I mentioned in my last post about enjoying visiting other libraries. One of the reasons is collections, the quirkier the better!
Libraries are often know for their collection specialities. Mental Floss has put together a list of universities libraries whose collections are a bit way out– showgirl memorabilia and Dean Martin are housed at the University of Nevada for example. Yet another reason to visit a library!
The last time I was in Belfast visiting my extended family, I happened upon the Linen Hall Library in the Belfast CBD. It was founded in 1788 and is Ireland’s last surviving subscription library- similar to the Mechanics’ Institutes in Australia. They had an exhibition of theirNorthern Ireland Political Collection, which comprised of 14,000 images, pamphlets, posters, books and audio-visual items. It was fantastic and showed all sides of the conflict.
I have yet to get to Italy, but it will be a little bit closer thanks to Google, who have signed an agreement with the Italian government to digitise over a million antiquarian books from national libraries in Florence and Rome. The works of Dante and Machiavelli and Galileo will be available for free.
Closer to home the State Library of Victoria has a myriad of eclectic collections, including art, treasures, and my favourite, the W. G. Alma Conjuring Collection. I mean, what’s not to like about a collection of magic?
When I was completing my librarianship qualifications, I did a placement at the University of Melbourne, which housed memorabilia from the composer Percy Grainger. Apart from some very unique instruments which he developed, there are some personal artefacts which are quite interesting… The library also houses a romance fiction collection. Sadly my dream of working at the University of Melbourne has never been realised.