Featured News New era for rare treasures

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Wed, 2 Sep 2015

New era for rare treasures

James Cook University’s library is sharing North Queensland’s cultural riches with the world, with the launch of its new digital archive.

The Online Special Collections Repository contains rare and fragile materials of cultural and historical significance to North Queensland that have been digitised and made available on the NQHeritage website (nqheritage@jcu).

On display at the library will be a wide variety of rare materials from the nine different special collections, including historical photographs, original artist sketchbooks, important business records, and the personal records of significant North Queenslanders.

A particular highlight is the photographs taken by the Reverend Frederic Charles Hall which date from 1902, and 39 sketchbooks by Atherton Tableland artist Val Russell. A carved writing desk with personalized silver and glass accessories dating from the 1900s used local Townsville personality Marjorie Green will also be shown.

Special collections librarian, Bronwyn McBurnie said the material available today was just the start. The vast bulk of some 45,000 early photos of North Queensland are still to be digitised and published.

She said NQHeritage marks the beginning of a new era for JCU Library Special Collections.

“It will allow us to provide a window into our many collections regardless of where you might be in the world. Through the new repository we can showcase the treasures we hold and where copyright law allows, unlock the digital copies we have for viewing via the Internet.”

Guests from around Australia, including family of people who have donated items to the collection and the Emeritus Bishop of Carpentaria, Tony Hall-Matthews, will gather to see JCU Vice Chancellor Sandra Harding perform the official launch.

“There is great interest in the history and heritage of North Queensland and the tropics and from today students, academics and researchers around the world will be able to see and learn more about our home,” Professor Harding said.

“The repository is a confident declaration that the Library and the University has its gaze firmly fixed on the future and is committed to exceptional scholarship through discovery, access and preservation of rare and fragile materials of cultural and historical significance.”

Ms McBurnie said there was a large amount of unpublished material such as original manuscripts of individuals and business records that could not be made available for viewing online, because they were subject to an unlimited copyright period.

She said efforts were underway with the federal government to try and have the law changed.


Contacts: Special Collections librarian Bronwyn McBurnie
E: Bronwyn.mcburnie@jcu.edu.au

Pictures of the collection: http://bit.ly/1LPxLxX

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