Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rare Books Week at the MCC

My walk up to Camberwell this morning does not end with the round trip back home, but at Flinders Street station. My destination: Melbourne City Library, for a Libraries Australia User Group meeting. After listening to Nikki Darby talk about recent developments with the seach and document delivery software, I skive off the meeting once it breaks up for morning tea.

Shortly after midday I am sitting in the Melbourne Cricket Club Library next to a glass case of Wisdens, starting some time before 1879. Mysteriously the latest one in the cabinet is 2005-06.

The Rare Books Week panel discussion with Russell Jackson, Gideon Haigh, John Harms and MCC Librarian David Studham will be starting at 12.30. John Harms's Twitter handle @ratherbeatlunch seems more appropriate than usual. I am sitting next to Cmdr Warren Kemp RFD RANR, President of the Royal United Services Institute of Victoria. I now have a standing invitation to visit the Institute Library, at the Victoria Barracks.

Collecting sport panel discussion
Collecting sport panel discussion

These are some notes from the discussion. John Harms's early favourite cricket books were, appropriately enough, the ABC Cricket Books. The first (now very rare) ABC cricket book was issued in 1934. John showed us the library copy. It is quite small and flimsy and is kept in a protective plastic pocket.

Gideon Haigh calls himself an accumulator rather than a collector of cricket books. His primary purpose in writing his books is to fill the gaps, such as his book about Warwick Armstrong. Gideon likes the MCC Library because it is accessible, with nearly all its collection on the shelves. He thinks it is the best sporting library in the world.

Russell finds many sporting books are available online. Decreasing interest in collecting by a younger demographic is assisting collectors. Slower paced, smaller ball sports (cricket, golf, tennis and baseball) lend themselves to literary reflection, according to Russell.

The panel discussed the so called 'Argus centered view of history', which is an issue because the Argus is on Trove, whereas the early editions of the Herald are rotting away at Fishermen's Bend. The State Library of Victoria generally has only one daily edition of the Herald, although three or four would have been issued each day. Thus means that vital information such as the match results may be missing from the library copy.

The MCC catalogue on Trove is on the way. MCC management attitude is now to share information about its resources, whereas in the past they guarded it jealously because of a fear of theft.

After the session I catch a tram at the Rod Laver Arena stop. On the way home I visit Hawthorn Library to collect Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham, as recommended by Ross Harvey, and then the IGA to pick up a few supplies. Back on the tram at Glenferrie Road, then home to make some fried rice for dinner. A rare day out.