Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Between Battles 9: Local History in Townsville’s City

During the “Between Battles” project, the Townsville City Library located at level 1, 280 Flinders Street hosted a number of James Cook University researchers as they surveyed not only the publically accessible local history collection, but also a significant portion of the library’s uncatalogued collection.
Caption: James Cook University researchers at the Flinders Street branch of CityLibraries.   Photo Credit: Jane Ryder
Caption: Researcher María Liliana Ortega Martinez with a photograph of Townsville’s old post office with a sign out in front urging men to enlist in the 1914 War. This photograph forms part of the uncatalogued local history collection held at the Flinders Street branch of CityLibraries.  Photo credit: Jane Ryder
This was a particularly exciting experience for all researchers involved, having been given access to an enormous variety of rare books, documents and photographs that were yet to be examined in great detail. The Between Battles research team came across numerous examples of World War One soldiers’ experiences, however it was undoubtedly the Library’s photographic collection that was most rewarding.

The only difficulty researchers faced was that many of the photographs were unidentifiable, and while they were fantastic images in their own right, it was difficult for the team to put them into a context.  This illustrates a need for people to correctly identify the contents of their personal collections.  Otherwise, they risk becoming “orphan works”, such as these beautiful photographs.

 The photograph above shows an example of one of the fascinating World War One portraits the Between Battles research team came across at the City library that lacked any identifying information.   Cataloguers are limited to information attributed by the copyright owner or discernible from the image. 

Specialised digitisation equipment available within the City Library made the process of scanning various documents and photographs significantly easier. The library has only recently acquired this technology and is very excited to put it to use digitising further entries to the already rich local history collection.   For more information, watch this video.

The "Between Battles" research team would like to thank the staff of CityLibraries, in particular Annette Burns and Barbara Mathiesen.

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