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A review of the Science at the Library event

23 August 2022

This year for National Science Week, we hosted a special event celebrating how vital science is in our work at State Library Victoria. 

The event started with a fascinating discussion led by Molecular Biologist, Science Communicator and self-confessed book nerd Upulie Divisekera about science at the Library through three different perspectives. View the three panel members and their discussion points below. 

  • Curator Linda Short talked about the Handmade Universe exhibition, including the development and creation of Mandy Nicholson's work Dharangalk Biik, and why a Playtex bra was featured in the show.
  • Senior Librarian History of the Book and Arts Dr Anna Welch gave the audience insight into the hidden histories of some key women in science, including Émilie du Châtelet, who translated Isaac Newton's Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, often known as the Principia, from Latin into French in the 1700s.
  • Conservator of Photography and Paper Katy Glen explained the science involved in conserving paper and photographs that come into the collection and how we should care for our photos at home.

Following the discussion, audience members were able to peruse an extraordinary display of rare science books, some of which have never been shown at the Library before. The collection included Isaac Newton's Principia (1687, first edition) along with Émilie du Châtelet's translation (1756), Marie Curie's Traité de radioactivité (1910), Galileo's Dialogo (1632, first edition) and Nicolaus Copernicus's De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1566, second edition). Thanks to the Women Writers Fund, some of the books on display were recently acquired by the Library to be part of the collection.

To conclude the evening, the Conservation team set up a demonstration table with equipment, materials and examples of their work for participants to learn more about the techniques and methods used to care for the State Collection. Audience members were also treated to an exclusive late-night viewing of the Handmade Universe exhibition, with Linda on hand to answer any questions. 

Watch the panel discussion in the video above, or through the Library's YouTube channel. 

More to explore 

About Window on Collections    

For 165 years, State Library Victoria has collected books, maps, ephemera, objects and artworks on almost every subject you can think of, with a special focus on Victoria. The State Collection includes almost 5.5 million items which provide a vital window into the past and record of contemporary life.  

Window on Collections is our new series of displays and events that give you a glimpse of what we’re collecting and why.