Monday, April 27, 2015

Between Battles 3: Putting on White Gloves

Special Collections Librarian, Bronwyn McBurnie welcomes researchers to the Reading Room in the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, Townsville Campus
Our Townsville based research team began week one in James Cook University Library’s Special Collections.  The Special Collections Reading Room is located on level one of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library.  The Special Collections are unexpectedly extensive and contain an enormous variety of items including rare books, diaries, journals, and other manuscript material as well as photographs and oral history recordings.  Most of the collections relate to North Queensland and the tropics.

Items from the Salvador Torrent Archive, Library Archives Collection - Photograph by Andrew Rankin
The Collections are readily accessible via the Reading Room and discoverable either though the JCU library catalogue, webpages or other specialised finding tools.  Of particular interest is the Shaw Collection of Australian Art & Culture, North Queensland maps and artworks and over 700 rare books,  all of which can be accessed by researchers working in the Reading Room.  A number of these books proved to be invaluable to our research, including a published soldier’s diary from the Kennedy Regiment, not to mention a collection of photographs taken by a local World War One soldier.

Photograph from an Astley James Bromfield Album
It is an exciting process for historical researchers to begin a new project. You never know what you may unearth in a stack of old books, or whose diary or photograph you might come across. But we could not have imagined how successful the first week would be.   It certainly has been a wonderful start to the project and it has provided us with further direction about linking local stories to the experiences of World War One soldiers.

Much of our success however has been due to our close working relationships with the Special Collections Team - Bronwyn McBurnie (Special Collections Librarian) and Haidi Beard (Special Collections Officer). No one in the University knows the Collections better than these two wonderful library staff and their knowledge of the Collections means they have been able to identify additional resources we might not have considered without their guidance. Their support throughout this Between Battles project has been invaluable.

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