This year, we were joined by 5 PhD students who had been awarded a National Library of Australia Summer Scholarship. The 2022 Summer Scholars, pictured above from left to right, are Tess Scholfield-Peters, Anita Gowers, Austin Tseng and Suzannah Henty (absent: Deborah Lee-Talbot). We went behind the scenes with the students and found out about their experiences studying in the Library. 

A scholar looks at a large format document in the Library's reading room.
Austin Tseng in the National Library’s Main Reading Room.

Austin Tseng is one of the recipients of the 2022 Norman McCann Summer Scholarships. His project explores discourses in Chinese-Australian newspaper media on coverage relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

‘The Library is a rich source of materials, many of which are simply not accessible elsewhere,’ Austin says. ‘The collection of Australian Chinese-language newspapers was invaluable to my research.  

‘I was able to locate a significant amount of primary source materials, including “happy accidents” which have given me fresh ideas on how to formulate and structure my thesis. 

‘I recommend the program due to the expertise and helpfulness of the staff at the Library, as well as the abundance of resources available to researchers. People really went out of their way to help us and make us feel welcome.’ 

 Tess Scholfield-Peters is the 2022 Seymour Summer Scholar and spent her time at the Library researching the experiences of Jewish emigrants who arrived in Australia pre-World War II.  

‘I wanted to study at the Library because the collections are so varied and unique,’ Tess says. ‘The Library itself is such a beautiful building, right in the middle of everything, and the scholarship program gives you behind the scenes access. I knew I was going to end up finding lots of unexpected and exciting material. 

A scholar smiles at the camera. She is standing in the Library's special collections reading rooms - other people, desks and collection material are visible behind her.
Tess Scholfield-Peters in the National Library’s Special Collections Reading Room.

The 6 weeks have been spent mostly in the Special Collections Reading Room, looking at manuscripts and papers, and back in our office space where we can take Main Reading Room material to our desks.  

‘My research has advanced a lot in this relatively small space of time. I’ve found so much primary source material that only the Library holds, and having a shared space to work with the other scholars has been very conducive to good work.  

‘I highly recommend the Summer Scholarship program to anyone with a keen interest in furthering their research or writing. I applied without knowing that much about the Library’s collections, but have come out of this experience with a lot more confidence in my ability to do archive research – even though I still feel as though I’ve only scratched the surface!’ 

Applications for the 2023 program are now open.