You’d be surprised at how many 'here today, gone tomorrow' things we collect at the Library: posters, junk mail, comics, menus, art exhibition catalogues, postcards, press clippings, calendars, invitations, theatre programmes, political stickers, badges and flyers. The focus is on Victoria and Victorians, though we hold many items from around Australia as well.
Why keep ephemera? We keep it because most people don’t. Ephemera is made to be short-lived. It’s produced to advertise a new restaurant opening, the next state election, a play at the local theatre, tomorrow night’s pub band or a country town’s heritage walk. And usually it gets thrown away once the event is over.
But ephemera also reveals much about how ordinary lives are lived. It is an important record of social life, popular culture and local history.
Most ephemera is donated to the Library, though occasionally we buy items. Our collection ranges from the 1850s to yesterday’s how-to-vote card. As there is so much to collect, we select the types and topics that are most likely to be useful to future researchers.