Cataloguing the Graham Science Fiction Collection

Library staff working with Rare Books & Special Collections are invited to blog about significant items and interesting discoveries. Here, Rare Books & Special Collections cataloguing assistant Simon Cooper writes about the Graham Science Fiction Collection.

During the Covid-19 period the Rare Books & Special Collections cataloguing team has been tackling, from home and using photos, the books in the Graham science fiction (SF) collection. The books number around 30,000. In addition, the collection includes large holdings of comics and magazines, serials or journals, all still to be catalogued online. 

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Digital Placemaking Project

interior Fisher Library foyer

When you visit our library sites do you ever think of the story of these places, the culture of millennia integrally connected to the land we are on?

The Library has an exciting new project announcement! We’re commissioning digital artwork by First Nations artists to inform and celebrate cultural and historical context for our physical library sites and incorporate an Acknowledgement of Country. These artworks will be displayed on screens throughout library sites and on our huge ThinkSpace video wall.

This opportunity to highlight the story of the culture of the region is part of the University of Sydney 2020 program focussing on diversity and inclusion through a Wingara Mura grant from the Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Services.

Visit our web page for more details and to access the link to the ‘Expressions of Interest’ document which contains the full artwork scope and specifications, key elements, timelines and terms and conditions.

Submission close 31 July 2020

Collecting your COVID-19 University Experience

section of quilt designed and made during COVID-19

We want to collect your stories describing your experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Library is creating a collection that documents the university experience of staff and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to collect your videos, personal reflections, artworks, photographs, stories, poetry and other expressions of your own experience to help us record this essential part of University history for generations to come. This collection will be made publicly available to be used in research, teaching and for public interest.

Not sure where to start? Consider writing a message to the future:

Imagine you’re sending a message to someone in the future. This may be your future self, your descendants, your community or even someone opening a time capsule from today in a future century. What would you like them to know about the pandemic as experienced through your daily life, your hopes, your fears, what you’ve observed or learnt, unexpected surprises and joys? Your message may take in any form – written, illustrated, composed, sound-based, video, a zine, 3D, or something else entirely. You can give it to us as a digital file(s), or a physical item.

Visit the Collecting COVID-19 website to find out how to share your story. All submissions will be reviewed in line with scope of this collection. Unfortunately, this means we won’t be able to accept everything for the final collection.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a particularly tough time for many people, please remember that there are ways for you to get support:

Support through the University of Sydney (for staff and students)

Other sources of support in Australia

Here are some of our submissions to inspire you!

Eight Million Gods in Nihon: the Practice of Shintō and the Japanese Culture

tower gate of Katori Shrine

Drawing on the Japanese pre-war postcards collection from the Library’s East Asian Collection, Rare Books & Special Collections student intern Jiawen (Chloe) Li (Master of Museum and Heritage Studies) introduces the practice of Shintō and explores its place in the Japanese culture today.


Shintō (神道) has been at the heart of Japanese culture since the country has named itself Nihon (日本), “the sun’s origin”. It originated in the relationship between ancient Japanese and the power they found in nature . Through centuries of recorded history, Shintō continues to take part in the framing of Japan both to the outside world and to the Japanese themselves. Shintō is a way of life and a way of thinking. Drawing on the Japanese postcard collection from the University Library’s East Asian Collection, this online exhibition is about to walk you through the spiritual Shintō world.

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Crommelin Collection

Library staff working with Rare Books & Special Collections are invited to blog about significant items and interesting discoveries. When Theresia Sandjaja was cataloguing for Rare Books & Special Collections, she found an envelope addressed simply to “Miss M. Crommelin, Pearl Beach via Woy Woy”. Theresia tells the story of her find:



Working on the Crommelin Collection, I encountered the envelope pictured above without a full address. I supposed that she must have been a very prominent person during her time. Further research concluded that she was the first Post Mistress in Woy Woy (1906-1910)!

Minard Fannie Crommelin was born on 29 June 1881 at Aston station, near Bombala, New South Wales. Her experience working in the post office started as early as 12 when she assisted the postmistress at Burrawong. Minard continued learning at the Sydney Church of England Grammar School for Girls then worked as an assistant in the post office at Moss Vale. In 1906, she became the acting postmistress in Woy Woy, where she stayed until 1910. During the rest of her working life, she was relieving postmistress in over 150 towns. 

Minard Crommelin often explored local bushland for walks and picnics with friends. When visiting Pearl beach, near Woy Woy, she spotted a lyrebird for the first time, which encouraged her to retire there. Pearl Beach has the best of both worlds: tranquil bush, full of birds & crickets chirping, and a short walk to a gentle rolling wave beach.

At the end of her working life in the mid-1930s, Crommelin visited England, Ireland and Europe to learn about her family history. She was also active in many conservation and natural history societies and began purchasing antique furniture and rare books on Australia and its natural history. Books owned by her have a bookplate designed by Neave Parker (1910-1961), an English natural history artist. The bookplate contains the Crommelin arms with three merlettes and a chevron, and illustrations of the Australian bush with native animals such as koalas, a kangaroo, and a lyrebird.

After returning to Australia, Crommelin purchased around seven acres of land adjoining a sanctuary at Pearl Beach. She named the main residence and library “Warrah”, an Aboriginal word meaning “a wide view” or “seen from a long way”. In 1946, Crommelin gave the property along with all other assets to the University of Sydney, with the provision that she would still be able to stay and live there for the rest of her life. The original copy of the deed of gift is archived at Mitchell Library.

Her legacy still lives to present day. The University named the Crommelin Biological Research Station in her honour, which is now used by our visiting scholars. The books previously held in Warrah were transferred to Fisher Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections .

In addition to her invaluable contribution to the University of Sydney, Crommelin was also active in assisting local communities. Crommelin Place in Canberra, Crommelin Crescent in St Helens Park, NSW, and Crommelin Native Arboretum, Pearl Beach (shown below), are all named in her honour.


For more information on Minard Crommelin and Neave Parker:

Crommelin.org
Neave parker

Free access to online reading material from SUP!

book covers

Sydney University Press have compiled some of their favourite free reading material from their own open access collection and from around the world. There is history, Australian poetry, classic children’s picture books and much more to choose from!

SYDNEY OPEN LIBRARY

In our Sydney Open Library, you’ll find all of SUP’s open access books, including history, biography, politics, literary criticism, public health and more, all free to read.

AUSTRALIAN POETRY LIBRARY

Created by the University of Sydney and the Australian Copyright Agency, the Australian Poetry Library hosts tens of thousands of poems by Australian writers, plus recordings of poets reading their work.

INDIGENOUS MUSIC OF AUSTRALIA

Several books in our Indigenous Music of Australia series have companion websites, where you can learn about the music of Indigenous communities and stream audio and video recordings of musicians performing their songs

Book cover: Fighting Nature by Peta Tait

From Sydney Open Library:

Throughout the 19th century, animals were integrated into staged scenarios of confrontation, ranging from lion acts in small cages to large-scale re-enactments of war. Fighting Nature is an insightful analysis of the historical legacy of 19th-century colonialism, war, animal acquisition and transportation.

Book Cover: Singing Bones - ancestral Creativity and Collaboration by Samuel Curkpatrick

From Indigenous Music of Australia:

Manikay are the ancestral songs of Arnhem Land, passed down over generations and containing vital cultural knowledge.

Singing Bones foregrounds the voices of manikay singers from Ngukurr in southeastern Arnhem Land, and charts their critically acclaimed collaboration with jazz musicians from the Australian Art Orchestra, Crossing Roper Bar. It offers an overview of Wägilak manikay narratives and style, including their social, ceremonial and linguistic aspects, and explores the Crossing Roper Bar project as an example of creative intercultural collaboration and a continuation of the manikay tradition.