Saturday, 5 August 2017

Lost in BHL Australia

What is BHL Australia?  This is a collection of digitized resources based in Australia and part of The Biodiversity Heritage Library, a freely accessible open access database devoted to archiving publications in the natural sciences.

BHL Australia gathers over 200,000 pages of material from Australian museums, scientific associations and herbariums, including the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Among the treasures here, I found the earliest book published in Antarctica. Aurora Australis, 1908-09, by Ernest Shackleton, is a mixture of diary and verse and Douglas Mawson's The Antarctic book: winter quarters 1907-1909, interspersed with sketches by the author. These journals complement a modern novel published in 2009, The nature of ice. The author, Robyn Mundy has been to Antarctica several times, and her poetic imagery will give the reader a real sense of the privations these early explorers faced. JCU library has books written by all three authors within our collections.

Preserved by the Museum of Victoria, The art of coppersmithing: a practical treatise on working sheet copper into all forms is a curiosity item about a lost art, and may appeal to those involved in the Men's Shed movement. Published in 1906, it covers all aspects of operating in the brazier's craft, business including the training of apprentices. Exacting directions and delightful illustrations of tools and products from small household items to making piping for ships are plentifully displayed. Although we don't have any physical books on the topic in our collections, we do have several on copper mining, the industry and trade, including a report on the construction of the copper refinery in Townsville.

Let your imagination go, and lose yourself in BHL Australia to find surprises of your own.

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