I had the pleasure of researching at the Queensland State Archives while I was in Brisbane recently. These tips are for anyone who lives outside Brisbane who wants to research at the Archives and make the best use of their time:
1. Lockers for suitcases
The first thing an out-of-Brisbane researcher needs to know about the Queensland State Archives is that there are two lockers big enough to store a small suitcase. This means you can save time by heading to the Archives as soon as you arrive in Brisbane without visiting your hotel to drop off your luggage first. Remember to bring a one dollar coin to use the locker. You receive the coin back when you have finished with the locker.
2. You cannot order items in advance of your visit, but you can do some preparation in advance
The second thing an out-of-Brisbane researcher needs to know about the Queensland State Archives is that you cannot order items before you arrive. This is sad, but the reason this facility is not available is sadder still. Unfortunately researchers were ordering items and then not showing up. Like all archives, the Queensland State Archives does not have enough staff and they certainly cannot afford to waste staff time by retrieving items for people who do not show up. This is a lesson for all researchers. Sometimes we order stuff and are unavoidably prevented from visiting the archives eg illness. But it is important that if we order stuff we make every effort to use it. It would be a shame if other archives have to withdraw the facility of ordering items in advance.
But you can still make the best use of your time by preparing for your isit. Before you arrive at the Archives make a list of all the Item ID numbers for the records you want. When you arrive at the Archives, go straight to the computers in the reading room where you can order the items. Use the ‘Retrieve Using ID’ facility in the catalogue and lodge the order. You can order items whenever you want and are not bound by a timetable for getting orders in at certain times during the day like at some archives. Items arrive in a reasonable time. It all works smoothly and the desk staff are very helpful.
While you are waiting for your items to arrive go to the microfilm room and look at any microfilms that you need.
3. How to get there via public transport
The nearest train station is Fruitgrove which is on the Beenleigh train line. People travelling from the airport can catch the train at the airport (Gold Coast line) and then change at Altandi station to a Beenleigh line train.
It is a long walk from the train station which is particularly difficult if it is hot, steamy February. Ring for a taxi just before you arrive at Fruitgrove and tell them you will wait at the bus stop on Beenleigh Road. Get off the train, walk along the bridge over the train line towards the main road (not towards the car park) then turn left and you will see the bus stop where you will wait for the taxi. Do not cross Beenleigh Road. A non-peak hour taxi from Fruitgrove station to the Archives should cost you around $11. If your taxi driver is like one I had and cannot find the Archives on his GPS, get the directions on Google Maps with your phone so he can follow the Google voice directions.
4. Bring your own lunch
There is no café at Queensland State Archives but they provide the best kitchen and eating facilities for researchers I have seen in any archive I have visited in Australia. Bring your own tea bags and use the mugs and hot water provided. There is a fridge, microwave, cutlery and crockery for you to use. While I was there all the researchers left it spotless after they had eaten there so it was a pleasure to use.
5. Queensland State Archives are open weekdays at 9am
Unusually for a library or archive in Australia, Queensland State Archives opens at 9am. So be there when the doors open and leave your visit to the State Library of Queensland or other research place for later in the day. The Archives close at 4:30pm, so you can then head to the State Library of Queensland and work there until 8pm. Keep in mind though, the John Oxley Library at the State Library of Queensland closes earlier at 5pm.
Unfortunately the budget of Queensland State Archives does not extend to being open every weekend. Check their website to find the one Saturday in each month when the Archives are open.
Wow! This is the 200th post on this blog!