State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 47 & 48 1991



This double issue of the La Trobe Library Journal celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the La Trobe Library. It is appropriate that such an issue should contain articles drawing our attention to the rich cultural heritage contained in the various collections. From the start those associated with the Library were aware that it was “Victoria's chief reference centre and reference library … the State's principal repository for manuscript material, historical paintings, newspapers relating to the history of Australia and the Pacific”. Furthermore the Friends of the La Trobe Library first came together to ensure that this continued to be the case. They wished to attract financial donations as well as donations of manuscripts and to publicise the Library. It was with considerable foresight that the government of the day, as a centenary gesture, would house the Australiana collection in a wing of its own in the Library “to commemorate the courage and enterprise of the pioneers”. It is a sad reflection of the present period that the library is in a state of disarray. Many do not understand its unique treasures and the light they cast on Australia's past and present.
It is essential to recognise the Library's historical nature. This needs to be fully understood particularly by those trying to determine priorities in planning and trying to remedy problems. It is historical not only in terms of its content but in terms of its acquisitions policy. Thus, for example, we remember it was La Trobe himself who set about collecting the manuscripts which are amongst those forming the foundation of the Library. Similarly, the Library possesses not just any copies of Melbourne's first newspaper but those of its publisher, John Pascoe Fawkner. Thus the Library has a dual nature as both library and museum.
It is not only planners but the public whose attention must be attracted to the intrinsic riches of the Library. Books may lack the glamour of painting, opera, ballet or the theatre but one can understand little of one interest without the other. The original aims of the Friends — to publicise the Library, to draw attention to its needs — are now more urgent than ever.
Teresa Pagliaro