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state library of queensland
John Oxley Library



An afternoon in John Oxley Library

By Administrator | 5 October 2016

State Library of Queensland’s John Oxley Library has a wide range of content both contemporary and retrospective chronicling events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape Queensland. Located on level 4, John Oxley Library holds unique Queensland resources including diaries, manuscripts, artworks, photographs, original maps and plans, and oral histories. Information Services Librarian Christina takes us through a busy afternoon in the John Oxley Library and the diverse collections available to visitors in this space.

John Oxley Library. Image by SLQ staff.

John Oxley Library. Image by SLQ staff.

  • The first question was to retrieve the personal papers of World War One medical doctor, Eleanor Elizabeth Bourne. Dr Bourne was the first Queensland woman to study medicine and served as a Lieutenant and later Major, of the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War I. 
  • Another visitor was researching the convict settlement at Moreton Bay, looking at illustrations and drawings. We retrieved art works including images of the convict built windmill on Wickham Terrace.
  • Two visitors arrived to look at the history of a Queensland country school. School and church histories are often the only source of information we have for particular localities. School histories are published in many forms - in thin pamphlets by Parents and Citizens committees, in sturdy bound glossy books, and in digital format. These items often record the memories of early students to celebrate school anniversaries, such as centenaries.
  • Other visitors arrived to ask some questions about our Tindale Genealogical collections, which provide genealogies of Queensland Indigenous families from the 1930s to the 1960s. The Tindale Genealogical Collection is a great resource for researching Aboriginal family history, however it does contain some inaccuracies. Because much of the information is private or sensitive, there are restrictions on who can access the full family tree information and photographs.
  • The next question came from a visitor who had been referred from SLQ’s Business Studio with complex questions regarding Queensland Industrial Gazettes. The gazettes provide a summary of all of the amendments to Queensland industrial legislation, and used to be published in bound book form before going online.
  • Another visitor wanted to research the history of a house in Bardon. We receive many requests to undertake the history of older homes. Estate maps can tell when the land was issued for sale. Many are very colourful and interesting, some promising tea and cakes and brass bands for entertainment while the auctioneer sold the land to eager bidders. The visitor asked if we had any photographs of Bardon. Photographs were ordered from the storage repository, as well as newspaper clippings for the suburb, but the most useful tool for house histories is undoubtedly the Queensland Post Office Directories. Post office directories list the names of the residents of each Brisbane street. Following up names on the older electoral rolls helped us to be sure that we had the correct residents. I also checked Brisbane City Council Survey Plans from the 1920s and 1930s to help come to a conclusion about the date of the client’s house.

  • Not all visitors to the John Oxley Library use the collections. Part of the space is dedicate for quiet individual study.

John Oxley Library is open from 10am to 5pm daily. At the end of my day, all that remained to be done was to ensure that all the collection items were safely stored, ready to be returned to our storage repositories, to preserve Queensland’s documentary heritage for future visitors.

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Christina Ealing-Godbold

Senior Librarian, Information Services


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