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‘A mob of light readers’: Holdings, Genre Proportions, and Modes of Reading

  • Lara Atkin
  • Sarah Comyn
  • Porscha Fermanis
  • Nathan Garvey
Open Access
Chapter
Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)

Abstract

This chapter examines the genre proportions of public library collections in the southern colonies, arguing that they both reflect and are a response to debates about the ‘fiction problem’, modes of reading, local colonial conditions, and the utility of public libraries. Along with its analysis of changing genre proportions, the chapter also explores the symbolic and educational power of the library catalogue in facilitating the public library’s role as a national institution and as a means of fostering transnational intellectual and print networks.

Keywords

Light reading The ‘fiction problem’ Library holdings Bequests Catalogues 
Following a debate about the wisdom of introducing a new (third) class of subscribers to the SAPL at its committee’s 1848 annual meeting, the Attorney General, William Porter, made a gendered comparison between a taste for the latest literature and the pursuit of fashion:

as to the right of first perusal, there are some gentlemen—not the wisest, perhaps—who look with as much contempt on last year’s book, as some ladies—not, perhaps, the wisest either—do on last year’s bonnet.1

Although the committee members were committed to providing that ‘first blessing of life—home education’ , they were not ignorant of the pecuniary benefits attached to the provision of fashionable literature.2 Porter’s jesting point was that first- and second-class subscribers would be willing to pay more to have priority access to the newest additions to the library. In a characterisation reminiscent of ‘Lavinia Readmuch’ of Chap.  3, Porter portrays the pursuit of novelty in reading as not only unwise, but also as analogous to the faddish behaviour of women: books are read and discarded with as little considered interest as the latest fashion accessories. A year later his fellow committee member, Reverend Newman, used stronger terms to warn against reading the ‘fashionable novel’, describing them as ‘unworthy [of] the mature mind’ and encouraging ‘a dissatisfaction of ordinary, every-day life, with which most of us have to do’. Arguing that such fiction was, at best, a distraction for young men that led them to ‘lay aside all studious and useful and refined reading’ and, at worst, a practice that could ‘diffuse atheism, anarchic violence, contempt for ... decency and order’, Newman suggested that fiction holdings should be severely curtailed.3

Although—or perhaps because—it provided free access to its reference-only collections, the MPL similarly looked upon fashionable works of ‘purely ephemeral description and of transient value’ with disdain and ‘set [them] aside for those which commend[ed] themselves for their substantial merit and sterling value’.4 This tension between ephemeral works and those of ‘permanent merit’ dominated debates about the libraries’ collections, the proportions of various genres contained therein, and the purpose they served in the southern colonies. Central to the fixation on the proportion of fiction relative to other genres was a belief that libraries could be used for the moral improvement of society. Lewis C. Roberts notes, in the British context, that following the 1849 Select Committee on Public Libraries a shift occurred from the ‘“softening and expanding influences” of reading to the “instrumentality of well-chosen books”’. Library committees’ careful selection of fictional works was therefore part of a process not only of educating library users but of disciplining readers (see Chap.  3), particularly the working classes for whom ‘fiction remained the only kind of text they could, and would ever want, to read’.5

While the period of our study is characterised by a general concern about novel reading across Europe and North America, this chapter demonstrates how libraries in the southern colonies both addressed and participated in these debates, and used the content of their collections to respond to local conditions, thereby establishing and defending their purpose as ‘national’ institutions. During a ‘Special General meeting of the Proprietors’ of the ASL convened by the Presbyterian cleric John Dunmore Lang in 1844, the latter denounced the library’s holdings as consisting of the ‘merest trash—novels and romances, exceeding in proportion works of useful and sterling merit, to a greater extent than he recollected ever to have witnessed in any such an institution’, and questioned how the collection would ‘evoke the intellect [or] raise the character of the colony’. In a pre-planned response, the library committee defended the quality of the library and pointed to the broad range of the collection, which was reported to contain ‘upwards of two thousand works on biography and history, an ample supply of works on geography, on all the sciences, also of classics, and of English standard works of every description’. In support of the number of novels contained in the library, the Congregational minister and ASL committee member Robert Ross argued that while he, himself, ‘did not advocate this description of reading’, he thought the proportion of novels was ‘not at all too large’ for an institution ‘which had for its object the convenience of members’.6

Reverend James Adamson, leader of the St. Andrew’s Scottish Church in Cape Town, adopted a similar tone in defence of novels during the 1848 annual meeting of subscribers at the SAPL. While acknowledging that it is ‘our duty to increase, as it is in our power, the number of works of learning and science’, he also noted that ‘I am not against the introduction of the lighter literature of the age, called novels’.7 Advocate William Musgrave, also of the SAPL Committee, had already argued in 1841 that it is not ‘everyone who reads merely for the sake of being edified’, necessitating that ‘an Institution of this description’ unite ‘instruction with the recreation of the mind’. Celebrating the ‘mixed character’ of the works in the SAPL collection, Musgrave concluded that ‘while they form so delightful a resource to us in our leisure hours, [they] never fail to mingle with their enchantment something like a moral lesson to the reader’.8

Ross , Musgrave, and Adamson’s qualified support of the number of novels contained in the ASL and SAPL points to an ongoing anxiety about whether the genre proportions of their collections reflected the purpose—actual or ideal—of the library as a public institution. The potential conflicts between a library’s purpose and the content and use of its collections were not, of course, confined to the libraries of the southern colonies. While James Hole, author of the 1853 An Essay on the History and Management of Literary, Scientific, & Mechanics’ Institutions, argued that the total ‘exclusion [of fiction] appears to us indefensible’, he lamented the ‘disproportion’ of fiction collections and complained that despite the careful selection of books at the Leeds Institute ‘the fiction and periodical literature is much more than half the circulation!’.9 Martin Lyons notes that ‘popular practices’ in France similarly ‘failed to conform to the norms of librarians. In the 1880s and 1890s, more than half the borrowings from Parisian municipal libraries was of novels’.10

Christine Pawley’s study of libraries in nineteenth-century North America usefully identifies three categories of response to the ‘fiction problem’: the ‘small minority call[ing] for total abstinence’, the reluctant tolerators, and finally those who promoted the reading of fiction because ‘any reading … was better than none at all, especially if it encouraged people to progress up the literary ladder’.11 Pawley’s metaphor of a ‘literary ladder’ up which readers could possibly ascend, beginning with novels as the first wrung, echoes a stadial theory of reading present in discussions surrounding the genre proportions of colonial public libraries. Lamenting the ‘great mischief’ done by certain types of novels—‘Oliver Twist and Jack Shepherd’ and ‘the sentimentality of Rousseau’, for example—during his 1857 address, the Anglican Bishop and educator Canon White identifies three types of reading of which the ‘lowest style’ is reading for ‘horror and laughter’. Readers of this style need to be encouraged to ‘absorb’ a different ‘literary nutriment’ that is ‘high and noble and pure in life and character’. In contrast to the ‘habit of reading satirical and ludicrous works alone’, White argues that readers of poetry—and the occasional Walter Scott novel—are seekers of beauty and represent a ‘second class of readers’. The ‘attainment of truth’ is identified by White as the third and highest class of reading, to which all should aspire, and includes the genres of science, history, and philosophy.12

Crucially, in his account of ‘reading for beauty’, White argues that poetry needs to be all the more celebrated because the ‘other arts’ of a similar class, such as ‘music, painting, architecture’, are not sufficiently developed in the colony to encourage the improvement of the mind:

instead of lamenting over the absence of what we have not, the public mind of a colony ought to be more carefully directed to poetry, which it can possess in perfection, because it lacks a full measure of kindred arts, which, in other lands, help in their measure to train and develop similar faculties of the soul.13

White’s recognition of the local conditions that must of necessity shape the colony’s library collection was shared by the SL’s management committee, who explicitly focused their attention on collecting light fiction: ‘since the general object of the majority of subscribers in seeking the Library will be to procure a pleasant relaxation from their business, care will be taken that the contents of a large division of the shelves shall serve for light reading’.14 In a mercantile environment such as Singapore, entertainment was viewed as an important function of the library. As Brendan Luyt has argued, ‘boredom was a constant fact of life for colonialists’ and reading, even of light fiction, was seen as providing relief and occupation.15

The genre proportions of the SL’s 1860 catalogue reflect the acceptance of ‘light reading’ as a means of meeting the needs of the community, with ‘Imaginative Literature’ making up 44% of the collection (Appendix C, Table C.1). ‘Biography and History’ is the next highest represented category at 31%. The SL was not alone in recognising the ameliorative potential of fiction, drama, and poetry. Between 1860 and 1862, the SAI’s holdings contained 37% ‘Imaginative Literature’, and while the SAPL held less ‘Imaginative Literature’ comparatively with 17%, it is still the third highest category in its collection (Appendix C, Tables C.2 and C.3). It is perhaps not so surprising, then, that in the same year Canon White was warning against the negative effects of novel reading in the Cape Colony, the Attorney General of South Australia, Richard Hanson, provided an emphatic defence of the novel at the first public meeting of the SAI, arguing that ‘novel reading is on the whole of a beneficial tendency’ and that ‘as a source of pleasure merely, apart from the lessons it may impart and the tendencies it may foster, literature is well worthy of our encouragement’. Emphasising the potential of the novel to play a positive role in political change, he pointed to the example of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), which he believed had provided the ‘most eloquent and effectual appeal against the atrocities of negro slavery in the United States’.16

The MPL, in contrast, actively resisted the trend of accepting ‘lighter’ literature onto its shelves as unworthy of its status as a ‘national institution’. But while the MPL prided itself on being the standard-bearer of a public library in the southern colonies, its adherence to the reference library model received criticism from other colonies for not addressing local needs and desires. An article in the Tasmanian Times in 1868 discussing the need for a public library in Hobart explicitly rejected the MPL model. The rationale for this rejection was not only because the Times viewed a freely circulating library as a truly public model, but also because it argued that the MPL did not address the need for rational recreation and family reading: ‘Such a library is not in any demand here. We can get on very well in the meantime without such a resort for novel-readers, idle apprentices, “discarded tapsters and unjust servingmen” as the Melbourne Public Library is well known to be’. The writer instead argues that the people of Hobart prefer to read in family or domestic settings such as ‘their firesides and would be rarely indeed found in the Town Hall’. Concluding that ‘what is urgently wanted, is a good library from which people can get for themselves and for their families an abundant supply of attractive and wholesome literature’, the writer proposes a combination of a circulation and a reference library, arguing that ‘a grand library for consultation is out of the question here’.17

If these kinds of arguments coincided with the rise of reading as a leisure activity for both the literate middle and working classes, as well as pointing to an acknowledgment of the particular need for wholesome leisure in the colonies—a need repeated in the debates surrounding all of our colonial libraries—they are also suggestive of the specificity of each colony’s response to that need according to local conditions. While a vague blueprint for ‘public-library-making’ seemed to exist, the most important element for success was adaptability.18 Examining the libraries’ collections provides an opportunity to identify the local conditions that shaped the libraries’ collections, the inventive ways libraries chose to respond to these demands, and the commonalities and distinctiveness of their experiences in developing and maintaining their status as public and national institutions.

Public Funding v. User-Pays Subscription Models

The SAPL’s conversion from a public to a subscription library, following the withdrawal of public funding in 1829, is detectable in the genre proportions of the library’s holdings. Between 1825 and 1829, the proportion of ‘Imaginative Literature’ dropped from 11% to 4% while the proportion of ‘Science’ rose from 6% to 21% (Appendix C, Table C.3). A supplementary catalogue from 1826 illustrates this growth in the ‘Science’ category and demonstrates the SAPL’s dedication to forming a prestige scientific reference collection with 146 scientific titles added to the collection.19 After 1829 and the introduction of a subscription fee, there was a steady rise in ‘Imaginative Literature’ accompanied by a reduction in the proportions of ‘Science’, and of ‘Political Economy, Politics, and Jurisprudence’. By 1862 the best represented categories are ‘Biography and History’ (29%), ‘Geography, Voyages, and Travel’ (18%), and ‘Imaginative Literature’ (17%) (Appendix C, Table C.3).

Despite its change in funding and priorities, the SAPL remained committed to the continued status of its reference collection, realising that as an institution of knowledge it had an important role to play in the Cape Colony’s efforts to achieve a representative government. Attaining a representative assembly required, according to Attorney General Porter, the ‘young men of the Colony’ to be educated, to ‘meditate upon the principles of public business’, and to ‘store [their minds] with political knowledge’.20 While fiction could be tolerated to meet the desires of subscribers, it could not be allowed to overshadow the rest of the collection. In response, the library developed innovative ways to manage the demand for fiction from its subscribers, as shall be seen in the discussion of the circulating library below.

The SAPL was, however, an unusual case. In the southern colonies, it was more common for public libraries to succeed subscription libraries. This was the case in Singapore with the transformation from the SL, a proprietary subscription library, to the RLM in 1874. The RLM was divided into three sections: a reference section open to the public; a lending section, with borrowing available only to subscribers (with various classes of subscription rights); and a free reading room available to all users.21 The move to partial public funding saw a reduction in the proportion of ‘Imaginative Literature’ from 36% in 1863 to 28% in 1877 (Appendix C, Table C.1), but Robert Little, Chairman of the RLM management committee, continued to advocate for the benefits of entertaining reading. Addressing the Legislative Council in 1874, Little argued that the public library would benefit ‘native’ education and protect European youth against the dangers of the ‘gaming table’, providing ‘one “of the greatest safeguards we could find for the young people of the Settlement”’. Responding to criticism of ‘spending public funds in the purchase of novels for young ladies to read’, Little noted that as the ‘Premier himself was a writer of novels it would not be becoming to say anything against novel reading’.22 Dr Little did concede, however, that the ‘reference library was intended for a higher class than would use the lending one’, reflecting the class-inflected discourses discussed in the previous chapter.23 The division between the public and subscription sections of the library would overshadow discussions of the RLM’s perceived purpose and value throughout its early history.

The mixed function of the SAI, as both mechanics’ institute and subscription library, meant that the library was dogged by discussions about whether it was a public or a private institution, and how effectively the library served either purpose. During its existence as the SALMI (1848–1856) the library was unique in receiving some government aid towards buying books. Significant tension was, however, created between the mechanics’ institute and the library, with many letters to the editor complaining that the mechanics’ institute had lost its original purpose through its amalgamation with the library, and that funds that should have been dedicated to classes and lectures for the working classes were diverted to books for the library: ‘The energy of the working men has been paralysed by the inertia of the Library drones’.24 The criticisms levelled against the collection for being ‘a mere reading club and lending library of many trashy novels, in fact a cheap substitute for, and rival to, Mr. Platt’s shop’ is the result of a dramatic rise in the proportion of imaginative literature.25 Between 1848 and 1851, ‘Imaginative Literature’ increased from 16% to 36% of the collection, a significant rise that effected a proportionate decrease in all other genres, the most significant being a drop from 15% to 8% in ‘Science’ (Appendix C, Table C.2). Given the commitment of the mechanics’ institute to ‘train the youth of the colony’, it is not surprising that they responded with dismay to the substitution of literature for science.26

Upon becoming part of the SAI in 1856, the library offered a similar mix of public/private funding and access to that of the RLM. Although the proportion of ‘Imaginative Literature’ saw a slight increase from 36% in 1851 to 37% in 1861, it had dropped to 27% by 1869, whereas all other categories increased or remained stable (Appendix C, Table C.2). Books could only be borrowed on payment of a membership fee and, as with the RLM, this concomitant public/private funding was to dominate debates about the library’s purpose and its circulation figures. It also explains the persistence of ‘Imaginative Literature’ at such a high proportion of the collection. As Priya Joshi has argued in the context of nineteenth-century public libraries in India, ‘the persistence of the fiction holdings … as evidenced in their reports and catalogues makes clear’ that the institutions were not easily able ‘to change matters: readers, it seemed, exercised a considerable voice over what they wanted to read, and the libraries were more or less forced to oblige or to risk losing members’.27

As the controversy ignited by J. D. Lang at the ASL indicates, ‘Imaginative Literature’ formed a significant proportion of the ASL’s genre proportions, reaching its highest points at 30% in the 1843 catalogue and 33% in the 1845 supplementary catalogue, after which it saw a decrease before again dominating the collection in 1853 at 28% (the second largest category being ‘Biography and History’ at 21%) (Appendix C, Table C.4). The impact of the transferal of the ASL collection to the FPL in 1869 is clear in the heavily annotated and marked-up List of the Books in the Free Public Library (1869), which demonstrates the extent to which novels were expunged from the collection.28 During his address at the opening of the FPL in 1869, Somerset Richard Lowry-Corry, the Earl of Belmore and Governor of New South Wales, alluded to the fact that objectionable books—primarily fiction—were being removed from the collection: ‘it is the intention of the Government to remove from the institution such books as it may be undesirable to retain in a free library and to purchase at once in the colony additional works of a suitable kind’.29 Later catalogues of the FPL show that only a select number of the works of approved novelists were retained in the collection, and these works of prose fiction were not available for borrowing.30

The TPL’s imaginative literature holdings in the 1850s reflect the elitist nature of the library in its earliest incarnation as a subscription library that was ‘unashamedly middle class with upper class pretensions’.31 The purchase of Colonial Secretary James Ebenezer Bicheno’s collection of 2500 books for the special price of £300 following his death in 1851 had a significant impact on genre proportions and reflects the Trustees’ desire to establish a serious collection at the TPL from its foundation.32 The proportions of ‘Imaginative Literature’ are significantly lower than for the ASL, for example, 12% in 1852 with a slight increase to 16% in 1855. While the TPL may have resisted the demand for imaginative literature in the 1850s, its collection reflects the popularity of another genre of the period: ‘Geography, Voyages, and Travel’ saw the largest increase from 12% (1852) to 22% (1855), whereas ‘Biography and History’ declined from 28% to 21%. ‘Science’ remained the same at 13% (Appendix C, Table C.5).

The fact that the MPL was publicly and generously funded with an initial building grant of £10,000 plus £3000 for books sets it apart from those libraries that had their origins as subscription libraries.33 Between 1853 and 1861, the MPL spent £25,785 on purchasing books and by 1869 had spent £47,535 of the very substantial £53,750 voted by parliament towards its book fund.34 The 1861 catalogue explicitly ties the government’s endorsement to the prestige and purpose of the collection, stating that Governor La Trobe was ‘fully impressed with the importance of the influence likely to arise from voluntary adult mental improvement, as well as of the intellectual and moral elevation to be created by a cultivation of the works of standard authors’.35 In his first order to the colonial agent Edward Barnard, Redmond Barry specified that the books chosen for the MPL needed to be ‘the best Editions’, defined as ‘the latest, most carefully edited, collated and illustrated by notes or otherwise, not such as recommend themselves solely by being gaudily bound’. Barry further specified that ‘works of ephemeral character be avoided unless especially named’.36 Barry’s instructions to Barnard are explicitly tied to his understanding of the MPL as not only a library open and free to the public, but also as an institution contributing to the status of the colony of Victoria. This view of the MPL as both a national institution and an international emissary for the colony as a whole is equally evident in the Trustees’ Report of 1870–1871, which includes a comparison of the volumes of the MPL’s holdings, access hours and conditions, and number of visitors with free libraries in Britain, North America, France, Germany, and Italy.37

The 1854 catalogue for the first consignment of books sent by the MPL’s London supplier, J. J. Guillaume, is indicative of Barry’s ambition to cultivate ‘intellectual and moral elevation’ by stocking ‘works by standard authors’.38 Non-fiction titles occupy most of the collection with the (original MPL) categories of science, history, and philosophy well represented, and a significant presence of periodicals (608 volumes in total). While poetry forms a considerable part of the MPL’s literature category, few novels are listed, and all are by men. Very few women writers appear in this catalogue and their contribution is limited to memoirs of royalty and a translated history by Sarah Austin.39 Unlike public libraries that retained the user-pays model where romances by female writers were in great demand—and not just by women—the MPL could afford to take a hard line against the imaginative literature it viewed as undesirable. Whereas the SL’s best-represented imaginative writers in 1863 included women writers such as Catherine Gore (12 titles), Frances Trollope (10 titles), and Margaret Oliphant (8 titles),40 the MPL’s 1861 catalogue shows it confined its interest in imaginative writing by women to more instructive and edifying authors such as Charlotte Brontë (4 titles) and Maria Edgeworth (2 titles).41 By contrast the MPL listed 17 titles by the female art historian Anna Jameson.

‘Biography and History’ dominate the 1861 MPL catalogue, forming 31% of the collection (Appendix C, Table C.6). Although comparatively less than the ‘Biography and History’ holdings, scientific works still form a sizeable portion at 12% of the collection. The collection of classical works in Greek and Latin and its wide-ranging selection of works in modern languages—such as Dutch, French, Italian, German, Hungarian, and Russian—demonstrates the MPL’s commitment to selecting prestige texts and authors. Donations received from foreign governments in the 1860s—for example, from the government of the Netherlands—further contributed to the MPL’s relatively strong collection of foreign-language titles.42 The MPL’s impressive collection of foreign-language Bibles was the result of a significant donation by the British and Foreign Bible Society.43 Belles lettres and critical works formed a substantial part of the library’s literature category. When critical works are excluded, however, ‘Imaginative Literature’ forms a significantly smaller portion of the MPL’s collection in comparison to the other colonial libraries already examined at only 5%, demonstrating that between 1854 and 1861, during which time the MPL grew its collection from 3846 to 26,723 volumes, the Trustees remained steadfast in their commitment to ‘standard authors’ (Appendix C, Table C.6).44

Responding to Demands for Circulation

While the MPL did not operate a circulating library until 1890, it did offer a ‘travelling libraries’ scheme from 1860, sending cases of books to other libraries (mainly mechanics’ institutes) within a ten-mile radius of Melbourne.45 Responding to what the Melbourne Herald called the ‘reproach of “centralisation”’ directed at the MPL by country and provincial institutions, the Trustees’ Report of 1870–1871 shows that the scheme was not immune to the demands for fiction and belles lettres, with ‘British Literature’ making up 28% of the volumes circulated as opposed to 14% for ‘Geography and Travels’, and 13% for ‘British History’, the second and third highest categories respectively.46 The SAI also adopted a scheme of lending books to affiliated mechanics’ institutes, with 54 country institutes affiliated by 1869. This scheme continued until the 1890s, and by 1895 there were 154 participating institutes with 199 boxes of books and 6545 books in circulation.47

The challenge posed by the demand for fiction was naturally more deeply felt by those libraries dependent on subscriptions for funding. Responding to the criticism in 1861 that the SAI contained too many novels for a public library, the South Australian Chief Justice, Sir Charles Cooper, agreed but argued that if novels ‘are fit to be read they must form a part of every public library on a considerable scale’.48 Although we have no borrowing statistics according to genre for the SAI, anecdotal evidence from the annual reports points to the popularity of novels, with a Mr. Barnard claiming that the ‘simplest and readiest way of ascertaining what works were read was by noticing that state of the covers of the book’. Assessing the material condition of the books, Barnard could confidently state that ‘the more popular books—not the works of Dickens and Thackeray only—but those of Macaulay, give evidence of frequent perusal’.49 Like the Tasmanian commentator who saw the need for public libraries to allow lending so that families could read together in domestic settings, commentators in South Australia agreed that the circulating library both contributed funds to the institute and ‘encourag[ed] family reading’, but that the disadvantages, including the permanent damage to books, ‘may render it necessary to discontinue the circulating system’.50 The frustration with the effect the circulating library was having on the SAI’s role as a public and reference institution persisted until the SAI was replaced by the Public Library, Museum and Gallery in 1884, whereupon the subscription library was finally separated to become the Adelaide Circulating Library.

The long-serving SAPL librarian Alexander Jardine responded to the threat he saw subscriber demands posing to the composition and status of the library collection by developing an annotated catalogue of instruction. The 1842 SAPL catalogue contains detailed bibliographic commentary through which Jardine directs readers to what he viewed as the most authoritative texts in each of the library’s 44 subject classes. In the footnotes accompanying the ‘Imaginative works’ class, Jardine cites a range of eminent scientific and literary sources including Francis Bacon, Thomas Gray, and William Cowper. While allowing that ‘the severer judgment of [Samuel] Johnson was unwilling to abandon the pleasant aid of romance as part of education’, Jardine advises that ‘these authorities should not be used to encourage a passion of continuous novel reading. A walk in the garden is both pleasant and salutary; but it is not desirable to live in it’. Jardine concludes his warning against novels with a quote from Southey: ‘Of novels as they swarm from the modern press, I have no hesitation in saying, that many are poisonous and few are of any use’.51

Despite Jardine’s efforts to protect the SAPL’s reputation as a serious research institution from the dangers of novel reading, the anxiety evident in Canon White’s 1857 address points to the persistence of subscribers’ demands for fiction. White’s criticism of novel readers was due, in part, to the significant portion of novels being borrowed in comparison with history and the sciences. White’s breakdown of borrowings ranked from highest to lowest is as follows: ‘Novels’ 55%; ‘Voyages and Travels’ 16%; ‘Biography’ 8%; ‘Miscellaneous’ 8%; ‘History’ 7%; ‘Arts and Sciences’ 3%; ‘Politics, Law and Economics’ 3%; and ‘Poetry’ 1%.52 Luyt’s analysis of the acquisition and borrowing records of the RLM similarly shows that fiction continued to form an important part of its collection despite its being partially publicly funded. For example, 34% of the acquisitions for 1886 were works of fiction and the circulation figures point to an increasing demand for fiction from 70% of the circulation in 1881 to 87% in 1905.53 While Jardine’s advisory annotations did not curb the enthusiasm for fiction, his strategy of using the library catalogue to educate its users and cultivate ‘correct’ literary taste anticipated the strategies of librarians in Britain. Antonio Panizzi employed a similar method in his British Museum: A Short Guide to that Portion of the Library of Printed Books Now Open to the Public (1851).54

Cultivating Taste and Modes of Reading

The perception of library committees that public libraries were educators and taste-makers within their colonies is evident in their repeated use of the metaphor of cultivation. When discussing the reading habits of the SAI patrons, Justice Cooper reminded his audience that ‘various plants require various modes of cultivation, and that a taste for reading is a plant of delicate growth, which will not admit of being forced’.55 Even Canon White, who was generally dismissive of the novel’s potential benefits, turned to the trope of cultivation in his address to the SAPL, admitting that ‘it is a narrow and unwholesome view of the use of literature, which condemns the use of that wonderful faculty, imagination … I believe that the imagination requires to be cultivated as the other faculties do, in order to preserve the proper harmony of man’s inner nature; and like them it must be guided and regulated’.56 The MPL, too, described its role in these terms. The 1870–1871 Trustees’ Report introduces a comparison of the MPL’s ‘literary resources’ to those of other colonies with a call for their ‘fellow-countrymen’ to ‘recognize the truths enforced by the history of the ages that the greatest dangers to freedom arise from the prevalence of ignorance and vice, and that provision must be made for the cultivation and expansion of the public mind, according as it becomes charged with the exercise of political privileges’.57

The report’s reference to ‘political privileges’ points to the colony of Victoria’s significant achievement of responsible government in 1854, but also has clear parallels with the earlier arguments made at the SAPL that public libraries had an important role to play in educating members of the colonies in how to responsibly participate in civic and political life (see Chap.  2). The SAI’s governing committee evidently shared this sentiment. In an address to mark the publication of the library’s 1861 catalogue, Sir Charles Cooper reiterated the connection between political privileges, responsibility, and the importance of the library as provider of knowledge, noting that whereas in England ‘a man born in poverty must climb a weary height before he reaches the gate of entrance to political life’, in South Australia ‘every man of ordinary energy on attaining his full manhood has privileges’ that it is his ‘duty to exercise’, stressing the need for ‘sound knowledge’ in carrying out these political duties.58

Cognisant of the social, cultural, and political significance of their roles in the colonies, these libraries aimed not only to cultivate a taste for particular types of content, but also to develop particular modes of reading. Anxious about ‘surface’ readers who read only what was fashionable and who were attracted by the covers of books rather than their content, the MPL Trustees repeatedly attacked books of ‘a purely ephemeral description and of transient value’, setting them ‘aside’ for those of permanent merit. The MPL instead defined and defended the character of its collection by pointing to the relative absence of ‘works usually classed as works of fiction and of the imagination, and those which in some catalogues are entered under the head of “literature for juveniles”’.59 Such was Redmond Barry’s disdain for novels that he is reported as having celebrated the theft of them from the MPL.60

While the MPL was the most vociferous in its condemnation of the ‘ephemera’ that would never encourage serious reading, surface reading was a concern shared by all the libraries and accompanied the push for collections that reflected their status as ‘permanent’ institutions. The Straits Times criticised the SL, for example, because the collection was ‘designed for present reading, and consequently partaking more of the light character as novels, magazines, reviews and other ephemeral emanations from the press: works of a purely scientific character are not comprised in the monthly instalments of new publications received overland’. The result was that there was no nucleus of books for ‘literary and scientific souls’ and that residents were left to their ‘own researches to acquire a knowledge of the phenomena, statistics, and history of our own immediate locality’.61

Debates about the ephemeral versus permanent qualities of collections were therefore related to the types of reading they were seen to encourage: surface/light reading versus that of depth/serious reading. The perception that colonial societies had few ‘serious’ readers was widespread in the early- to mid-nineteenth century.62 A short poem by Frederick Brooks in South African Grins for 1825 noted that: ‘Reading in short is no great passion / Indeed ‘tis not at all the fashion’.63 Brooks’s sense that the literary tastes of the colonial reading public were not developed enough to appreciate the best writers is echoed by other commentators. When the English poet R. H. Horne, residing in Melbourne from 1853 to 1869, wrote to the editor of the Melbourne Age in 1856 recommending a number of books for purchase by the MPL, he also noted that ‘my literary friends in England—philosophers, classicists, novelists, dramatists, and lyric poets, must forgive my silence in respect to them. They need no audience here; neither is the audience they want at present to be found sufficiently numerous to make it worthwhile to venture the introduction’.64 The Age similarly noted in 1856 that ‘it must be admitted that the habits of the colonists in general are the reverse of studious; the circumstances of society here tend rather to destroy than foster the taste for intellectual pursuits’.65

Notwithstanding its prevalence, this view of Melbourne’s literary culture in the mid-nineteenth century was largely misplaced: literacy rates among white settlers both in Melbourne and across the southern hemisphere were relatively high, and the demand for reading material was voracious, with Sydney and Melbourne importing one third of all British book exports in 1854 and nearly half by the 1880s. At the same time, however, there was a growing sense across all the southern colonies that recreational material in public libraries had to be balanced by access to serious reference collections, both to prevent their supposed inundation by loungers and loafers, and to mitigate against the perceived anti-intellectualism of colonial society.66

The tensions between fashionable or light literature and serious reading evolved into debates about the value of new, modern texts as opposed to ‘dated’, standard works. The libraries’ approaches to the question of newness versus datedness differ according to their origins, time, and place. Given the SL’s status as a subscription library committed to the entertainment of its subscribers, it is unsurprising that it had a policy emphasising the ‘newness’ of books purchased, requiring any order of ‘standard’ works of fiction to be ‘authorised by the Committee of Management’ whereas the purchase of the most recent works of fiction was allowed at the agent’s discretion.67 The SL also framed the access granted to different classes according to the ‘newness’ of works, with the 1847 library bye-laws stating that Class 4 subscribers could not borrow any book or periodical that had been in the library for less than three months.68 The SL eventually sourced their material from Mudie’s remainders, which meant they had a steady supply of recent fiction and also explains the high percentage of women novelists, noted above, in their collections. The ordering policy stressing novelty is evident in the popularity of contemporary authors (according to numbers of titles held).69 Unsurprisingly, Walter Scott tops the 1863 catalogue list of imaginative writers with 48 titles, but he is closely followed by G. P. R. James (33 titles), William Hazlitt (21 titles), and Edward Bulwer-Lytton (20 titles).70

The ASL employed a similar strategy with its London agent J. M. Richardson. In 1847, directions were sent to Richardson specifying standing orders for the works of Dickens, Bulwer-Lytton, Trollope, Disraeli, Warren, Lever, and Maxwell to be sent as published. As early as 1829, the ASL Committee was attentive to the need for contemporary fiction but with a qualifying condition, specifying in a letter to its colonial agent, Barnard, that he should purchase ‘any other recent Novels which may have been reviewed and Approved by the Writers of the Edinburgh or Quarterly Review’.71 The SALMI’s catalogues similarly reveal their commitment to obtaining and advertising their collection of popular novelists. The 1848 catalogue records these best-collected novelists and their latest works under sub-headings of the author’s name, such as ‘Bulwer’s Works’, and includes Scott (26 titles); Bulwer-Lytton (12 titles); G. P. R. James (12 titles); and Dickens (11 titles).72 The novelists with the most titles in the 1851 catalogue include William Harrison Ainsworth (11), Fredrika Bremer (9), Bulwer-Lytton (17), James Fenimore Cooper (34), Daniel Defoe (10), Charles Dickens (11), Benjamin Disraeli (7), Maria Edgeworth (8), Catherine Gore (46), G. P. R. James (46), Charles James Lever (9), Frederick Marryat (23), Walter Scott (26, plus 21 duplicates), William Makepeace Thackeray (8), and Frances Trollope (27).73

Many of these novelists are also featured in the SAPL catalogues of the 1840s. The best-represented novelists in the 1842 catalogue include Scott (32 titles), Marryat (19 titles), Edgeworth (17 titles), and G. P. R. James (12 titles).74 The 1846 catalogue lists works of amusement only by title, except where the authors are well known. The inclusion of names of authors—such as Cooper, Gore, Marryat, and Trollope—alongside their works is suggestive of the popularity of these novelists.75 The SAPL’s interactions with their suppliers further emphasises the importance of their collection staying current. Like the ASL, J. M. Richardson was the supplier for the SAPL, but the committee frequently records their frustration with him for not supplying new books quickly enough. In 1849 the committee notes a decision to appoint a new agent and bookseller because the library is ‘not being promptly supplied with the best and newest publications’.76 Their next appointment as agent, Edward William Brayley, librarian of the London Institution, was similarly dismissed in 1850 because of the delayed arrival of publications. The SAPL’s final decision to appoint the publishing and distribution house of Smith, Elder & Co. as their suppliers shows the need for the prompt and steady supply of new purchases. The committee noted that Smith, Elder & Co. has ‘constant communications with India’ and are therefore ‘aware of the departure from London of all vessels bound for the East, by which supplies of books may be continually forwarded’.77 Smith, Elder & Co. were also, for a time, agents for the SL and the SALMI, suggesting their importance as distributors in Southeast Asia and the southern colonies.

The Symbolic Power of the Colonial Library Catalogue

As well as being guides to the library shelves, it is important not to underestimate the role of the catalogue in establishing the status and title of a public library, and conversely, of unwittingly reflecting the deficiencies and downturns in the fortunes of the institutions. The printed ASL catalogues of the early period of the library’s existence, for example, were rudimentary lists, haphazardly arranging works by author or title. After the downturn in the library’s financial fortunes in the 1840s, only three partial catalogues would appear in the last twenty years of its existence. A letter to the editor in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1869 noted that ‘Sydney is destitute of anything deserving the name of a public library. A mass of novels in the one case, and a mass of books without a published catalogue in the other, I should blush to call a public library’. The same contributor pointed out that the catalogue of a public library should itself ‘be a creditable affair, both classified and explanatory. The population is worthy of it’.78 In contrast to the experience of the ASL, the SAPL had eminently scholarly, well-produced catalogues almost from its establishment. As mentioned in Chap. 1, from 1829, Alexander Jardine based his book classification system on that of the French bibliographer J. C. Brunet, whose four-volume Manuel du Libraire was in the library’s collection and was widely regarded to be of ‘decided superiority over every other bibliographic treatise’ of the period.79

These kinds of prestige catalogues contained symbolic and political power that could be used to form important networks of knowledge exchange, enhance and build collections, and develop new systems for organising knowledge. The MPL catalogues of 1861 and 1865 are prime examples of how prestige catalogues could be used to promote the interests of colonial libraries and foster transnational intellectual and print networks. Designed by Edward La Trobe Bateman (who also designed the library’s Queens’ Hall Reading Room), with engravings by Samuel Calvert, and printed by Clarson, Shallard & Co., the first official catalogue issued by the MPL Trustees in 1861 was designed to reflect the prestige of the library’s collection. Over 700 pages long, it lists 26,723 volumes and contains a detailed preface about the history of the library, its rules and regulations, records of the ‘monies voted by Parliament’, a sample bequest form for patrons, and the layout of the library building.80 That the catalogue was viewed as a promotional opportunity for both the library and the colony of Victoria is clear from the £500 allocated towards its creation, and the effort put into its design, which features botanical illustrations, in particular, ‘decorated Initials and Finals’ by Bateman that reflected the ‘flora of the country’, and are the first example of ‘Australian flora being used for decorative motifs’.81 As Brian Hubber has noted, ‘presentation copies were often large paper copies, printed in a combination of red and black, and specially bound in green or red morocco leather inscribed in gilt’, and used to raise the profile of the library.82

The 1861 catalogue was celebrated by the local press, being described as ‘handsomely printed, characteristically ornamented, and sold at the very moderate price of half-a-crown’, thereby supporting a wide circulation. ‘Compiled with unwearying diligence and with singular accuracy’, its form was also praised for its utility and for encouraging a wide range of users, including students who would ‘doubtless find possession’ of the catalogue ‘of much service as with it they can find out without going to the library what books are available in it on any given subject’.83 As this observation suggests, the catalogue could itself support a culture of self-help, as it could direct access to library material on the shelves without library mediation. Panizzi’s rejection of specialist classifications in the 1849 BML catalogue, for example, was part of his object of making scholarship accessible to all.84 The MPL’s adoption of Panizzi’s alphabetical catalogue, with the addition of a classificatory index, was done for similar reasons. Catalogues were thus an important expression of the role of a public library in making ‘information accessible to all’ and ‘knowledge transparent’.85

Praising the structure of the MPL catalogue, the Melbourne Herald noted that the ‘alphabetical list of authors’ was the cataloguing system ‘adopted at all the great libraries in England, from the British Museum and the Bodleian downwards’.86 The SAI was particularly impressed by the classificatory system used by the MPL. The Governor of South Australia used his 1879 address to point out the efficacy of the MPL’s arrangement, which ‘affords facility to the student to acquire substantial information from works bearing on his enquiries, and without interruptions which are likely to arise in the absence of such classification’.87 As early as 1863, the South Australian Weekly Chronicle was arguing in response to the ‘defective’ SAI catalogue that ‘a perfect catalogue must be a double one; first of all books arranged under the names of the authors, and secondly a list of all books classified with reference to the subjects upon which they treat’.88 Although not explicitly named, this arrangement was the one used by the MPL.

The Melbourne Herald recognised that the 1861 MPL catalogue had a ‘political’ value in addition to its ‘biographical’ and ‘literary’ value, arguing that the catalogue provides evidence of the ‘public spirit, the intelligence and the high civilisation of this community. To any foreigner of large scientific or literary attainments, here is ample proof that the colonists of Victoria are something more and better than a keenly money-seeking set of people’. ‘All this’, declared the Herald, a man ‘in London, or Paris, or Rome, may learn from the new catalogue’.89 Even Queen Victoria is reported as ‘particularly admir[ing] the printing and general embellishments of the book, so creditable to the taste and skill of the designers and artisans of Melbourne’.90 The catalogue was, moreover, used as a way of securing donations from other institutions and intellectual societies. During his visit to London in 1865, the MPL librarian, Augustus Tulk, presented the MPL catalogue to the Department of India and to the Society of Antiquaries as a means of celebrating their relationships and securing donations. The Melbourne Leader reported that Tulk had secured a donation of 400 volumes (Society of Antiquaries) with a further 500–600 volumes expected (Department of India). A letter from the secretary of the Society of Antiquaries gives us a sense of how the catalogue was received: ‘I need scarcely assure the trustees that the greatest admiration was expressed at the very sumptuous and artistic embellishments which adorn this really princely work’.91

Records of donations in the 1860s demonstrate the international prestige of the MPL even beyond the Anglophone world, with a list of benefactors including the British government; the Prussian government; the British Museum; the government of the Netherlands; the Emperor of France, Napoleon III; and Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy.92 The Trustees’ Report of 1870–1871 shows how important the cultivation of these relationships could be, as donated works made up almost a fifth of the MPL’s collection.93 Although an extensive collection of donations were presented by foreign governments and consuls, the MPL ensured it also cultivated intercolonial relationships, receiving a number of donations from its colonial neighbours including Tasmania, Queensland, and New Zealand. Government officials and eminent Victorian citizens were not remiss in their philanthropic duties, with figures such as Governors La Trobe and Barkly, the engineer Major-General Charles Pasley, and the scientist Georg von Neumayer giving generously.94 The ASL did not benefit from the same level of attention from public benefactors, but its members did donate books, including their own writings, such as Thomas Mitchell’s donation of his Three Expeditions to the Interior of Eastern Australia (1838). As Heather Gaunt has noted, the TPL actively sought to acquire international publications, and its 1872 Annual Report noted ‘a munificent gift of Books, Maps, Plans, and Charts from her Majesty’s Government’, as well as gifts from the governments of Tasmania, Fiji, New Zealand, and the United States, and from learned societies in England, Ireland, and Mauritius. ‘Such recognitions’ were considered ‘the best proofs which can be adduced of the status which the Library has attained’.95

Sizable donations and bequests, such as the Dessin and Grey donations to the SAPL, and the Bicheno bequest to the TPL, could significantly shape the character and future of a public library’s collection and purpose. William Tyrrell-Glynn describes the Dessinian Collection as an ‘infectious example’ in ‘promoting the concept of a library especially created for the use of the general public free of charge’, which ‘probably gave rise to the idea’ of the SAPL.96 A substantial gift from George Grey in the 1860s significantly augmented the prestige of the SAPL. Grey’s donation—itself partly ‘the united collection of two very eminent wealthy bibliomaniacs’—included 114 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts (many in contemporary bindings), a large number of early printed works and other rare items, and a vast collection of the earliest examples of printing in hitherto oral languages from Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.97 Prestige catalogues provided a means of curating these collections. In 1852, elated by the significant acquisition of the Bicheno bequest, the TPL produced a catalogue which divided its entire collection into the ‘Bicheno collection’ and a ‘Tasmanian Public Library’ collection.98

Whether the catalogues and collections of these emerging public libraries met the rapidly changing needs of their colonies was always a contentious issue, but they do indicate an awareness of the specificity of their responsibilities to the distinctive social, cultural, and political conditions of the southern colonies. The collections, catalogues, and reports discussed in this chapter demonstrate the libraries’ efforts to transform ‘a mob of light readers’—accused of treating books as women treated bonnets—into a community of politically educated and respectable colonists who could, in some instances, eventually achieve and maintain responsible government.99 Catalogues, as the next chapter will show, could also provide new forms of taxonomic knowledge, playing a crucial role in the development of a ‘taxonomic state’ motivated by the belief that knowing and understanding the ‘native mind’ could inform ‘native policy’.100

Footnotes

  1. 1.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1848, 13: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#464.

  2. 2.

    Catalogue, SAPL, 1842, iii: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#269.

  3. 3.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1849, 19, 18: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#465.

  4. 4.

    Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, Museums, and National Gallery of Victoria, with the Reports of the Sectional Committees, for the Year 1870–71 (Melbourne: John Ferres, Government Printer, 1871), 12, accessed August 9, 2018: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/vufind/Record/90063.

  5. 5.

    Lewis C. Roberts, ‘Disciplining and Disinfecting Working-Class Readers in the Victorian Public Library’, Victorian Literature and Culture 26, no. 1 (1998): 105–132 (108, 113).

  6. 6.

    Sydney Morning Herald, February 23, 1844, 2.

  7. 7.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1849, 7: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#465.

  8. 8.

    Proceedings at the 12th Anniversary Meeting of Subscribers to the Public Library, Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, Thursday, 29 April 1841 (Cape Town: s. n., 1841), 5.

  9. 9.

    James Hole, An Essay of the History and Management of Literary, Scientific, & Mechanics’ Institutions (London: Longman, 1853), 27–28.

  10. 10.

    Martin Lyons, ‘New Readers in the Nineteenth Century: Women, Children, Workers’, in A History of Reading in the West, ed. Guglielmo Cavallo and Roger Chartier, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Amherst: University of Michigan, 1997), 313–344 (335).

  11. 11.

    Christine Pawley, ‘Beyond Market Models and Resistance: Organizations as a Middle Layer in the History of Reading’, The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 79, no. 1 (January 2009): 73–93 (84–5).

  12. 12.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1857, 13, 12, 16–18, 24: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#471.

  13. 13.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1857, 24: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#471.

  14. 14.

    Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, August 24, 1843, 2.

  15. 15.

    Brendan Luyt, ‘The Importance of Fiction to the Raffles Library, Singapore, During the Long Nineteenth-Century’, Library & Information History 25, no. 2 (2009): 117–131 (123).

  16. 16.

    South Australian Register (Adelaide), February 3, 1857, 2.

  17. 17.

    Tasmanian Times (Hobart), January 29, 1868, 2.

  18. 18.

    Age (Melbourne), February 20, 1856, 3.

  19. 19.
  20. 20.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1849, 30: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#465.

  21. 21.

    ‘Report of the Committee of the Raffles Library and Museum, for the year ending December 31st 1874’, in Straits Settlements, Annual Reports for the Year 1874 (Singapore: Government Printing Office, 1875), 121.

  22. 22.

    Possibly Julius Vogel, then Premier of New Zealand and later the author of the utopian novel Anno Domini 2000, or, Woman’s Destiny (1889).

  23. 23.

    Straits Observer (Singapore), December 28, 1874, 2.

  24. 24.

    South Australian Register, July 1, 1850, 3.

  25. 25.

    South Australian Register, June 26, 1850, 4.

  26. 26.

    South Australian Register, September 14, 1847, 2.

  27. 27.

    Priya Joshi, In Another County: Colonialism, Culture and the English Novel in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 62.

  28. 28.
  29. 29.

    Protestant Standard (Sydney), October 9, 1869, 3.

  30. 30.

    See, for example, Catalogue of the Free Public Library, Sydney (Sydney: Government Printer, 1872). For the holdings of the FPL’s reference and lending libraries, see Sydney Morning Herald, May 22, 1878, 3.

  31. 31.

    Heather Gaunt, ‘Identity and Nation in the Australian Public Library: The Development of Local and National Collections 1850s–1940s, Using the Tasmanian Public Library as Case Study’ (PhD diss., University of Tasmania, 2010), 53, accessed August 6, 2018: https://eprints.utas.edu.au/10772/2/Gaunt_whole.pdf.

  32. 32.

    Bicheno stipulated in his will that the books be offered to the TPL for a reduced sum. Catalogue, TPL, 1852, iv: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#327.

  33. 33.
  34. 34.

    Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, 1871, 15.

  35. 35.
  36. 36.

    Redmond Barry letter to Edward Barnard, quoted in Richard Overell, ‘The Melbourne Public Library and the Guillaumes: The Relationship between a Colonial Library and its London Book Supplier 1854–1865’, in Peopling a Profession: Papers from the Fourth Forum on Australian Library History, Monash University, 25 and 26 September 1989, ed. Frank Upward and Jean P. Whyte (Melbourne: Ancora Press, 1991), 35.

  37. 37.

    Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, 1871, 17–19.

  38. 38.
  39. 39.
  40. 40.

    Porscha Fermanis, ‘British Cultures of Reading and Literary Appreciation in Nineteenth-Century Singapore’, in The Edinburgh History of Reading: A World Survey from Antiquity to Present, ed. Mary Hammond and Jonathan Rose (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), forthcoming 2019, n.p.

  41. 41.
  42. 42.
  43. 43.
  44. 44.
  45. 45.

    Brian Hubber, ‘Leading by Example: Barry in the Library’, LaTrobe Journal 73 (Autumn 2004): 67–74 (73).

  46. 46.

    Herald (Melbourne), March 28, 1862, 4; Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, 1871, 23.

  47. 47.

    Michael Talbot, ‘A Close Affiliation: Coordination of Institutes in South Australia’, in Pioneering Culture: Mechanics’ Institutes and Schools of Arts in Australia, ed. Philip C. Candy and John Laurent (Adelaide: Auslib Press, 1994), 335–356 (341).

  48. 48.

    South Australian Register, January 30, 1861, 3.

  49. 49.

    South Australian Register, October 14, 1858, 3.

  50. 50.

    South Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide), October 31, 1863, 4.

  51. 51.

    Catalogue, SAPL, 1842, 162: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#269.

  52. 52.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1857, 12: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#471.

  53. 53.

    Luyt, ‘The Importance of Fiction to the Raffles Library’, 119.

  54. 54.

    On annotated catalogues, see Paul Sturges and Alison Barr, ‘“The fiction nuisance” in Nineteenth-Century British Public Libraries’, Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 24, no. 1 (1991): 23–31 (25).

  55. 55.

    South Australian Register, January 30, 1861, 3.

  56. 56.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1857, 23: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#471.

  57. 57.

    Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, 1871, 14.

  58. 58.

    South Australian Register, January 30, 1861, 3.

  59. 59.

    Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, 1871, 12.

  60. 60.

    Argus (Melbourne), May 9, 1887, 7, quoted in Gaunt, ‘Identity and Nation in the Australian Public Library’, 286.

  61. 61.

    Straits Times (Singapore), September 30, 1846, 3.

  62. 62.

    See, for example, Wallace Kirsop, ‘Libraries for an Imperial Power’, in The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland Volume II 1640–1850, ed. Giles Mandelbrote and K. A. Manley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 494–508.

  63. 63.

    Quoted in P. R. Coates, ‘National Library of South Africa’, in The International Dictionary of Library Histories: Volume 1 & 2, ed. David H. Stam (New York: Routledge, 2001), 573–575 (574).

  64. 64.

    Age (Melbourne), July 28, 1856, 5.

  65. 65.

    Age, February 18, 1856, 3.

  66. 66.

    Malcolm Wood, Australia’s Secular Foundations (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016), 66. Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, August 24, 1843, 2.

  67. 67.

    The Second Report of the Singapore Library, 1846 (Singapore: G. M. Frederick at the Singapore Free Press Office, 1846), 12.

  68. 68.

    The Third Report of the Singapore Library, 1847 (Singapore: G. M. Frederick at the Singapore Free Press Office, 1847), 4.

  69. 69.

    The 15th Report of the Singapore Library (Singapore: Free Press Office, 1860), 3.

  70. 70.
  71. 71.

    ASL, Minutes and Proceedings, 1826–1846, October 12, 1829, Australian Library and Literary Institution Papers, 1826–1871, Manuscript, State Library of New South Wales, A1625.

  72. 72.
  73. 73.
  74. 74.
  75. 75.
  76. 76.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1849, 2: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#465.

  77. 77.

    Proceedings, SAPL, 1850, 5: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#466.

  78. 78.

    Sydney Morning Herald, March 5, 1869, 3.

  79. 79.

    ‘Libraries’, North American Review 45, no. 96 (1837): 116–148 (148). Catalogue, SAPL, 1829: http://www.ucd.ie/southhem/record.html#264.

  80. 80.
  81. 81.

    Daniel Thomas, ‘Bateman, Edward La Trobe (1815–1897)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, accessed August 2, 2018: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bateman-edward-la-trobe-2951/text4285.

  82. 82.

    Hubber, ‘Leading by Example: Barry in the Library’, 70.

  83. 83.

    Argus, March 28, 1862, 4.

  84. 84.

    Marvin Spevack, ‘The Impact of the British Museum Library’, in The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland Volume II 1640–1850, ed. Giles Mandelbrote and K. A. Manley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 422–437 (435).

  85. 85.

    Patrick Joyce, ‘The Politics of the Liberal Archive’, History of the Human Sciences 12, no. 3 (1999): 35–49 (41).

  86. 86.

    Herald, March 28, 1862, 4–5.

  87. 87.

    The South Australian Institute: Comprising the Public Library, Art Gallery, and Museums (Adelaide: W. K. Thomas & Co, 1879), 15, accessed August 4, 2018: http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/archivaldocs/d/South_Australian_Institute_addresses_1879.pdf.

  88. 88.

    South Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide), October 31, 1863, 4.

  89. 89.

    Herald, March 28, 1862, 4.

  90. 90.

    Leader (Melbourne), October 17, 1863, 8.

  91. 91.

    Leader, May 6, 1865, 2.

  92. 92.
  93. 93.

    Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, 1871, 12.

  94. 94.
  95. 95.

    Heather Gaunt, ‘“In the Pursuit of Colonial Intelligence”, The Archive and Identity in the Australian Colonies in the Nineteenth Century’, in Information Beyond Borders: International Cultural and Intellectual Exchange in the Belle Époque, ed. W. Boyd Rayward (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), 49–68 (53).

  96. 96.

    W. H. P. A. Tyrrell-Glynn, ‘The History of the South African Public Library, 1830–1961’ (PhD diss., University of Stellenbosch, 1983), 90.

  97. 97.

    Argus, March 24, 1862, 6.

  98. 98.
  99. 99.

    Age, February 18, 1856, 3.

  100. 100.

    Ann L. Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Invention of Colonial Rule (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 206.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Lara Atkin
    • 1
  • Sarah Comyn
    • 1
  • Porscha Fermanis
    • 1
  • Nathan Garvey
    • 1
  1. 1.University College DublinDublinIreland

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