The Friends of the Launceston Mechanics’ Institute is holding its AGM on 22 May 2015 at 5:30pm in the Adult Education Buildings, 8 High St. Everyone interested in FOLMI’s activities is welcome. The agenda has the necessary and customary items, beginning with confirmation of last year’s minutes, then:
- President’s Report;
- Treasurer’s Report, which will be followed by a motion that, because of the small amounts of money handled by the association, we will avoid the cost of auditing (currently about $600+) by taking up the Dept. of Consumer Affairs & Fair Trading offer to apply for exemption from audit;
- Election of officers and committee (all of those currently holding positions are willing to continue, but of course new nominations are encouraged and will be called for on the evening);
- Setting of annual membership fee – currently $0; there are no plans to change this;
- Any further business.
There will be a less formal meeting and general discussion afterwards to talk about the events of the last year, answer questions and plan for the coming year, especially major projects.
Well, we couldn’t have asked for more from our CHG-funded Significance Assessment of the LMI Collection. Dr Susan Marsden of Adelaide was really enthusiastic about the Collection, spent several days looking over it and meeting with members and staff at QVMAG and Launceston LINC before writing a VERY commendatory report. It came in time for us to continue with the CHG round of 2015 applications outlined below. We’re planning to print off a dozen copies of the 44 page report to present to Council. LINC and others interested in the fate of the collection, as well as keep a copy for reference in D007 at UTAS.
You can access an electronic copy of the report, plus its appendices, via the FOLMI blog at: http://launcestonmechanicsinstitute.blogspot.com.au/. We will have a copy at the AGM on 22 May.
Dr Marsden made quite a few recommendations to preserve and promote the collection, including:
• establish a suitable permanent home in Launceston, with public access to it;
• continue cataloguing and digitising of items;
• develop projects (such as work on assessing items) and training programs for volunteers;
• increase public knowledge and use of the Collection as a whole, as well as of the most significant items;
• offer non LMI books to QVMAG;
• negotiate with LINC to restore the Australian and Tasmanian titles and related publications to the LMI Collection [now that’s ambitious!];
• use her significance assessment (SA) as a planning document.
One of the most useful aspects of a successful significance assessment is that it allows us to make further applications for support for our work, especially in asking the Community Heritage Grants scheme to fund a Preservation Needs Assessment – in fact it seems that such a step is almost guaranteed by the scheme. As well we’re looking for support for cataloguing the collection, and applications for both projects went in to CHG on 3 May. Again there’ll be a long wait to find out what we’ll get, and it won’t be until November 2015 that we’ll have official notice of getting a preservation needs assessment (budgeted at $6,127) and perhaps funding for cataloguing training and registration costs with Libraries Australia (budgeted at $6,370, with opportunities for five members who are qualified librarians to receive specialist training in this form of cataloguing).
The latest information on our blog has some great new items posted by Dorothy Rosemann and Peter Richardson, including:
- a deal brokered in 1920 between the Commonwealth Parliament librarian Arthur Wadsworth and the LMI librarian Joseph Forward to obtain a complete set of the Historical Records of Australia – the only ones to be found outside a capital city;
- Anthony Trollope’s works in the LMI fiction collection and the famous author’s visit to Tasmania; and
- publications by the Institute, especially in the C19th.
Sue and Emily McClarron have set up a Facebook account. It’s an even more immediate means of keeping up with news and members’ interests. Its most recent pages are on the Brindley organ (to mark Mothers Day 10 May); a 1917 children’s book The Young ANZACs; Anthony Trollope’s 200th anniversary; and an ABC OPEN posting of St John St as it might be now if the 1971 demolition of the Mechanics’ Institute hadn’t occurred. The Facebook address is: https://www.facebook.com/launcestonmechanicsinstitute
RECENT AND CURRENT PROJECTS
Inventory of nonfiction – Some sixteen members of FOLMI have been involved in compiling an inventory of the nonfiction books shelved in D007 at UTAS. They worked from November 2014 to April this year, usually in teams of two, to record in long-hand the publication and accession details of approximately 8000 titles. The recording sheets are filed in ring binders kept on the northern wall of D007. Creating an inventory has been a most important step in the long-term task of cataloguing the collection as a whole. We can use it to check via Trove which items are held elsewhere in Australia; where that’s the case, we can access full publication and physical details of these books. It will be a great saving in time in cataloguing, as we can merely indicate in the National Union Catalogue that we hold a copy, and to extract those details for use in our own collection catalogue. It also gives us an opportunity to add LMI Collection titles that aren’t held elsewhere in Australian public collections onto the Australian National Bibliographic Database.
Inventory of popular fiction – Two of the inventory teams have continued to record details of the Victorian & Edwardian Fiction Collection inherited from Launceston LINC. The State Library back in the early 1990s created a catalogue for the fiction up to 1914, but it had a number of limitations. It included quite a few books published before 1914 but had never been in the Launceston Mechanics’ Institute collection; they came from donations from the public or other libraries all over Tasmania, and seem just to have been included on the Stack shelves in Launceston because they were of a similar venerable age. Also, as we’ve learnt that the LMI certainly still existed partly under that name until 1929, and until 1945 administered by the once-LMI Board, any items transferred to the State Library in 1945 as part of the collection as it existed then we now consider as part of our collection.
So some members have been separating out books that were never owned by the LMI and adding in the ones after 1914 that were, and the recording teams have continued filling out inventory sheets for them to include with the nonfiction when the big copy-cataloguing task begins. Quite a few of the weeded books, like those from Evandale Subscription Library, Longford, Deloraine and other local libraries, and those presented as Sunday School Prizes, will go to QVMAG, who are adding considerably to their holdings of books with regional affiliations. Others, like those from Ouse, Green Ponds, Port Esperance and Bushy Park have been offered to local history groups elsewhere in the state who’ve shown strong interest in recovering items that offer insights into their past. It’s hoped that this part of the cataloguing project will be finished and reported on at the 22 May AGM.
Lady travellers – Anna Lynde has been compiling a bibliography of works in our collection by intrepid lady travellers and explorers of the nineteenth century. This was clearly a subject of great interest to LMI members.
Catalogues published by the LMI - Sue McClarron has been analysing the many printed catalogues produced by the Institute for the convenience of members. Sue is looking at the ways the collection was organised and how it evolved over time.
Women’s roles and contributions to the LMI – Dorothy Rosemann has been working through the Institute's records now held at QVMAG, recording the level of membership and involvement of women in the Institute.
Flickr project – Peter Richardson has developed an extensive online collection and exhibition of Institute bookplates, binders' tickets, booksellers' stamps and other ephemera found in the LMI books at https://www.flickr.com/photos/launcestonmechanicsinstitute/
It’s our hope that discussion and the Q&A session after the AGM on the 22nd will open up new avenues for members to initiate projects and to indicate their interest in participating in those that are suggested. Come along and join in!