Presented by Andrew Sergeant, Reference Librarian, National Library of Australia at the ninth Australian Library History Conference, 25-27 June 2009.
This paper will firstly give a brief overview of the history of the Braidwood Literary Institute, concentrating on the issues it faced in its early years. It will also examine some of the records of the Institute, which have rather fortuitously survived and are now housed in the Braidwood and District Museum. The records include committee minute books, annual reports, account ledgers, visitors’ books, and borrowing records. The Borrowers’ Register for an eighteen-month period in the early 1860s has been analysed and has revealed the reading habits of its subscribers. A profile of the membership in the early years is being developed using existing biographical information from a variety of sources, which, together with the members’ reading habits, will allow some conclusions to be drawn about the success or otherwise of the Institute’s stated aims.