Official opening of the 12th Australian Library History Forum
Thank you to Ms Hutley for your kind introduction, and to Maroochy Barambah for your Welcome this morning.
It is my great pleasure and privilege to join you all at the 12th Australian Library History Forum.
I extend a particularly warm welcome to our interstate visitors.
The State Library is one of the best-loved and most well-used buildings in Brisbane.
Its architecture embodies a very Queensland spirit of welcome and openness.
As the historic successor to the Brisbane Public Library, established by the colony of Queensland in 1896, it is a most appropriate place to hold this Australian Library History Forum.
As a librarian by profession I am thrilled at the idea of this forum as “a conversation about the Library as a home for diverse voices in the Australian context.”
The letter inviting me to attend said that the forum would be looking at how the history of the libraries “illuminates current challenges and choices.”
I am not a historian, nor am I currently working as a librarian – so I do not want to steal anyone’s thunder.
But I did want to share with you an article I found in another library - the National Library’s Trove archive, from the Brisbane Courier of the 12th of November 1921.
Under the headline “Brisbane’s Free Public Library” it says:
“The generally accepted opinion, a few years ago, of a public library was that it was a kind of literary cloister where weird men and eccentric characters, the Micawbers, the Dick Swivellers, the Sylvestre Bonnards, and the Mr. Dicks of the city congregated amidst bacteria and microbes, to escape from the winter wind and the summer sun, to enjoy a rest and a sleep.”
Isn’t it wonderful that our perception of a library has changed so much since then?
But the article goes on, saying: “That conception is not true of today. In the free public library today, crowded at almost any hour, one meets young men diligently seeking knowledge...”
Some 95 years later, that is still true of the corridors of the State Library.
It is not only young men, but also young women – indeed men and women of all ages and all backgrounds, and – wonderfully – children too, who crowd the actual and the virtual State Library, all diligently seeking knowledge.
Queenslanders are very proud of our State Library and the wonderful cultural precinct here at Kurilpa.
And we are very proud to share it with you.
I hope you can sense the warmth of the Queensland welcome as keenly as the visiting Southerners can sense the warmer weather, and I wish you all a most interesting and productive forum.