects have included pioneering freehold farmers, innovators in sustainable banana farming and Australian wildflower exporters, amongst many others. Interviewer Nikki Henningham’s extensive travels have included journeys to isolated parts of Far North Queensland and Western Australian. Connectivity and communication is still an issue in parts of Far North Queensland and at least one interview in this area had to be arranged through the postal system as telecommunications were not in operation. Nikki also travelled to Esperance in Western Australia, where she interviewed farming pioneer Belinda Lay, and Sue Middleton, who was named Australia’s Rural Woman of the Year in 2010. This project is providing insight into the extensive and largely unrecognised contribution that diverse rural women have made in many fields and continue to make across the country, as well as the challenges that these women confront and meet.
Cairns fisherman Carlyle Ranasinghe and marine scientist Lyle Squire were interviewed by Gregg Borschmann for the Great Barrier Reef project, which explores the economic, cultural and environmental significance of this 2300 kilometre ecosystem. These interviews also provide important context to the multi-million dollar industry of the farming of live fish and coral for use in aquariums and zoos around the world. Lyle Squire described the way his own perspective and relationship to the reef had changed over time. Formerly he had viewed the reef exclusively as a source of income, however today he operates his business in an environmentally sustainable way and is concerned with protecting the reef as a rare and incomparable natural wonder for future generations.
Peter Read, Professor of Aboriginal history, oral history, biography and place, conducted interviews with the Seven years on – continuing life histories of Aboriginal leaders project. Interviewees included Frances Peters-Little, filmmaker and ANU Research Fellow, and Jackie Huggins AM, author, oral historian, and Aboriginal rights activist. These were their fourth and ninth interviews for the project, respectively, showing a meaningful and long-lasting collaboration with the Library and map the major role Aboriginal leaders play not only within Indigenous communities but across Australian society.
The History of Australian Geoscience project has continued to capture the growth of geoscience and the substantial role Australia has played in this field. Geophysicist Dr Charles Barton, whose work on the nature, origins and applications of the Earth’s magnetic fields has been very significant, and environmental scientist Jane Coram, who has been involved in the field for almost three decades, were both interviewed by Patrick Lyons.