Significant Historic Australian Education Collections – Deakin University, Geelong

Entrance to Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library

One of Australia’s most extensive collections for the history of education – the Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library at Deakin University, Geelong.

While working on the Teaching Reading in Australia project I had the opportunity to work in some of the best archives in Australia for the history of education.  These archives are significant repositories of Australian history.  Some don’t get the attention they deserve, others are well recognised but their education collections are little known.  In this, the first of a series of occasional posts on education archives in Australia, I share with you the delights of one of the most extensive education collections that I know of in Australia.  It is held by the Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library at Deakin University in the city of Geelong, Victoria. Continue reading

Top 10 Posts for 2011

two women playing cricket

We have had lots of fun playing family cricket on the nearby oval these holidays. Here I am wicket keeping while my sister-in-law is batting. Photo by Ian Woolward

Blogs and cricket have something important in common – statistics!  This week I’ve enjoyed spending lots of time with my family visiting from interstate and watching the exciting Boxing Day test match between India and Australia.  It was a great example of test cricket – four days of see-sawing between the teams until Australia finally won.   I tried to write a blog post while watching the cricket but the cricket was way too interesting for me to write anything worth posting.   Instead, I thought I would join the other bloggers out there and create a list of the posts on this blog that generated the most hits in 2011. Continue reading

GLAMming it up – Canberra in Two Days!

Old Parliament House, Canberra

The old Parliament House is now the Museum of Australian Democracy.

GLAM is an evocative acronym referring to Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.  I had booked an extra couple of days in Canberra after attending a digital humanities ‘unconference’ (called THAT Camp Canberra), so I GLAMmed it up and visited some of our national cultural resources.  I had a ball, but there was a more serious motive behind it all.  Aside from generally opening my horizons, I wanted to become more familiar with the work of those cultural institutions of relevance or potential relevance to my work. Continue reading

Serendipitous Reading

books laid higgledy piggeldy on the floor

Some of the books I have found on discount tables and in secondhand bookshops over the last year.

Much is said about the importance of serendipity for research in the humanities. People extol the rewards gained from unexpectedly finding a relevant and fruitful book sitting on a bookshelf near the book that they had been initially seeking in the library.  This year I am no longer a student so I decided that I would read more broadly than I have in recent years. While I still have to be focussed in my reading for work, I have deliberately sought to increase my serendipitous reading.  In particular I wanted to read more about the aspects of history that I had either not been able to explore at university or if I had been able to I had not been able to read as much as I would have liked.  There are many, many historic themes and topics that fall in this category. Rather than systematically working my way through a carefully constructed list of reading, I decided to let serendipity govern and see where it would take me! Continue reading

Libraries: Warehouses for Dead Books?

Fisher Library, University of Sydney

The University of Sydney’s Fisher Library has joined a growing list of libraries to attract the wrath of borrowers at the suggestion that a large number of books are to be removed from the shelves.  Recently libraries at the University of Denver and the University of New South Wales also attracted criticism from borrowers.  These protests  demonstrate that libraries are regarded as providing an important service in our society.  More importantly they demonstrate that libraries are undergoing a transformation. As with all transformations it is a painful, exciting and uncertain time.  We cannot be certain about what lies in the future for libraries, but we do know that libraries cannot continue to function in the same way they did last century.  This is the Information Age and as libraries have traditionally been the source of information for our society, it is hardly surprising that these usually quiet places are now the centre of an intense debate.

Nothing about our present understanding of libraries should be taken for granted.  In this post I want to focus on the role that libraries currently fulfil as archives.  Seth Godin recently made a provocative comment on libraries as archives:

The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books.

Seth Godin, ‘The future of the library‘, 16/5/2011. Continue reading