Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Flowers of the Sea - Part 1

Call us not weeds, we are flowers of the sea 
For lovely and bright and gay tinted are we 
And quite independent of sunshine and showers 
Oh call us not weeds, we are ocean’s gay flowers
Maugeria sanguinea, a specimen from an album of pressed seaweeds, compiled by Annie Slade (This album is part of the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection)

In Victorian times an unusual pastime became quite the fashion among women who had time on their hands and who were prevented by the prevailing mores of society from taking part in many other pursuits. The 19th Century saw a growing interest in the natural sciences and the blossoming of many related societies, yet membership was considered inappropriate for women who were expected to develop their skills in music or the decorative arts. But the rise of industrialisation, increasing urban pollution and overcrowding also encouraged an appreciation of the healthy fresh air of the countryside or seaside, with walking and bathing seen as beneficial activities for both sexes.

The above verse, attributed to a Mrs Elizabeth Aveline, gives a clue to an activity which held both scientific and decorative interest and gave opportunities for women to escape the domestic sphere for the great outdoors: seaweed collecting.

While this had many similarities with the more sedate hobby of flower-collecting, it also held opportunities for adventure – clambering over rocks, beating the incoming tides, uncovering lurking crabs and other hazards – and, for those who sought it, scientific discovery. Who were these women?
Haliseris polypodioides, a specimen from an album of pressed seaweeds, compiled by Annie Slade. (This album is part of the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection)

Amelia Griffiths (1768-1858) was a parson’s wife who settled, as a young widow with several children, in the south Devon town of Torquay where she could indulge her fascination with seaweeds. With so many species unknown or undescribed, she often assisted male colleagues with identification, becoming a friend and correspondent of leading British botanist, William Henry Harvey. In her lifetime she collected and preserved nearly 250 different seaweed species and was one of the first women to be recognised for her contribution to science. Her seaweed albums are held in several museums, including at London’s Kew Gardens, and a number of species bear the Griffiths name.

One of Amelia’s former servants, the much younger Mary Wyatt (1789-1871) often accompanied her mistress on collecting trips and eventually set up a small shop in Torquay selling marine specimens, including seashells, fossilised corals and pressed algae. Mary produced and sold books on seaweed identification and thus helped to spread the “seaweed craze”.

Anna Atkins (1799-1871) created exquisite cyanotype photogenic drawings of seaweeds and over a ten-year period published the 3-volume Photographs of British Algae (1843-53), which pioneered photography as a means of botanical illustration. Her scientific leanings were probably inherited from her father, John George Children, after whom the Australian Children’s python was named.

Margaret Gatty (1809-1873), a children’s author, took up seaweed collecting during a period of convalescence on the Sussex coast and illustrated numerous specimens with her own drawings and paintings. Her comprehensive 2-volume British Sea Weeds took 14 years to complete, described 200 species and contained 86 coloured plates. She was still collecting up until her death. The Australian alga, Gattya pinnella, is one of several species named for her.
Polysiphonia brodiei, a specimen from an album of pressed seaweeds, compiled by Annie Slade. (This album is part of the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection)

So, what has all this to do with Special Collections? Our next post will look more closely at a late Victorian album which came to us as part of the Sir C.M. Yonge collection and from which the illustrations in this post are taken. Its young compiler might well have been inspired by at least two of the above collectors.

Story by Miniata

Note: Captions to illustrations provide the scientific names current in the 1880s; they may not be those in use today.


Strange, Philip. The Queen of Seaweeds: the story of Amelia Griffiths

Cara Giaimo. The forgotten Victorian craze for seaweed collecting, Atlas Obscura 2014

Cyanotypes of British Algae by Anna Atkins (1843). Public Domain Review

Popova, Maria. Stunning drawings of seaweed from a book by self-taught Victorian marine biologist, Margaret Gatty

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. [...] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world. - Eleanor Roosevelt

10 December 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of the UN's Declaration of Human Rights, which is celebrated annually on Human Rights Day. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages. The principles embodied in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others, and promote equality, justice and the dignity of all human beings.

You can explore the many resources on human rights within the library collection or see what our researchers have been producing on this topic via Research Online.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 50

Oh, good lord, it's week 50 already! How did that happen? After this week's Reading Challenge we only have two left - and one of them will be during a week we won't even be open (except for Monday morning), so that's just plain awkward.

I suppose we should stop panicking over the inevitable passage of time and get on with issuing the latest challenge, which is:

50. A book by an author you haven’t read before.

Well that sounds easy.

We often try to give you some advice for how to find a book for these weekly challenges, but to be perfectly frank we have no idea which authors you have and haven't read, so um... Pick up a book, look at who wrote it, and ask yourself, "have I read anything by this author before?" and if the answer is "no", then you're good to go.

Oh, and in case you're thinking, "Soon the Reading Challenge will be over, and then what will I read?" we're planning something new and exciting for 2019. Stay tuned.

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Reading Challenge Week 49 - A book of non-fiction essays.

Did you take on the challenge of reading a book of non-fiction essays? (Actually, it's very hard to even find a book of fictional essays, so as challenges go this wasn't as challenging as it could have been).

Essays get a bad wrap - probably because generations of people are forced to write them from high school right through university, and after a good decade or so of writing essays without really knowing what they're good for, nobody thinks they can possibly be any good.

But essays aren't just horrible things you're forced to write for an assignment. The essay is to a non-fiction book what a short story is to a novel. It gives you an explanation and exploration of a topic without going on and on about it for chapters on end. The best essays are punchy, witty, well written and very interesting. A collection of essays can take you around the world and cover a wide spread of topics while it's doing it.

If you decided that this week's challenge wasn't for you, we sincerely hope you consider changing your mind.

George Orwell  wrote Animal Farm in 1945 and Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949. As a fan of both novels, I was interested to read some of The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell (820 ORW 1B COL T2), which were written during the same time period and the last five years of his life. Even while grieving for his first wife, caring for his adopted toddler son and bedridden by the lung ailments that ended his life early in 1950, Orwell was at the height of his writing and was still regularly producing four pieces every week.

The essays in this collection include "Such, Such Were the Joys," a long, harrowing memoir of Orwell's days at a British prep school; "Politics and the English Language," which examines the connection between what it is possible to say in words and what it is possible to think; "How the Poor Die," a chilling piece of social reporting; and "Good Bad Books," in which he argues, "The fact that one can be amused or excited or even moved by a book that one's intellect simply refuses to take seriously is a reminder that art is not the same thing as cerebration."

The essays are short and the letters are a delightful way to eavesdrop on Orwell’s passions, concerns and relationships. If you enjoy reading biographies, this collection takes you one step closer to understanding the man behind the literature, as well as offering an insight into the hot socio-political topics of the 1940s and ‘50s.

As Vonnegut explains in the introduction, the title of this book is composed of three words he made up from another of his books, Cat’s Cradle (the word opinions was already in use in the 1960s, when he began writing these essays). In this collection of essays, there are all manner of topics covered, all of which have some kind of relation to the author. They are assembled in a chronological order but we are warned in the introduction that the essays do not get progressively better (with time).

In Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons: Opinions (810 VON 1B WAM), Vonnegut does not follow the rules of academic writing as we might expect to see from a student or academic. He includes himself in the story, he let’s us know how he feels about things, and generally has a lot of fun (don’t take that the wrong way). His humour and humanity are there to see in the works presented in this collection.

Vonnegut begins with an essay on the science fiction genre of writing and how he has been placed within it. He points out that any writer who includes technology in their story, tends to be labelled a science fiction writer, regardless of their style of writing. It is interesting that the only piece of fiction in this book, a short play called “Fortitude”, is essentially a science fiction story (it is a great thought piece about our lust for life – although not in an Iggy Pop kind of way).

I am a fan of Vonnegut’s writing. He makes me laugh, has something to say, and has a unique voice. These essays are not as free and fictionalised as his fiction (go figure!) but they are an enjoyable read for fans and newcomers alike. 

Sharon Bryan read Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History, by Stephen Jay Gould.

Stephen Jay Gould (a palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist by trade) was once one of the founding fathers of popular science writing as a genre, which is why I think it's very interesting that his preface at the beginning of this book (published in 1991) begins by saying what a shame it is that popular science has such a bad wrap in America. Considering it's now one of the most successful genres (from a publishing point of view) it's strange to see this echo from the past and remember there was once a certain amount of snobbery regarding the "dumbing down" of science for a popular audience.

It's also interesting to note through reading his essays, how much of a snob Gould was himself. To wit, this quote from "The Dinosaur Rip-off" (an essay written in the late 80s, in which he explores the question, "what's with all the dinosaur crap all of a sudden?"):
We live in a profoundly nonintellectual culture, made all the worse by a passive hedonism abetted by ... countless electronic devices that impart the latest in entertainment and supposed information - all in short (and loud) doses of "easy listening". The kiddie culture, or playground, version of this nonintellectualism can be even more strident and more one-dimensional. (Gould, 1991, p. 100)
And this was to illustrate an argument that dinosaur toys are okay as long as they can be followed up with encouraging kids to take an interest in "real" science. Quite a number of Gould's essays veer into a "what is this world coming to?" moment. It's probably just as well he died in 2002, because he would have really hated the post FaceBook world.

Essays in this collection cover topics related to evolutionary biology, looking at a wide range of concepts within this field. Among several things I learned: Apatosaurus is merely an earlier name for Brontosaurus (and has nothing to do with the head being wrong - although the head was genuinely wrong), kiwis can lay more than one egg (given the size of those eggs, I wouldn't have thought it), and male mammals have nipples not because they ever used them, but because females need them (within our species, we start out identically - with all the same kit - as embryos, and then make customisations that may put things to different uses).

You can find it at 508 GOU.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Farewell, Bonita Mabo.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that the following post contains images of deceased persons.

Today, in a state funeral held in Townsville, we bid farewell to a beloved member of the community (not only our local community, but the wider community throughout Queensland): Dr Ernestine ‘Bonita’ Mabo AO.

Dr Mabo was only recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters, in recognition of the decades of service she has given the Aboriginal Australian, Torres Strait Islander and Pacific Islander communities in and around the Townsville and North Queensland regions.

Dr Mabo co-founded the Black Community School, Australia's first Indigenous community school, in Townsville - alongside her husband, Eddie Koiki Mabo. She also worked with Eddie Mabo on the Indigenous Land Rights court case, helping to shape the current political landscape of Australia.

For more than 45 years, Dr Mabo has been a vocal advocate for the Indigenous Australian and Pacific Islander communities, and she has rightfully earned a position of great respect in the region.

Regarding her recent acceptance of the Honorary Doctorate of Letters, JCU Chancellor Bill Tweddell said,  “her acceptance of this award is an honour to the university.”

We here in the JCU Library have been greatly honoured to be associated with the Mabo family since the naming of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library in May 2008, where Bonita placed the first hand print on the work that is still regularly displayed in the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library.

Dr Mabo was a greatly loved and highly respected member of our community, and we will miss her. Our thoughts go to her family and friends.

Discovering the Yonge Collection - Pontoppidan's 'Natural History of Norway'

Pontoppidan, Erich (1755), The natural history of Norway: containing a particular and accurate account of the temperature of the air, the different soils, waters, vegetables, metals, minerals, stones, beasts, birds, and fishes: together with the dispositions, customs, and manner of living of the inhabitants: interspersed with physiological notes from eminent writers, and transactions of academies : in two parts, A. Linde, London. 

The Natural history of Norway was distinctly modern in its concept, and Pontoppidan was called Norway’s Pliny, often citing Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist and scholar. Once published, the book was hugely popular and quickly translated into English and German. Chapters included: geography, climate, weather, geology, fresh and sea water, trees, plants crops, wild and domestic animals, land and sea birds, fish and fisheries, all sorts of creeping and wiggly animals. He also gave over a chapter dedicated to marine monsters, such as the sea serpent, the kraken, and mermen and mermaids.
Illustrated plate from The Natural History of Norway.
Pontoppidan’s book is one of the first texts to make Norwegian nature into a coherent and manageable entity. The subtitle indicates how nature has been divided into many categories. The subtitle also implies that the book takes part in a collective “scientific” endeavour, presenting academically proven facts from reputable scholars. However, as a work of natural history from the 18th century, this book’s credibility has been somewhat damaged, due to Pontoppidan’s presentation of certain spiritual arguments, such as claiming that he could prove scientifically and empirically that God’s deed are full of love and kindness.

Pontoppidan’s scientific credibility also took a hit when he provided full chapter coverage to marine serpents, mermaids, and sea monsters such as the kraken. The kraken is a legendary cephalopod-like sea monster of giant size which, according to ancient tales, lives in the waters off Norway and Iceland. Myths and stories of the kraken have been traced back in Nordic folklore as far back as the 12th century Icelandic sagas. The author used numerous sighting reports from credible observers to build his case for the existence of these creatures:
“The existence of European mer-men being called into question, it must proceed entirely from the fabulous stories usually mix’d with the truth. Here in the diocese of Bergen, as well as in the manor of Nordland, are several hundred person of credit and reputation, who affirm, with the strongest assurances, that they have seen these creatures sometimes at a distance, and at other times quite close to the boat, standing upright and formed like a human creature down the middle.” 
Illustrated plate from The Natural History of Norway.
Putting aside arguments for the existence of mermaids, there was a grain of truth in his description of the kraken, with it possibly having its origins in the authentic giant squid, which was only first photographed alive in 2004, and in 2012 when a giant squid was filmed in the wild for the first time. Measuring an impressive 46 feet, these squid truly are reminiscent of tales of the legendary Kraken. Pontoppidan tread very carefully with his coverage in this chapter, as he knew that his reputation as a natural historian might easily be destroyed if he insisted on the existence of these animals. However, Pontoppidan did attempt to be even handed with the discussion of these creatures, noting the danger of ignoring the truth by refusing to believe something unusual or unexpected, saying:
“We are apt to believe sometimes too much, and sometimes too little. I shall therefore quit the subject here, and leave it to future writers on this plan, to complete what I have imperfectly sketched out, by further experience, which is always the best instructor.” 
Since the 1700s, the myth of the kraken has indeed continued to capture the minds of many scholars and writers, such as Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1830 when he wrote the eerie poem The Kraken, and Herman Melville in 1850 when he referred to the Kraken in Moby Dick, calling it “the great live squid, which they say few whale-ships ever beheld, and returned to their ports to tell of it”. Pontoppidan’s description even influenced Jules Verne’s depictions of the famous giant squid in Twenty thousand leagues under the sea from 1870. In 1953 John Wyndham used the fear of the kraken in his apocalyptic science fiction novel The kraken wakes, showing how humankind responds to its own extinction. Although we now know it is not just a legend, the giant squid remains one of the most elusive large animals in the world, thus continuing to add to its aura of mystery that Pontoppidan somewhat bravely highlighted all those centuries ago.

The work is vast in its subject coverage, and size and quality of illustrations. The book itself is large, with dimensions being 36cm H x 23cm W. Many of the 28 beautiful copper engraved illustrations are equally large, and include great detail. The illustrations cover a wide subject matter, as per the book’s long and detailed subtitle. Illustrations include rocks, minerals, gems and crystals, intricately drawn shells, fish and marine animals, seaweeds, stunning landscapes and seascapes of Norway, detailed charts including a large fold out map of Norway and survey drawings of Norway’s coastline. The chapter in Part 2 entitled “Chapter VIII Concerning certain sea-monsters, or strange and uncommon sea-animals” also includes illustrations of weird mythical animals, such as the sea serpent. Land-based animals and plants were also illustrated with fine illustrations of birds, plants. The author also recorded information about the culture and customs of Norway at the time, providing detailed illustrations of current dress styles in Norway.
Illustrated plate depicting a mythical sea serpent, from The Natural History of Norway.
About the author 
Erich (Erik) Pontoppidan (24 August 1698 – 20 December 1764) was a Danish-Norwegian author, a Lutheran bishop of the Church of Norway, a historian and naturalist, and a cryptozoologist. He was a very eminent man in his day, training as a theologian in 1738, and going on to become Professor of Theology at the University of Copenhagen. He was Bishop of Bergen from 1747 until 1755, when he was named Vice-Chancellor of the University, a post he retained till his death. In 1737 he published a major theological work called Truth unto Godliness, which was an explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. This work extensively influenced Danish and Norwegian religious life for the next 200 years.

Pontoppidan wrote several other ecclesiastic works as well as a novel Menoza, which was a critique of the religious conditions of Denmark and other countries. In 1747 he was appointed Bishop of Bergen, and introduced many educational reforms. However, some of his work caused antagonism in Bergen, and in 1754 he was obliged to go to Copenhagen where he became the Vice Chancellor of Copenhagen University the following year.
Illustrated plate from The Natural History of Norway.
Apart from theological works, Pontoppidan wrote a number of other significant works of natural history. One of his earlier writing accomplishments was the multi-volume Atlas of Denmark from 1763 to 1767. As part of his job as Bishop of Bergen, Pontoppidan was required to travel and visit much of the western coast of Norway, where he collected observations and specimens. After three summers of travelling, he had collected enough material to write a natural history of the entire country. After 4 years of writing, he produced the 2 volume work Geschichte Norwegens (The Natural History of Norway). Its coverage was vast with the subtitle being “a particular and accurate account of the temperature of the air, the different soils, waters, vegetables, metals, minerals, stones, beasts, birds, and fishes : together with the dispositions, customs, and manner of living of the inhabitants : interspersed with physiological notes from eminent writers, and transactions of academies”. The book was massive in its scope and coverage of Norwegian natural history and was very popular, being immediately translated into German in 1753 and 1754, and English in 1755.

Suzie Davies, Special Collections Volunteer
James Cook University Library

* Read more about the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection
** Browse the titles in the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection


Brenna, B. (2012). Natures, contexts, and natural history. Science, Technology & Human Values, 37(4), 355-378. Retrieved from

Damkaer, David M. (2002). The copepodologist's cabinet: a biographical and bibliographical history. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.

Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2008). Church of Norway. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 22 August 2018, from

Hann, Michael (2006). A monster from the depths of our imagination, The Guardian Australia, 2 March 2006. Retrieved from:

Salvador, R.B. (2015). The real-life origins of the legendary Kraken. The Conversation: Academic Rigour, Journalistic Flair. Retrieved 30 December 2015 from

Thomas, K. (2018). The kraken. Interactive Oceans, University of Washington. Retrieved 31 August 2018 from

Wikipedia contributors. (2018). Erik Pontoppidan. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 1 October, 2018, from

Wikipedia contributors. (2018). Kraken. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 28 September, 2018, from

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 49

Now, we realise that, for university students and lecturers, the word "essay" has some unpleasant connotations.

But, believe it or not, "essays" can be very interesting things to read (as long as they weren't written for an assignment, reading those essays usually makes you want to gouge out your eye with a spoon).

An essay is, after all, a short piece of writing in which someone gives some deep thought to a subject. They can be witty, interesting, informative, inspiring and moving - sometimes all at the same time. Once upon a time, people used to buy books of collected essays for their edification and amusement.

And while essays aren't as popular as they used to be (like short stories and poems), they are still being written by some very fine authors who have some very interesting things to say.

So, for your edification and amusement, we present this week's Reading Challenge:

49. A book of non-fiction essays.

Need a handy list of collected essays? Perhaps a nice "top 100" type of thing? There may be a list or two floating around the Internet.

And you may find we have, like, a gazillion books in our collection called "Collected Essays" (or with "Collected Essays" as a subtitle).

Who knows, after this challenge, you might be inspired to make all of your essays brilliant, shining gems of writing.

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Reading Challenge Week 48 - A book from another country

Ah, other countries. There are a lot of them, aren't there? So, when someone challenges you to read "a book from another country", it's not really very limiting. I mean, we didn't even limit you to fiction or non-fiction.

Did you find a book from "another country" to read this week? We did.

France’s cities, villages and picturesque countryside, her medieval cathedrals, castles and art museums, her restaurants, high-fashion and luxury goods are well known throughout the world. But who are the French?

The French Way (944 STE) is a handy guide to understanding how people from every region of France think, do business, and act in their daily lives. 85 key traits are organised alphabetically, so it’s easy to dip into the topics you’re most interested in, from bread and pastries, drinking, greetings and farewells, and men and women, to Zut (you’ll need to read the book to find out what this means)!

It’s easy to misunderstand the words and actions of people from another culture when we interpret them according to our own cultural norms. This book seeks to clear up such misunderstandings by explaining traditions and placing French behaviour and attitudes in their own context.

Whether you’re planning a trip to Paris or are simply intrigued or confounded by aspects of French behaviour, attitudes and customs, The French Way could be just the ticket.

Scott Dale read Japanese for Busy People by the Association for Japanese-Language Teaching.

Booking a holiday to Japan is reason enough to study some of the language. If you are silly enough to agree to take your parents and parents-in-law along for the trip, well, that’s some extra motivation.

Turns out the JCU Library has a lot of resources to help me out with my Japanese studies. This week I’ve been reading Japanese for Busy People (495.683421 JAP C.A) in the hope of getting my language skills good enough to ensure the parents eat well in Japan.

I consider myself a busy person so the title to this had some appeal. Language books work for me because they make me pick up pen and paper and that’s how I learn best. I do have some language learning apps but I like using books as well. For me it’s good to get as much exposure to the language as possible: apps, books, film – the works.

This language book begins each chapter with a dialogue. That dialogue introduces the new verb conjugations, grammar, and vocabulary that the chapter is based upon. I like how these dialogues are written in script (hiragana, katakana and kanji) and then most of the chapter uses romanised Japanese. It helps me figure out what’s what and is a good way to learn a hiragana and katakana (two of the written phonetic lettering systems – see the hiragana chart attached).

Hiragana chart with
romaji (English letter)
transcription (from iClipart)
So what starts as おはようございま becomes ohayou gozaimasu (good morning).

I find learning a language is fun and challenging. We’ll see how well I have done next year when I’m guiding the in-laws through Japan.

Sharon Bryan read Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren.

All together now: "Pippi Longsticking is coming into your town. The one no one can keep down, no no no no. The one who's fun to be around, wooaahh woah. Pippi Longstocking is coming into your world. A freckle-faced red-haired girl, you oughta know. She'll throw your life into a whirl..."


I was going to use this week's challenge to revisit The Never Ending Story (which we have in both English and German) or The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business (which we also have in English and German) or maybe (since I accidentally read a book we don't hold in our library for last week's YA challenge), The Wave Runners (which, you guessed it, we have in both English and German)... but then I realised that I've already reviewed at least one German book in this challenge (The Reader, which we have in both English and German), so I thought I'd shake it up a bit.

Pippi Longstocking (c839.7 LIN) comes from Sweden. That's... well... okay, technically Sweden is closer to Germany than Tasmania is to mainland Australia. It's still a completely different country.

And Pippi Longstocking is awesome. She's a wild child, who neither has nor needs parental supervision. Her mother is an angel (as in, deceased) and her father is a sailor who may or may not have found a tribe of cannibals and become their king (as in, missing and presumed dead), but she has a ramshackle old house, a horse (that she can lift up and carry around whenever she feels like it) and a monkey called Mr Nelson.

Her wildness causes the grown-ups in town some consternation (but grown-ups are always being consternated), and brings great joy to the kids next door. Oh, and she has super strength, and incredible sense of balance, and strangely prehensile feet. If there is a normal way to do something, Pippi will do it upside down whilst juggling - just because she can. She's a like a strange, magical being - but unlike most magical beings in books, she doesn't leave at the end. She's still there, in Villekulla Cottage, ready for more adventures.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Discovering the Yonge Collection - Rumphius' "Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet"

Rumphius, Georgius Everhardus (1711), Thesaurus imaginum piscium testaceorum : cancri, echini, echinometra, stelle marine, etc ut & cochlearum … conchylia … conchae univalviae & bivalviae … mineralia, Petrum vander AA, Lugduni Batavorum.

Thesaurus imaginum piscium testaceorum is the first edition in Latin of Rumphius' Ambonese curiosity cabinet: a ground breaking work on the natural history of the Molucca Islands and the Indonesian Archipelago with engraved plates after Maria Sibylla Merian. His Ambonese curiosity cabinet was first published in Dutch in 1705 (titled Amboinsche Rariteitkamer). This present Latin edition followed in 1711. His greatest work, the 7 volume Herbarium Amboinense was published between 1741 and 1755. These texts after so many, many years are still the only extensive source on flora of Ambon.
Illustrated plate from Thesaurus imaginum piscium testaceorum.

Employed by the Dutch East India Company, Rumphius spent the greater part of his life on the island of Amboina (Ambon), a small but important trading centre in the East Indies, where he conducted innumerous observations on plants and animals.

Rumphius may have lived and worked in a faraway isolated region of the world, but his impact on science continued to be enormous for centuries after his death. Centuries later, this pioneering influence was picked up by 20th century malacologists such as Sir Maurice Yonge and S. Peter Dance. In his book Shell collecting: an illustrated history (which includes a fine Foreword by C.M. Yonge), Dance describes Rumphius as a “remarkable man”.
“Despite Rumphius' blindness which he developed late in life, and the fact that the work was published posthumously, even a cursory examination ... reveals the outstanding talents of its originator; for the Amboinese Curiosity Cabinet, despite its unpromising title, is full of accurate and detailed observations on the invertebrate animals encountered by him and mollusks are given special attention ... First and foremost he was a brilliant field naturalist ... In the consistent and accurate recording of locality data, Rumphius was far ahead of his time and no less noteworthy is his attention to molluscan ecology, in which field he must be considered a pioneer" (Dance). 
Rumphius’ original drawings were destroyed in a fire on Amboina in 1687, and by that point his blindness prohibited him from drawing new specimens himself. The plates in the posthumously published work were engraved after drawings by Maria Sybilla Merian, commissioned expressly for the work. Merian's original drawings are in the Archives of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburgh.
Illustrated plate from Thesaurus imaginum piscium testaceorum.

The Thesaurus holds some 60 magnificent copper engravings which can be separated into the following categories: crabs (12), sea-urchins & starfish (4), snails & muscles (33), and petrifications and minerals (11). The engraving are all large (20 x 32 cm), with exquisite detail. The very front page of the Thesaurus includes a full page portrait of Rumphius at age 68, by his son Paulus. Rumphius sits, clearly blind from glaucoma, but surrounded by his many plant and animal specimens. It is a very fine and remarkable illustration indeed, and creates an impressive introduction to an outstanding work of science.

The copy of the Thesaurus held at JCU Special Collections includes interesting notations on the verso pages of the front and back covers. The names of members of the Irish Cleland family (Richard Rose Cleland, and Ja. Clealand) are inscribed on the front pages, showing dates 1736, and 1806. Book plates from James Cleland or Ja. Clealand, of Rathgill or Rath Gael House, near Bangor Island are also present. James Cleland was a well-regarded naturalist in the 1790’s, with a strong interest in conchology. Whilst having no publications to his name, he was an avid shell collector, providing many species to James Sowerby for inclusion in the British Museum of Natural History.
Illustrated plate from Thesaurus imaginum piscium testaceorum.

About the author
Georgius Everhardus Rumphius (originally Rumpf, 1627-1702), also known as the "Indian Pliny", was one of the great tropical naturalists of the seventeenth century. Born in Germany, he spent most of his life in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, stationed on the island of Ambon in eastern Indonesia. Despite extensive personal tragedies, including the loss of his sight, Rumphius persevered to produce the definitive work of natural history on the region. Circumstances began to conspire against Rumphius in his efforts to understand the rich fauna and flora of his tropical paradise. Working in the glare of intense sun during the day and writing and drawing at night with paltry candles, his eyesight began to fail. By 1670, Rumphius was blind, probably from glaucoma. His wife and children probably assisted Rumphius in his scientific notes and collecting, but then more tragedy struck. A powerful earthquake struck Ambon on February 17, 1674; a wall crushed and killed his wife and daughter. Less resilient individuals might have baulked at continuing their work with these personal losses. Rumphius continued to compile his notes about the fauna and flora of this fascinating portion of Indonesia. By 1680, his manuscript was ready for publication. His record of the medicinal value of the local flora was unique. It is not surprising that one of the officials of the VOC asked for a copy of the manuscript to be made before it was shipped to the Netherlands for publication. This copy was incredibly significant, because Rumphius's manuscript was lost at sea, the transporting ship sunk by a French vessel (the French were then at war with the Dutch).

Rumphius was elected as a member of what is now the oldest science society in the world, the Academia Naturae Curiosorum of the German Roman Empire (founded in 1657, today still exists as the Leopoldina). Members were given nicknames, his was “Plinius”, a most honorific title as it referred to the Roman administrator Gaius Plinius Secundus (23-79 AD), killed in the eruption of Vesuvius and who was one of the founders of European natural sciences. His influence lasted for 1500 years until the end of the Middle Ages.
Detail of a portrait of Rumphius, from Thesaurus imaginum piscium testaceorum.

Rumphius is the undisputed patriarch of Melanesian botany, zoology, geology (including fossils!), colonial history, pharmaceutical, ethnological, linguistic, historical and religious matters, including astrology and magic. In addition to his major contributions to plant systematics, he is also remembered for his skills as an ethnographer and his frequent defence of Ambonese peoples against colonialism. To botanists, he is best known for his work Herbarium Amboinense, which was a 7 volume folio work with extensive descriptions and discussions in Latin and Dutch of about 1200 species with over 800 full page illustrations. Decades after his death, the work was finally published in Amsterdam.

Suzie Davies, Special Collections Volunteer
James Cook University Library

* Read more about the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection
** Browse the titles in the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection

Dance, S.P. (1966). Shell collecting: an illustrated history. London: Faber & Faber

MacDonald, R. and McMillan, N. (1959). James Dowsett Rose Clealand (Cleland): A Forgotten Irish Naturalist, The Irish Naturalists' Journal, 13 (3), 70-72.

Valauskas, E.J. (2013). Georgius Everhardus Rumphius. Retrieved 22 March 2018, from

Veldkamp, J.F. (2011). Georgius Everhardus Rumphius (1627-1702), the blind seer of Ambon. Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore, 63(1-2), 1-15. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from

Veldkamp, J.F. (2002). II. 15 June 2002, 300th anniversary of Rumphius’ death. Flora Malesiana Bulletin, 13(1), 7-21. Retrieved 22 March 2018, from

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, February 20). Georg Eberhard Rumphius. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22 March 2018, from

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 48

Bonjour! Haben sie etwas libri? Ma armastan libros de lectura. Buku itu ngahau.

If you had difficulty reading the sentences above, that's probably because the words were taken from languages from different countries.

Oh, and this week's Reading Challenge happens to be:

48. A book from another country.

Fancy that.

Pick a country, any country. It doesn't even have to be a country that still exists.

If that's too easy for you, we can make it more interesting by saying it has to be from a country that you haven't already "visited" on this Reading Challenge. But, honestly, we're on the homeward stretch for this year's challenge, so you may as well just read a book that strikes your fancy.

Only four more books to go for this year (after this one). Have you read anything new and exciting and different as a result of this challenge?

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

World Access to Higher Education Day - 28 November

Stock Photo ID: #1458870 
The inaugural World Access to Higher Education Day will be held on Wednesday 28 November. The day seeks to raise awareness of inequalities in access and success in higher education, and act as a catalyst for international, regional and local action.

Consider the following factors that directly affect access to, and completion of a university degree:
  • 14% of Australian households are not connected to the internet
  • 50,000 students will ‘drop out’of Australian universities this year, leaving the institution with no degree and an average student debt of $12,000 (Grattan Institute, 2018).
  • 10 years is the average time taken to repay the HELP component of a university degree. This does not cover costs such as textbooks, housing, food, or other bills (Grattan Institute, 2015).
UNESCO has recognised the importance of access to higher education by making equal access to education, including university, one of its Global Goals for 2030.

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) is holding an event,
Is Australian higher education addressing, or contributing to, access inequalities? on 28 November.You can join some sessions which will be streamed live online.

Learn more about inequality in higher education via the JCU library catalogue.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Reading Challenge Week 47 - A Young Adult Book

I'll let you in on a little secret: All librarians love Young Adult books. Yes, even the grumpy old librarians who would never admit to such things if you ask them. Back home, secretly, when no one is watching, they're reading books about dying teenagers falling in love and misunderstood werewolves. And possibly books about dying teenagers falling in love with misunderstood werewolves.

The young hip librarians just tattoo references to these books on prominent parts of their bodies.

So a Reading Challenge about Young Adult books? Please. You may as well challenge us to walk a short distance to an ice cream store.

Brenda Carter read Letters from the Inside by John Marsden

If you like a book with a twist that haunts you long after reading it, Letters from the Inside is the book for you. The story is told through letters written by two 15 year old girls, Mandy and Tracey. From innocent beginnings, they share the usual concerns regarding family, friends, school and romance, but as trust builds and the letters continue, each reveals that things are not as they seem.

It soon becomes clear that Mandy's home life is frequently disrupted by violence, and that Tracey is not the privileged, carefree girl she pretends to be. This psychological drama expresses the desperation of two trapped individuals who find a means of escape through their writing. The ambiguity surrounding the eventual fates of both girls creates a powerful ending.

You can find Letters from the Inside on the library shelf at 820.94 MARS, along with many other titles by this best-selling author.

Shannon Harmon read the Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan.

This is a series I fell in love with when it was first released and I reread it at least once a year. The series is aimed more at younger teens, John Flanagan originally wrote the stories for his son who was small for his age like the main character and to encourage an interest in reading. 

It follows the story of orphan Will when he becomes an apprentice to Halt the Ranger. Rangers are seen to be mysterious and seem to use black magic in their ability to move around unseen. Although being a Ranger was definitely not Will’s first choice, he wanted to be a knight, he falls into the role and learns the skills involved that make it appear that magic is involved. 

In the first book, The Ruins of Gorlan, Will and Horace (a former rival at the castle orphanage where Will grew up) defeat an enemy of the kingdom from assassinating the King and this builds a lasting friendship between the two.

As the series continues the characters of Will and his friends are further explored and it branches into an additional two series, Brotherband, and Rangers Apprentice: The Early Years. Recently a fourth series, The Royal Ranger, has been added to the family, showing the ongoing appeal of Flanagan's books.

Scott Dale read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

I had no idea that this was a Young Adult book; I came across this novel by a chance recommendation from a colleague. I think it is a very good book to read for young and old alike. It certainly does not go sentimental or attempt to simplify what are very complicated emotional situations that arise in the story. We get the perfect narrator to ensure this doesn’t happen.

So what is this curious incident all about? There is a big clue on the cover – a deceased dog with a big garden fork sticking out of it’s belly. Our narrator Christopher Boone discovers the dog and, being quite the Sherlock Holmes fan, decides to figure out who killed the pooch. So it’s a mystery novel – with a twist. The deceased is not a person and the detective is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. 

There is so much to like in this book. It is a mystery story with an interesting lead. Christopher (who is the only young adult in the story) uses very direct language, making for clean and uncluttered writing. There is a moment where Christopher relates a sentence from a “proper novel” that further illustrates the simplicity of his narrative (the sentence comes from Virginia Woolf in stream-of-consciousness mode). Christopher loves maths and shares some great solutions to mathematical problems that turn up in the story – the chapters also go in ascending prime numbers.  

It turns out that this is quite a well-known book that has had successful theatre adaptations. I had not previously heard of The Curious Incident and approached the novel without any expectations. I am glad that I had this book recommended (thanks Alan), it is a very enjoyable and worthwhile read. Find it at 820 HAD 1C CUR/VIN.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

More than 10,000 journals are now listed on Cabells Blacklist

Cabells Scholarly Analytics have updated the number of blacklisted or predatory journals in the publishing world. If you are looking for a quality peer-reviewed journal for research or publication, this respected resource is one tool to use.  Journals from all around the world are evaluated for their academic strength and rated by their citation use.

Cabells Whitelist have the preferred journals in a specific discipline to select for your work, while their Blacklist is useful as a guide for those titles to be wary of using.

Journal information includes scope, summaries, disciplines covered,whether the journal has open access material, citation metrics, and approximate charges for publishing and more.
The advanced search functionality allows for selecting specific country of origin, by publisher and whether the journal has open access content.

More information on metrics and publishing your research can also be found in our library's Publishing academic research libguide. Come in and talk to our friendly librarians for assistance.

Discovering the Yonge Collection - Duhamel du Monceau's 'The General Treaty of Fish'

Duhamel du Monceau, M., and De La Marre, M. (1769), Traite general des pesches, et histoire des poissons quelles fournissent, tant pour la subsistance des hommes que pour plusieurs autres usages qui ont rapport aux arts et au commerce, Saillant & Nyon Libraries, Paris. 

The General Treaty of Fish, known in French as Traité général des pesches, was written by Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau and Jean-Louis De La Marre between 1769 and 1782. It focuses largely on the boats, equipment and techniques of fishermen in France during that period. While the text covers mainly France there are also descriptions of areas of economic importance such as the Grand Banks.

The Traité général des pesches is an important historical work which provides unique insight into the practices around fishing in France during the mid-to-late 18th century. This work deals extensively with the species of fish found in Europe and beyond, their habits and habitats, techniques and equipment used in fishing and fish processing, and many other aspects of these endeavours.
Detail of an illustration from Traité général des pesches. Photo: James Cook University Library

Considered one of the finest extant works on fishing and fisheries, the book’s plates show both fresh and salt water fishes, fishing boats, fishing equipment and fishers. Particularly fine drawings are included, showing great detail of fishing nets and fishing hooks, with beautiful illustrations of hands tying and knotting nets. Great illustrative detail is also provided of both wooden and netted fish traps, as well as people working in fishing boats, and neighbouring villages. Many of the detailed technical drawings are placed in beautiful landscape and seascape settings, providing lovely historical records of coastal areas, often also showing large sailing and fishing boats.
Detail of an illustration from Traité général des pesches. Photo: James Cook University Library

The volume is particularly large, with book dimensions being 29cm (width), 45 cm (height), 6 cm (depth), with illustrations being up to 32x22 cm. Roughly 185 engraved plates illustrate the text. The copy provided here comprises 3 parts bound into one volume.

About the author
This early illustrated book about fish, fishing and fisheries was produced by one of the preeminent scientific investigators of the French enlightenment period, Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau (sometimes known as Hamel, du hamel, or Monceau).

Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau (1700-1782) was a proponent of the French Enlightenment and wrote a large number of books on a wide range of topics of scientific and economic interest. In his youth Monceau developed a passion for botany, which took him into studies of horticulture, agriculture and forestry. He first achieved scientific recognition when he was requested by the French Academy of Sciences to investigate the cause of a blight which was attacking the saffron plant industry in the 1720’s. His comprehensive and conclusive study showed that the disease was caused by a plant parasitic root fungus. This thorough investigation and report led to his election to the French Academy of Sciences in 1728.
Detail of an illustration from Traité général des pesches. Photo: James Cook University Library

Following this, he was appointed to the position of Inspecteur généneral de la marine in 1732. He undertook studies into the cultivation of hemp, rope making and wooden boat building. This led further into sail-making, boat building and various other maritime topics. He also published major works on the construction of naval ships. His detailed description of the construction of naval ships, Elemens de l’architecture navale, ou traite pratique de la construction des vaisseaux was published in 1752.

In 1741 Monceau founded a school of marine science, which became the Ecole des Ingenieurs-Constructeurs, the forerunner of the modern Ecole du Genie Maritime. He was also involved in the foundation of the Academie de Marine de Brest, still one of France’s most prestigious marine research institutes. In the 1980s, scientific studies of the Great Barrier Reef instigated collaboration between the French marine science community and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). Connections between AIMS and the French marine community were further strengthened in 1987 by the visit of Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s RV Calypso to AIMS. Such collaboration continues to this day.

From the year 1740 on Monceau made meteorological observations, and kept records of the influence of the weather on agricultural production. Throughout his life he continued to write on such diverse topics as naval architecture, botany, rope making and meteorology among many others. His research on fruit trees resulted in probably his most ambitious works, Trait des arbres fruitiers in 1768. Today, he is recognized as one of the forerunners of modern agronomy.

Monceau died in Paris in August 1782. At the time of his death, his forests in Vrigny and Denainvilliers contained no less than 692 species of trees. His enduring legacy was a testament to the amateurs and scientists who continued to build on his massive scientific achievements.

Suzie Davies, Special Collections Volunteer
James Cook University Library

* Read more about the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection
** Browse the titles in the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection

Hamer, A. (2016). Explore open collections: Traite general des pesches. Vancouver: UBC Library. Retrieved 23 April 2018, from

Payne, B. (2002). Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau, 1700-1782: Biography of Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau. Upperville, Va.: Oak Spring Garden Foundation. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from

Wikipedia contributors. (2018). Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21 April 2018, from

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 47

Young Adults! Everyone who has ever haunted a public library in their youth will know that the best books have a little "YA" sticker on the spine.

Young Adult novels belong in that strange between world where the plots are more dangerous than children's books, but not as depressing as books aimed at "grown ups". Actually, a lot of YA books are remarkably depressing, but that's beside the point. They at least have a bit of drive and drama, while the books without the "YA" sticker are all, like, "Isn't being an adult just a bucket of woe?"

We, unfortunately, do not have "YA" stickers on our books. We don't have any of those lovely public library-style stickers on our books (although, at least a couple of our librarians have been plotting to change that for years). We do have YA books, though.

Where are they? In the Curriculum Collection, mainly (where all the best books are), although some are up in the literature section.

How do you find them? By searching the Internet for lists of great young adult  books, and then seeing if they're in our catalogue.

Why should you do this? Because this week's Reading Challenge is:

47. A Young Adult Book.

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Library Summer Break Opening Hours

Stock Photo ID: #1396846 iClipArt
Now that exams are over, the library's extended opening hours have finished. We are now open during the following times:

Cairns Campus Library
The library will be staffed from Monday to Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, and the building will remain open until 10:00pm with security patrolling the building.

Mabo Library Townsville
The library will be open from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, and the Info Commons will remain open 24/7.

Both libraries will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Cairns Campus Library and the Mabo Library Townsville (including 24 hour InfoCommons in Townsville) will be closed from 12 noon on 24th December 2018 until 2nd January 2019, reopening at 8am on the 2nd January 2019.

You can also check the latest opening hours on the library website.