Australian Government Web Archive

After a bit of a wait the National Library has gone live with its Australian Government Web Archive.

The service allows users to access the archived websites in the Australian Commonwealth government domain. Currently accessible are harvests from  June 2011, March 2012, March 2013 and April 2013.

For content older and, in some cases, more recent than that available here, users should still access PANDORA.

It is to be hoped in the long run that content from the previous Australian Whole of Domain Harvests from c2004 will also be available here and that there will be an integrated TROVE, PANDORA, AGWA search.

But even as it is, the Digital Archiving Section of the NLA should be congratulated on producing this very useful service.

WW1 for librarians

IWW poster, 1916

IWW poster, 1916

With the anniversary of the start of the First World War looming, there is sure to be demand in public libraries for information to complete school assignments or otherwise to commemorate the events and in particular the soldiers who fought and died.

While it is fine to remember and honour the service of those who went to fight, it is even more important to remember, commemorate and celebrate those who refused to fight.

In Australia there were a range of political and social institutions who were opposed to the war and who jointly defeated government attempts to introduce conscription.

Below are listed a few sources to assist those working in public libraries to provide their users with a range of useful resources. It is only a very small sample, there are hundreds more sources for the enterprising librarian to find.

Australian Dictionary of Biography  - Tom Barker -

Australian Dictionary of Biography - Vida Goldstein -

Australian War Memorial - Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918 – Volume XI – Australia during the War (7th edition, 1941) -

Australian Women’s Register – Women’s Peace Army -

Bobbie Oliver, Peacemongers: Conscientious Objectors to Military Service in Australia, 1911-1945, ISBN:  9781863681841

eMelbourne - Anti-War and Peace Movements -

Honest History

IWW – Tom Barker -

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library - WW1 & Anti-Conscription campaigns -

Joy Damousi and Marilyn Lake, Eds., Gender and War : Australians at War in the Twentieth Century : Studies in Australian History,  CUP, ISBN: 9780521457101

National Archives of Australia - Conscription referendums, 1916 and 1917 – Fact sheet 161 –

National Film and Sound Archive – educational resources – World War 1 and the Conscription Referenda -

National Library of Australia - TROVE – Direct Action (journal of the IWW) -

National Library of Australia - TROVE – Women’s Peace Army –

National Library of Australia - TROVE Search “Conscientious Objector “(date range 1914-1919)

Queensland State Archives – Conscripted to serve -

State Library of New South Wales - Recruitment and conscription -

State Library of Victoria – Arguments over Conscription -

Verity Burgmann, Revolutionary Industrial Unionism : The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia, CUP, ISBN: 9780521476980

Wikipedia – Frank Tudor -

Wikipedia – War Precautions Act 1914 -

Wikipedia – World War I conscription in Australia -

Women’s Peace Army  – Manifesto -


The war was destructive for Australia as a nation which lost not only around 60 000 of its young men, with many more thousands left wounded, deranged, shell-shocked and damaged in countless ways, but lost also a sense of itself as a confident, independent, global pioneer in creating an advanced democracy that drew the eyes of all the world to the new Commonwealth. Instead, Australia succumbed in the end to the demand for loyalty, the demonisation of reformers and the revitalisation of the forces of imperialism.

One hundred years on, Australia has seemingly become the militarist nation Higgins warned about in his essay ‘Australian ideals’. Rather than celebrate the world-first democratic achievements forged by women and men in the founding years of our nationhood, the years that made Australia distinctive and renowned, we are told that World War I, in which Australians fought for the British Empire, was the supreme creative event for the nation. – Marilyn Lake (

Historic ALA posters

ALA poster

This 1921 poster from the ALA is very nice.

On one hand it very much fits into the US self improvement  through independent study ethos, as popularised by Andrew Carnegie and to some extent by Ayn Rand – though of course Randians these days don’t like any public services. The worker here is supposedly improving his chances at getting better employment by reading.

It could of course also be seen as an example of Communist/Anarchist art within the noble worker paradigm. The worker studying revolutionary literature to improve everybody’s chances at getting better employment.

Either way, I like the use of the term power within the poster. Whether it is a person’s individual potential or the power of the working class as a whole, it works.

This was brought to my attention by this article which also links to the originals.

For an interesting comparison here is a soviet poster from 1920, which says ‘Knowledge breaks the chains of slavery’

soviet poster

Australian library wars of 1970 revisited

I read with some surprise an article – Fleming’s vision: the first computer for Australian libraries – in the current November/December 2013 issue of InCite written by Ian McCallum of Libraries Alive!

Of the many interesting features of the article are the following quotes:

Inevitably he stepped on some toes. The ‘elders of the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographic Services (AACOBS) ‘ were wary of this newcomer with his background in management as the art of the possible rather than collection development and bibliography….  p.20

What a superb irony! The cold-shouldered ‘non-librarian’ shifted the National Library, and by example, other major libraries, into the red-hot world of information technology. Fleming’s understanding of technology in the future of libraries was much more professionally acute than the views of the ‘concerned librarians’ . p.21

Now I would have thought that people writing for a library journal would have some more regard to the fact that librarians would naturally support librarianship as a profession.

McCallum writes about librarian’s opposition to Allan Fleming’s becoming the senior librarian of Australia in 1970 as though somehow it was a bad thing. In fact those opposed to his elevation within the Concerned Librarians Group were sensible, correct and some of best librarians of the day. Any attempt to make out they were anything less is ill-judged. Those upset at the appointment were rightly concerned that instead of any of the highly qualified librarians in Australia getting the job, it was instead delivered as a gift from a politician to an unqualified but clubable ex-spy who’d been in the army and gone to the right school.

As to the further claim in the article that Allan Fleming was some sort of computer visionary who brought computers to the NLA, well really.

Major libraries worldwide were already of course getting computers, and the NLA would have gotten them whomsoever was in charge at the time. And in fact the first major Australian library to computerise their holdings was the U Syd Library run by the exceptional Harrison Bryan. The same Harrison Bryan (a later DG NLA) who didn’t get the position in 1970 because it went to Fleming.

Before and during Fleming’s time in libraries, there was a group of librarians running Australian libraries of a calibre not before or since seen. These librarians including Bryan, Whyte, Sharr, Horton, Balnaves and Pat and Ted Flowers wrote well and often, were respected in their fields and by the wider academic community and were also respected enough to be routinely asked to serve in a range of capacities by governments and organisations who recognised their knowledge and skills. Fleming no matter how benevolent he was does not deserve to be in their company.

Addendum, this attack on ‘concerned librarians’ also now appears in the latest issue of the Australian Library Journal - extraordinary!

Real librarians

We all know librarians hate stereotypes of librarians, which is why some are compelled to indelibly ink their skin and post public pictures of themselves or anonymously tell the world that they don’t like library patrons.
I’m not sure what they’re trying to prove with this, since basically no one but librarians cares about librarian stereotypes, and all the tattoos in the world won’t change anyone’s opinion.

- This totally, read it all

For the last x many years so many in the library profession have been whining about the ‘librarian stereotype’ of the severe older lady, the shoosher, the hairbunned spinster, the attractive man in tweed, etc. that was presented in the media.

It was not a stereotype that ever really connected with the public because they actually deal with librarians in all their diversity.

But some librarians, they take it all so seriously.

In recent years there has been elicited huge joy at the number of librarians who don’t fit the stereotype, through their hair, clothing, tattoos, makeup, muscles etc.

Doing this is all very well, but is problematic as it is merely based on how people look and not how they perform or are perceived. Of course, everyone should dress how they want, but this is just personal choice and shouldn’t be linked to the profession as a whole.

How about we develop a stereotype for librarians as professional, focussed, knowledgeable, disciplined, technology capable etc. ?

This month Incite is asking for contributions for its Jan/Feb 2014 issue thus:

do you know a hipster librarian?

We’re looking for photos, stories, out

of the box email addresses and zany

twitter hashtags, tattoos, ukuleles,

and all that creative energy. We want

to track it down and give it some


I just hope none are found.

Morrissey and libraries

Morrissey in Manchester Central Library . Photographer Tom Sheehan

Morrissey in Manchester Central Library. Photographer Tom Sheehan, 1984

After reading Morrissey’s long awaited Autobiography, I am a little sad to report that there is not much said of libraries nor the role they have played in his life and art. There are yet two mentions, but no real exposition. In past interviews, Morrissey has mentioned that his mother (Elizabeth Dwyer) was an Assistant Librarian but there is no discussion of this in the book.

“Fields are places in books, and books are placed in libraries.” p. 3

“The new Hulme Library is where Jackie [Morrissey's sister] and I prowl each day once St Wilfred’s [Morrissey's school] pulley raises its draw-briddge, and books transport the mind until Mother appears to cart us homewards. Around the flashy library, the cobbled streets of terraced houses are dark cabins with their lights out, with windows like eyes facing downward, awaiting the chop.” p.22

from, Morrissey. (2013). Autobiography. ISBN: 9780141394817 0141394811

On Greer

On hearing that Germaine Greer easily Australia’s greatest writer is providing (for a modest sum – which she in turn is giving to charity) her archival papers to the University of Melbourne archive. I find it sufficient reason to provide a couple of quotes, neither of which are particularly true…

Greer - A library is a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity.

Susan Ryan on Greer - Women who were housewives, who were pretty miserable … felt inspired by her book [The Female Eunuch] and their life changed. They didn’t become megastars, but they became a librarian or something. 

Why such an important national figure’s archival collection is not going to the National Library is obvious, but why is that so - well, never mind, never mind.

Neil Gaiman speech

“But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories – they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.

In the last few years, we’ve moved from an information-scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. That’s about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.”

Neil Gaiman speech to the Reading Agency – Read more at The Guardian

Hawke Review

Bit late because of holidays, but look the Hawke  FOI Review has come out, with a handy new practice guide.

The Review has sought to retain the free public access provisions in regards to application fees, personal information, and the initial 5 hours of processing.


We will look forward to see whether any new government implements the recommendations.


May 22

What a day for information.

The Attorney General Mark Dreyfus announces that Australia is joining the Open Government Partnership and the interpretative conversation begins.

Also it was NSS13, so I could watch 40+ children being enthralled by a telling of The Wrong Book and a costumed performance of it afterwards at my workplace.

Sport – it is a thing

Here are some things about that thing, that relate to Australian collections or management – in case you wanted some quick sports reference help. They come from this conference paper Sports archives and collections in Australia which has some links at the end, to save you opening the document here they are:

National Sport Information Centre, Australian Sports Commission
Davis Sporting Collection (State Library of New South Wales)
Tom Brock Collection (State Library of New South Wales)
MV Anderson Chess Collection (State Library of Victoria)
History of the Paralympic Movement in Australia (Australian Paralympic Committee)
Olympic and Paralympic games digital archive (National Library of Australia)
Athletics in Australia, 1890- (Paul Jenes, Peter Hamilton, David Tarbotton, Fletcher McEwen and work from Bert Gardiner)
Empire Games, Sydney, 1938 (National Archives of Australia)
Olympic Games, Melbourne, 1956 (National Archives of Australia)
Australian Centre for Paralympic Studies Oral History Project (National Library of Australia)
National Sports Museum
Australian Centre for Olympic Studies
Orange City Council Sporting Hall of Fame
Picture Australia – sport (National Library of Australia)
Australian Rules Football (State Library of Victoria)
Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games (Powerhouse Museum)
Clearinghouse for Sport (Australian Sports Commission)
Criteria for Judging Heritage Significance, Australian Sports Commission
Heritage Significance Assessment of Objects, Australian Sports Commission
Sport Australia Hall of Fame
NSW Hall of Champions
Australian Society for Sports History
There are a number of people tagging sport in TROVE, here is an example