World War One artefacts drawn from the State Library of NSW’s renowned
collections are heading to Coffs Harbour for a special curator talk and
preservation workshop on Tuesday, July 21.
NSW State Librarian and Chief Executive Alex Byrne: “This will be the first
time these remarkable and historically significant items, which are held in the
Library’s rich collections, will be shown in Coffs Harbour as part of our World
War One Touring Program.
100 years the State Library has been collecting the personal stories of
soldiers – their diaries, letters, photographs and drawings – and we’re
thrilled to be sharing their moving first-hand accounts with the communities in
which they resided.”
On July 21, the
Harry Bailey Memorial Library will host a free public talk with the State
Library’s WWI Curator Elise Edmonds who will talk about the material and share
the fascinating story of how the Library acquired its first collection of
soldiers’ diaries – a collection that was recently inscribed in the UNESCO
Australian Memory of the World Register.
At the end of
the war in 1918, the State Library embarked on an extraordinary collecting
drive for soldiers’ diaries, spearheaded by the forward-thinking principal
librarian William Ifould, who recognised their historic value. The State
Library has been adding to this collection ever since with diaries, letters, maps,
photographs, artworks, posters, books and other objects. The State Library has also
just completed the digitisation of its collection of some 1,200 WWI diaries,
thanks to the support of the NSW Government, and recently released over 50,000
digitised pages for the public to help transcribe using the Library’s
purpose-built transcription tool.
the Harry Bailey Memorial Library can read some of the powerful excerpts from John
MacNamara‘s diaries”, said Elise Edmonds.
MacNamara was an agricultural student of Coffs Harbour when he enlisted at
Casula aged 19, on February 2 1916. He embarked from Sydney on board RMS
Mooltan on August 19 1916 and served in the 1st Light Horse Brigade, and later
as a wireless operator with the first squadron, Australian Flying Corps. He was
awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in action before returning to
Australia and being discharged in 1919. His diary is filled with details about
the destruction and terror caused by the new technologies of war. He describes
bombs as the most “demoralising” weapons, “as apart from the damage they do
they play up with one's nerves so you see a plane above you and when he
drops a bomb you hear it whistling…and are sure that it is going to fall on
your own head.”
Edmonds will present her talk at the Harry Bailey Memorial Library, Coffs
Harbour, Tuesday July 21, at 10.30am and a Conservation Care Officer will present
the Preservation Workshop at 2pm.
FREE, but people can secure a place by visiting the Library website at libraries.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au
or by calling 6648 4900.