State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 4 October 1969

[Back matter]



It is pleasing to report that the Friends of the La Trobe Library have been able to arrange for the appointment of a Manuscripts Field Officer for the Library. The Myer, Ian Potter and Sunshine Foundations have most generously made joint provision for a one- and possibly two-year appointment by the Library Council of Victoria. An appointment will probably be made in November. The officer's tasks will be to locate family papers, diaries, correspondence, etc., in private hands, institutional records and other material of importance to Victorian and Australian history, and to endeavour to acquire or photo-copy such material for the Library.
This appointment is all the more pleasing in view of the great disappointment the Library has suffered over the current State Budget. There were confident hopes that this year additional finance would be granted to enable the appointment of several new officers. It was then planned to open the Library every week-night (for the restricted hours cause legitimate public complaint and embarrassment to the Library) and in other ways generally to improve service. For at present, shortage of staff, especially at senior and mediumrange levels, makes little more than a holding operation possible. The State Library as a whole received a slight increase in the book-vote but no additional staff.
It is well known how strained State finances are. Yet within its resources the government has not been ungenerous to educational and cultural institutions. However, for whatever reasons, the case for additional Library finance has not yet been recognised or has been given very low priority, and the recommendations of the Jungwirth Inquiry are still largely ignored. The magnificent holdings of the State Library are unrecognised for the priceless assets they are and the officers hold on as best they can, fighting against further decay. The library-profession and its friends can only continue to state their unanswerable case, attract what publicity they can, and give further thought to ways and means of exerting political pressure.
Ninety-eight years ago, Anthony Trollope visited the Public Library of Victoria and later wrote in his Australia and New Zealand: ‘But the magnificence of Melbourne is not only external. The city is proud of its institutions, and is justified in its pride. First among these, as being very excellent in the mode of its administration, is the public library. In the first place it is open gratuitously to all the world six days a week, from ten in the morning till ten in the evening … Here at Melbourne any man [or woman] who is decent in his dress and behaviour can have books, shelter, warmth, chair, table, and light up to ten at night, day after day, night after night, year after year — and all for nothing.’ When the La Trobe Library was opened, the hours were curtailed for students of Australian history and literature, simply because staff was not provided to run the new building. It would be nice if government saw fit to restore the privilege before the centenary of Trollope's visit, if only to demonstrate that we in Victoria do not progress backwards.
The Editor hopes to be able to maintain the increased size of this issue of the Journal without strain on the Friends’ funds. He would welcome contributions or suggestions for contributions from possible authors. The Journal's policy is to print articles, bibliographical or not, which relate closely to the Library's holdings in Victorian and Australian history and literature, e.g., articles on books, journals or newspapers, or on booksellers, publishers, printers, collectors, authors, artists and illustrators. But this is not a Victorian or general historical journal.
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is a section of the State Library of Victoria and is Victoria's chief research-centre and reference library for Australian history and literature. It is the State's principal repository for manuscript material, historical paintings, newspapers, etc. relating to the history of Australia and the Pacific and especially Victoria.
The Government of Victoria, as a centenary gesture in 1951, decided to house the Australiana collection in a separate wing to commemorate the courage and enterprise of the State's pioneers. The building was completed and the Library opened in 1965.


is a society founded in 1966. Its aims are to publicise the Library, to attract financial support for it, to help to fill gaps in the book-collection, and to encourage the donation of manuscript and other material.
With regard to the last objective, the Friends seek to locate diaries, letters and other family or institutional papers which have survived, and to acquire such material for the Library or to arrange to have it photocopied by negotiation with the owners.
The Friends’ office-bearers are: President, Tristan Buesst, Esq.; Vice-President, Professor A.G.L. Shaw; Hon. Treasurer, S.R.C. Wood, Esq.; Hon. Secretary and Editor, Dr. Geoffrey Serle; Librarian, Miss Patricia Reynolds (La Trobe Librarian).
New Friends will be welcomed, especially if they are prepared to be active Friends. The annual subscription is $3 (which includes the Journal). The Friends’ address is c/o State Library of Victoria, Swanston Street, Melbourne, 3000.
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