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LIBRARIES UNDER THREAT

Sybil Jack

I am increasingly concerned about the effect that changes to libraries and archives are making - changes that will impact on independent scholars perhaps more even than others. Michael Wilding has produced a worrying paper published in the 'Sydney Review of Books' that makes plain not only the destruction of our heritage but also the possibility of 1984 type 'reconstruction' of the material available. All of this, for independent scholars is exacerbated by the imposition of fees for the use of material but this is the least of my worries. I would like to think that we could start a movement to prevent librarians and archivists becoming the gatekeepers of independent investigation

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  1. Jan Cooper July 17, 2018 at 9:29 pm #
    Sybil I am researching in Melbourne at the moment. I would like to think a 'movement' might be wider than just a focus on librarians and archivists to the whole library environment. I find the State Library simply appalling though Mitchell still good,from a physical point of view. The State libarary is noisy : the reverberating prominent circular staircase, the noisy service desk exposed to the reading room, the desks all 'group' desks and the so called 'quiet areas' anything but quiet when you can hear the service desk personnel providing high pitched service across the whole room practically. Also, the tables, all group tables, are light weight and reverberate if someone places pressure on them. The Victorian Public Library reading room is vastly superior in all aspects. The second major concern I have about the State and Mitchell is the diminished almost disappeared access to parliamentary papers on open shelving. For my PhD I had to source materials from Gazettes, parliamentary debates, and parliamentary papers tabled in parliament. It was only possible to do this by accessing these myself, from the wonderful collection on the Lower Ground Floor 'Special Collections"' at the NLA. Two or three tables were provided for searchers accessing these materials. The hours were somewhat limited, but not greatly, and virtuall no staffing assistance was required - occasionally I would seek out a staffer but in this area of work, independent searching is usually necessary. I have told Christine I will check Mitchell again, but I am confident in saying that none of these materials are available for the nineteenth century and I think for most of the Twentieth either in the State or Mitchell library I could talk about all the files that have not been archived as yet and I believe may never be ( I think in particular of soldier settlement and closer settlement files in the Western Division), butperhaps that is for another time. Regards Jan Cooper

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