State Library to replicate and digitise rare Queensland-made Braille globe

An intricate Braille globe invented in Queensland in the 1950s will be reimagined for a new generation of Queenslanders thanks to the power of a crowd funding initiative by Queensland Library Foundation.

A room full of budding philanthropists joined together with likeminded lovers of culture, heritage and the arts at State Library of Queensland (SLQ) for the Foundation’s annual Crowd Giving event.

Audience members heard passionate pitches for three new SLQ projects and then, under the guidance of respected philanthropists Courtney Talbot and Alison Green, grilled the presenters, debated and discussed, before voting on which idea was most worthy of their collective $10,000 funding kitty.

A project to make known the intriguing story of a rare globe held in the SLQ collection was the winning pitch.

The globe was originally created for vision-impaired children by Queenslander Richard Frank Tunley, known as the ‘Fairy Godfather of Blind Children’, who dedicated his life to improving outcomes for vision-impaired children and adults, producing Braille globes and maps.

The funding will enable State Library to use photogrammetry and 3D printing technologies to create an exact replica of the globe able to be touched as the original was intended to be experienced, accompanied by detailed digital plans and learning notes available for sharing internationally.

Some of the money will also support SLQ preservation staff to conserve the original Tunley globe, which is now quite fragile.

State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald said the Tunley globe is a marvel of Queensland ingenuity, enterprise and skill.

“The Tunley globe is a truly remarkable creation and a unique, perhaps unknown, Queensland story,” Ms McDonald said.

“SLQ is immensely grateful to the donors who have put their money behind making this fascinating piece of Queensland history discoverable and accessible for a new generation of Queenslanders .”

“A donation to Queensland Library Foundation directly supports State Library of Queensland’s’s important and valued work and will help impact the growth of knowledge and innovation in our state,” Ms McDonald said.

To find out more or pledge your support, visit or contact Queensland Library Foundation directly on (07) 3840 7767 or at

The original Tunley globe will be on display in an upcoming SLQ exhibition in the Philip Bacon Heritage Gallery on level 4, opening in December 2017.

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