State Library of Queensland End of Year Event 2022
State Librarian and CEO of the State Library of Queensland, Ms Vicki McDonald AM; Library Board of Queensland Chair, Professor Andrew Griffiths; Queensland Library Foundation President, Ms Helen Brodie; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you, Mr Shannon Ruska, for your acknowledgment of Country. I too, would like to acknowledge the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane and extend my respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging, including all First Nations people here today.
Graeme and I are delighted to be with you for tonight’s End of Year event – it’s a fitting finale to 12 busy months of activities marking 120 years since Queensland’s ninth Governor, Sir Herbert Chermside, officially opened the Public Library of Queensland in April 1902.
This evening’s celebration also acknowledges that an important institution such as this did not emerge, fully-formed, overnight in 1902!
Indeed, by the time of its official opening, there had been more than 40 years of advocacy and debate, all recorded in rich detail in parliamentary papers, council records and in countless articles, editorials, opinion pieces and Letters to the Editor of The Brisbane Courier.
Today, we consider a free public library a basic community service, as fundamental as clean water and sealed roads. In Brisbane, in the second half of the 19th century, such a service was not at the top of the government’s priority list, and it was only due to the patient and persistent effort of influential advocates such as Sir Samuel Griffith that a public meeting was finally called in 1895 to discuss the library proposal.
The quest for a library had become what one newspaper report referred to as “a labour in the face of many discouragements”, and protracted debate was to continue for almost seven years before the official opening of the William Street building and its founding collection of books purchased from the private library of Justice Harding.
All Queenslanders today owe a debt of gratitude to those determined early proponents of the library.
They are also indebted to those who have served the institution in subsequent years as library staff and members of the Library Board and Queensland Library Foundation Council. On behalf of all Queenslanders, I thank them all, as well as the donors, sponsors, partners, and volunteers who have supported the library so generously throughout its history.
It has been a long and, at times, challenging journey but today we can all be immensely proud that Queensland is home to an innovative cultural institution that makes a significant contribution to the entire State, delivering projects that will produce a more empowered, literate and aware society.
Congratulations once again on 120 fantastic years.