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!
What a really useful post – perhaps some organisations could take the hint and post useful information like this on their own websites…
Thanks Michelle. I’ve done my share of bumbling around before working out how to organise myself to eke the highest productivity out of every research trip. When you are paying for accommodation you don’t want to waste a single minute of work time.
I think that only out-of-town researchers could write about this. The staff at the archives are too familiar with the location and setup of the archives to notice the things that are useful for out-of-town researchers. I would struggle to write such a useful post for archives in Melbourne and Sydney because I am too familiar with the cities and too well set up in them.
Perhaps archives could include a link to such posts on the relevant page on their websites or repost them?
Judy Webster says
Another tip… When using Queensland State Archives’ on-line catalogue, note the item ID *and* the ‘Previous System Location’ (you will need to scroll down). If the computer system crashes while you are in the Public Search Room, staff can usually only retrieve your documents from the repository if you can quote the Previous System location. Without that, you may have to pack up and go home! (I previously posted this tip in ‘Queensland Genealogy’ at http://qld-genealogy.blogspot.com/2011/11/qld-state-archives-item-id-and-location.html.)
Thanks Judy. Your blog is a great source for more tips about the intricacies of Queensland State Archives.
Judy Webster says
Thanks Yvonne. I have a file with lots of other tips and items of interest at the Archives, but I don’t have time to write as many blog posts as I’d like. If only there were more hours in the day, and if only I didn’t have to devote so many of those hours to earning a living!
Dawn Bateman nee Fillingham says
Dear Judy Webster, I would love to meet you. Is there a day I could. I live Toowoomba way. I will come down for the full day. Regards Dawn
Hi Dawn, I suggest you get in touch with Judy Webster directly. You can get her contact details from her blog.
Judy Webster says
Hello Dawn. I don’t always see replies to my comments on other people’s blogs, so it’s lucky that I noticed yours. I am doing a family history seminar in Toowoomba on Saturday 2nd April 2016. Bookings are essential, and must be made in advance through Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society, phone (07)46347377. Seating is limited and the Society’s members get preference. Alternatively you could book a face-to-face consultation as explained under ‘Services’ on my Web site, http://www.judywebster.com.au/index.html. (Yvonne, I apologise for posting this in your blog comments, but Dawn hasn’t emailed me as you suggested, so I hope you will forgive me.)
Really helpful, practical information!
Another tip worth knowing about is their wonderful signposts series on particular Queensland towns…good insights into what’s available for the area. sImilarly their guides are available online and can be swotted up in advance.
A potentially quicker way to get there would be to take an express bus to Sunnybank Hills which would make the walk a bit easier. They have the options set out here but overall I think the bus would be less hassle if you are without a car.
I used to live close by back in the day when I worked full-time and rarely got there. For recent decades they’ve been flying visits from some distance.
Thanks for those tips Pauleen. Do you know the route number of that bus? I couldn’t work it out from the Translink site. I presume you can catch it from the Queen St bus station.
I can’t remember it off hand…will see if I can find it. It leaves (or used to) from under the Myer Centre.
Judy Webster says
Details of how to get to the Archives by bus, train or free taxi service are on their Web site at http://www.archives.qld.gov.au/Researchers/Runcorn/Pages/FindQSA.aspx.
Thanks Judy. I wonder if that no. 150 bus is the one that Pauleen was talking about. As someone from outside the city I think that getting the train from airport + taxi (free one only operates on Tuesdays at 2 specific times each way) is easiest for people who don’t come from Brisbane and are carrying a suitcase. I’ll give the bus trip a go next time I’m in Brisbane to see how easy it is to navigate.
It’s route 150 apparently