Saturday, December 31, 2011

#blog12daysxmas Day 7 New challenge for 2012

2012 is just around the corner and from the first week in January for the coming year the City of Boroondara Library Service will be taking part in a Flickr group challenge called Friday Photos 2012. Each Saturday we will be given a theme for the following week and can post up to three photographs on that theme in the Flickr group by the following Friday.

We will then be using the opportunity to write about those photographs in two of the library blogs, this one Telling Tales and our reading blog, Bookends. The theme for the first week has just been announced and it is, perhaps not unsurprisingly, "Beginnings". There are all sorts of possibilities with that theme for local and family history, so watch out for what we come up with!

In the mean time you might not be aware that the City of Boroondara Library Service has a Flickr account where you can look at photographs relating to the libraries currently. Check in here and see what you can find. Remember our historical photographs can be found on the web via the library catalogue, via Picture Australia or via Trove.

Friday, December 30, 2011

#blog12daysxmas Day 6 Radical Melbourne

It's not long now to January 6 when the voting for the National Year of Reading "Our Story" closes! For details of all the books to vote on and where to do your voting see the Telling Tales post on Bearbrass a couple of days ago or check out our Bookends blogpost today.

Another of the books on the list that people who are interested in local and family history might like to read is Radical Melbourne by Jeff and Jill Sparrow. Originally this book started as a walking tour that covered sites in inner Melbourne that had some link to political struggle and to Leftist history. 50 inner city locations are looked at and the events and incidents the book focuses on are from the beginnings of the city to the 1940s.

Maybe this is a book which typifies Melbourne for you?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

#blog12daysxmas Day 5 Mimovich plaque

Mimovich plaque by Hecuba's Story
Mimovich plaque, a photo by Hecuba's Story on Flickr.

As a followup to the post yesterday about Alexandra Gardens in Kew here is a photograph of the actual plaque in the gardens commemorating the gifting of the Mimovich sculptures to the City of Kew.

It's a lovely day today so I hope some of you find time to visit and spend some time in Alexandra Gardens.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

#blog12daysxmas Day 4 Visconti House

Visconti House is not strictly speaking a local history book or really anything to do with Boroondara. It is a young adult mystery novel written by Melbourne author, Elsbeth Edgar. It is a story about Laura (and her family) who have moved from Melbourne to live in a Victorian country town in a tumbling down mansion from another era.

Laura, whilst happy at home with her parents in the house, hates school where she feels different. Enter Leon, another person who is different. Leon and Laura gradually build up a friendship by tracing the history of Laura's mansion, the Visconti House of the title, and of Carlo Visconti, the man who built it. This is a great story about how to use local history sources: it is local history at work. There are plans and photographs and newspapers and the local public library and a cemetery as well as oral history gathered from older residents and relatives. There is even a bit of digging - of sorts.

I really enjoyed the book and read it from start to finish in one sitting. It is certainly a theme that is dear to my heart. I liked the way all the sources were covered and that there were frustrations and waiting times as there inevitably are when you are really tracing the history of a house or family. That being said, it did all come together rather neatly. But it is a work of fiction. It is a great book to use if you are wanting to encourage an interest in family or local history in younger people.

#blog12daysxmas Day 3 Alexandra Gardens

One of the most beautiful places in the City of Boroondara is undoubtedly the Alexandra Gardens in Kew. This oasis of calm and green is situated in Cotham Road between the Kew Library and Gellibrand Street. Visitors to the library can enjoy sitting looking from the western part of the building to these gardens and can wander through them on the way to the junction.

Alexandra Gardens are of historical significance and a "substantially intact park of the Edwardian period and for being one of the few formally landscaped parks in Kew" according to the City of Kew Urban Conservation Study completed in 1988.

Though a band rotunda had been erected locally in 1863 as a memorial of the establishment of the Borough of Kew, the Alexandra Gardens were an Edwardian creation and officially opened to the public on 8 April 1908 by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Reginald Talbot.

The bandstand was erected and opened on 14 December 1910 to mark the Jubilee of the Municipality of Kew and the establishment of the Town of Kew and provided a place for the Kew Band to play a series of moonlight concerts that summer.

The Queen Victoria Jubilee Fountain, formerly situated adjacent to the Kew Post Office in the junction was removed from its original site in 1924 to make way for the war memorial and relocated in the north-west corner of Alexandra Gardens.

Another pleasant feature of the gardens is the installation of sculptures by local artist Leopoldine Mimovich. The ten sculptures were given to the people of Kew "for their enjoyment" by the sculptor and were officially accepted by the Mayor of Kew, Councillor Michael Montalto, on 11 February 1990. Another of her sculptures celebrates the reopening of the Kew Library in its current location.

#blog12daysxmas Day 2 Bearbrass

In Australia in 2012 we are having a year long celebration of reading: the National Year of Reading 2012. One of the first activities is to get readers' views on what are the books that reflect what our sense of place and identity. So there is the Our Story competition going on across all states and territories to identify the one book people identify with most in their place. Shortlists have been compiled and circulated and the closing date is 6 January 2012. You can vote at your local public library, bookshop or online at the ABC website. You can get more information about the Our Story competition and the shortlisted books for all states and territories on the National Year of Reading site.

Among the six books shortlisted for Victoria is Robyn Annear's Bearbrass which was first published in 1995. It was awarded the A.A. Phillips prize for Australian Studies in the 1995 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, and was shortlisted for the 1995 NSW Premier's Literary Awards and the Age Book of the Year. Bearbrass was republished in a new edition in 2005.

Based on one of the early local names for Melbourne, Bearbrass reconstructs the early village as it might from been from 1835 when white settlers first appeared until the village was changed forever by the gold rushes of the 1850s and the resultant population influx. Annear overlays the nineteenth century village with her impressions and experiences of the modern city making an entertaining read that touches the reader on many levels.

Will you be voting for Bearbrass in the Our story competition?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

#blog12daysxmas Day 1 Hugh Trumble

It seems appropriate at this time of the year to blog about one of Boroondara's cricket greats, particularly since one of our library borrowers sitting in the Hugh Trumble members' bar at the G did not know of his Boroondara connections.

Hugh Trumble (1867-1938) was born at the Collingwood Stockade on 19 May 1867, the third of four boys. His father, William was Head Warder at the Collingwood Stockade which was on the site of the current Lee Street Primary School in Carlton.The Stockade, opened in 1953, had by 1866 become an asylum. While young Hugh moved to Ararat where his father, William, was employed as a warden in the psychiatric hospital. William transferred back to Melbourne with his family after the Kew Asylum (Willsmere) opened in 1872, and Hugh attended school at nearby Hawthorn Grammar School while living at the Kew Asylum.

Hugh had a career with the National Bank of Australasia which he joined in 1887 and this included a stint as manager of the Kew branch from 1908 to 1911. He resigned this post in November 1911 to become secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC).

He first played for Victoria in 1887/8 and made five tours of England. It was during the 1899 tour that he was described as "the best bowler Australia has sent us". Secretary of the MCC until his death in 1938, he oversaw the building of two new grandstands at the MCG and was well known as a raconteur. Trumble whose connections with Boroondara lasted until his death died at his Hawthorn Grove, Hawthorn, home on 14 August 1938.

Photo credits:
Hugh Trumble, photographer J. Bolland (in various collections including State Library of Victoria & Melbourne Cricket Club)
Metroplitan Lunatic Asylum Kew, c. 1880 (National Gallery of Victoria source: Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Google meets Boroondara's history

Telling Tales: Boroondara's Plaques and Memorials online is a great source of information. In this project Google meets local history in a new way which, via the platform of a social media tool, a wiki, allows for continuous expansion of this project in ways yet to be thought of. The project highlights the benefits of new technology for the very traditional area of local history. With this tool members of the community and Council staff in various departments have on their desktop historical information and photographs which previously was only accessible in print form. And all of this is embedded in a location tool, Google Maps.

The wiki format allows for everyone to comment and tell their stories online. Open Telling Tales on an iPad or netbook and leave your desk for the streets and you have an historical walking tour (or several) with you. This is a great tool which will have many uses for the community of Boroondara. Well done @librarianidol! You have done a great job with this project!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

#blogjune 28 City of Hawthorn Centenary 1860-1960 grand parade

During the last year we have been celebrating 150 years of public library service in the area that we have called Boroondara since 1994. The first library in the area and the one that has provided continuous service to the community is Hawthorn Library. Like the City of Hawthorn (well, the municipality of Hawthorn really), Hawthorn Library celebrated its centenary in 1960. There wasn't a Hawthorn Historical Society then, but Mrs Carbines at Hawthorn City Library then based at its Burwood Road site had a keen interest in the celebrations. Unfortunately she also died of breast cancer in 1960 and so 1960 was both a celebration and a tragedy for Hawthorn City Library.

This video celebrates the street procession in Burwood Road to celebrate the Hawthorn centenary in 1960. It is interesting to note all the normal suspects: Hawthorn City Band, Hawthorn City Pipe Band, the scouts, the girl guides and I am sure I caught a glimpse of Happy Hammond! Hawthorn Town Hall also stars and is dressed up for the occasion. You can see the edge of the library in the first couple of images and all of it when there is a scan up the road east from the Hawthorn Town Hall.

And, of course, Swinburne is featured. This film was taken by Swinburne students and, therefore, there is a bit of a focus on the Swinburne float and excitement when it appears. Swinburne has a close and long-standing connection with the City of Hawthorn. It was named after George Swinburne who was a Hawthorn Councillor from 1898 to 1904 and Mayor in 1902/3.

Swinburne has released quite a number of historical videos on Youtube. You can check them out here and may find some of them of interest into your research into Hawthorn's history.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

#blogjune 24 Kew Urban Conservation Study

We have lots of fascinating books covering the history of the area in the City of Boroondara Library Service's collections. And sometimes the titles and covers are not very good give-aways of their usefulness.

Take the cover of Kew: City of Kew Urban Conservation Study which was published by the former City of Kew in 1988. Does that give you any idea of the gems inside it? It looks like a standard report with a meandering Yarra going through it. Volume 1 is just that and covers planning controls, methodology, the Burra Charter, etc.

But volume two whose cover is illustrated above is an incredibly useful tool to family and local historians and to library staff. It has a useful 31 page summary of the history of Kew from early days to the late 1970s. Whilst the focus is on planning and development and the built form, it is a very useful tool if someone is looking for a quick context to a property or just wants a quick glimpse into Kew's past. This section also includes a range of maps and subdivision plans from different eras that give a good sense of how the city came to be as it was in 1988 and provides the context for how it has evolved further until today.

The second part of volume two had detailed histories of Grade A properties and limited information on Grade B properties. This includes houses of various eras from the early to mid Victorian up until post World War II as well as churches, memorials and institutions and provides a great tool. The 1988 illustrations are an historical resource in their own right.

The next section covers open spaces and examines formal parklands such as Alexandra Gardens, something defined as Remnants of Former Users which includes the former Outer Circle Railway, Yarra Boulevard, and Flood prone areas such as the two golf clubs and Hay's Paddock. Again each section provides a short history of each site as well as current conditions.

The final section is entitled Building Conservation Guidelines and includes all sort of useful surveys of elements of buildings. So if you want a bit of information about chimneys in the early 20th century, this is a good tool.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

#blogjune Balwyn Library

The house and surgery of Dr Inglis stood on the site of the Balwyn Library at 336 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn. This photograph was taken in 1919.

Dr E.M.H. Inglis(1891-1955)was Balwyn's first doctor.

Balwyn Library was opened in February 1978. It was designed by Daryl Jackson, Evan Walker Architects Pty Ltd and received a citation in the public libraries section of the Library Design Awards.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Library Services Advisory Committee - Call for Nominations!

The City of Boroondara is currently calling for community nominations for its Library Services Advisory Committee. If you live, work or study in Boroondara and would like to have a say about your libraries, have a look at the Committee's Terms of Reference on Council's website. Nominations close on 20 June and should be emailed to

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

#blogjune Camberwell Central Library

Camberwell's free public library service began in 1955 and the City Library was located in the old Subscription Library building in Canterbury Gardens. By 1961 the City's book stock had increased from 6,000 volumes to 18,000 volumes, membership and book loans had also increased and it was apparent that larger premises were needed.

Consequently, in 1961 the City library moved to premises in the old Town Hall building in Camberwell Road. Although built in 1891 as a civic building, the building was converted through major alterations to the interior as a library. This new library replaced the old site in Canterbury Gardens as the Central Library, but Canterbury Library continued as a branch library until the end of 1977.

Councillor H.F.W.Dawson, Chairman of the Library Committee, presided over proceedings at the opening of Camberwell Library on 23 June 1961 and the Chief Secretary, Arthur Rylah, was guest speaker.

Friday, June 3, 2011

#blogjune Camberwell Library and the Bookmobile

In 1957 Camberwell Council spent 8,000 pounds on the purchase of a Bookmobile. The Bookmobile initially visited 8 sites throughtout the Camberwell area, operating from the rear of the Canterbury Library. It was estimated then in 1957 that this "Information, Education, Recreation Vehicle" would serve the City for ten years. In fact the Bookmobile went out for the last time on 20 Dec 1979, having doubled its life expectancy.

City Librarian Tom Woodrow poses for the camera during the official launch of the Bookmobile in 1957. Was this the first book issued from the Bookmobile? And who is the smiling woman?

Ladies boarding the Bookmobile c.1970.

#blogjune Camberwell Library

Thomas Woodrow was the first Chief Librarian of the City of Camberwell. He was appointed in 1954 to establish the new library service. As chief Librarian for 21 years he was known as an innovative and far-sighted individual. He was the driving force behind the creation of the Camberwell-Waverley Regional Library and the establishment of branches at Ashburton and Balwyn.

Camberwell's free public library service began in 1955 and the City Library was located in the old Canterbury Subscription Library building in Canterbury Gardens.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Boroondara 150 - Kew Library

Exterior of the Kew Public Library in Walpole Street, originally a cottage next door to the municipal offices.

The first library in Kew was that of the Kew Literary and Scientific Society which was opened in August 1860. At the height of its popularity, the library had 8,000 volumes. In 1904 a cottage adjoining the Kew Town Hall was purchased for use as a library. Kew Council took over the library, now Kew Public Library, in 1915 and ran it until 1917 when the Kew Traders Association took charge. Finally in 1937 the library was closed, a Library Committee set up by Council and a major overhaul of stock and renovation of the library building undertaken. the bulk of the stock was pulped, new stock was purchased and at this stage the children's section was established. The Library was reopened in December 1937 and from 1947 received State Government funding of £1 for £1 through the Free Libraries Services Board. Kew Councillor and historian, W.D. Vaughan, was for many years a member of this Board and served as chairman.

W.D. Vaughan, Kew Councillor and historian. Cr Vaughan was chairman of the Library Committee as well as member of the Free Libraries Service Board of Victoria.

"Silence must be observed" states the stern sign over the door in this photograph taken in 1945 of the Children's section of the former Kew Public Library in Walpole Street.

Kew Library soon outgrew the cottage and extensions were completed in October 1953. Further extensions and a complete renovation was undertaken the following year with the civic opening on 19 August 1954. These photographs show the exterior of the renovated building and views of various parts of the library.

1953 extensions...

...and after the 1954 extension and renovation.

The interior of the newly renovated library showing the light filled space, the shelves of books, the catalogue drawers and circulation desk, 1954.

The Tiny Tots corner of the children's section of the Kew Public Library appears here, in 1954, in pristine condition and without the library bear which has been a feature of the children's section for so long.
...and the Children's Section.
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