The Community Heritage Grant program supports local groups to access professional cultural heritage expertise. It provides funding for community organisations to understand the meaning and value of their collections and undertake conservation activities.

Australian novelist, Mrs Aeneas Gunn, was a long-time resident of Monbulk and a former President of the RSL. She supported returned soldiers, and part of that support was the provision of a library.

Though the library had not been a community priority for some time, the significance of Mrs Gunn’s contribution to the Monbulk community did not go unnoticed. In order to better understand Mrs Gunn’s work and historical significance of the library collection, the Monbulk RSL made a successful application for a Community Heritage Grant.

Portrait photograph of Aeneas Gunn, inscribed with a caption in cursive
Inscribed portrait of Mrs Gunn, courtesy of Monbulk RSL (2020 Community Heritage Grant recipient).

A significance assessment was undertaken by Emma Russell of History@Work.

'I had not come across a library collection of this nature – a dedicated collection established for a local community as a public library with no funding or expertise,' she noted.

Emma also found that the library’s collection was a good historical example of what was considered respectable reading in the post-war years. Her report allowed the RSL’s librarian to understand and apply its findings.

The Community Heritage Grant program assisted Monbulk RSL to make a clear plan for future action, including recommendations for cataloguing, and profile-raising activities like connecting with the academic and literary sector as a promotional avenue.

Applications for the 2022 Round of Community Heritage Grants are open now. Applications for new applicants close on Monday 9 May.

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Image: Spines of rare books from the Mrs Aeneas Gunn Memorial Library, courtesy of Monbulk RSL (2020 Community Heritage Grant recipient).