State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 62 Spring 1998


From the Editorial Chair

With one exception, all the contributors to this number of The La Trobe Journal are librarians currently working at the State Library. The exception is John Arnold, who will be known to many readers as a former librarian, and a moving spirit in the Friends of the State Library for many years. In 1989 he moved from the State Library, where he was Deputy La Trobe Librarian, to the Australian Studies Centre at Monash University, where he is now Deputy Director. John Arnold, whose interest in the history of libraries is evident in his frequent contributions to the Journal over the years, fittingly contributes a profile of the first librarian, Augustus Tulk. As readers of the State Library News will be aware, four buildings on the La Trobe Street frontage of the Library have been named in honour of former Chief Librarians — Augustus Tulk, Edmund La Touche Armstrong, Ernest R. Pitt and C.A. McCallum. Sandra Burt, assistant editor of the Journal, will be contributing a profile of Pitt to a future number, and profiles of other Chief Librarians will follow. But the series is not intended to be confined to those at the top, or even to librarians. The first profile — in the previous number of the Journal — was devoted to the late Geoffrey Serle. While few non-librarians have done as much as he did for the State Library, there are many others who have, in various ways, worked to promote the Library, and over time we hope to bring some of them to the attention of our readers. Anyone who is interested in contributing to this section of the Journal is invited to discuss their ideas with Ms Burt.
This number of the Journal focuses on the visual, with contributions from the staff of the Picture Collection, and an account by Brian Hubber, Rare Books Librarian, of how the Library acquired that source of visual delight, Audubon's Birds of America, which is the Library's greatest book treasure. We are indebted to Christine Downer, Picture Librarian, for organising the articles by her staff, and for her own scholarly contributions. Michael Galimany quotes a French photographer as saying, ‘In Europe everyone knows the great libraries of the world collect images’. I doubt that everyone in Australia knows that. At any rate, the material gathered here will give readers some idea of the range and richness of the State Library's collection of images. Michael Galimany and Kerry Agnew outline the history of collecting in two important areas, and Olga Tsara and Mary Lewis write about two of the individual collections.
In the course of preparing this number it became clear that we could not hope to include all the articles offered to us, or illustrate as fully as we would like those we did include. Thanks to generous financial support from Mr Bruce Trethowan, however, we are able to reproduce some of the images in colour.
The Library's holding of photographs is so extensive in time and in subject matter that we should like to devote a future number of the Journal to the history of photography in Australia, and highlight some of the research now being done. Potential contributors are invited to get in touch.
John Barnes