Support from Friends of the Library members helps us to acquire, house and preserve important items for the state collection. In thanks for their generosity, throughout the year there are opportunities for Friends to go behind the scenes and enjoy the Library’s treasures. These ‘white glove’ experiences are a great way to gain exposure to the Library’s collections and meet some of the Library’s expert staff.

As our current Annual Appeal has a children’s and youth literature focus, we recently hosted an event to introduce Friends of the Library to our Children’s Literature Collection.

When the Library was first established, founder Sir Redmond Barry decided to not collect ‘juvenile’ literature. Over time however, the Library’s Children’s Literature Collection has grown to over 100,000 books, largely thanks to generous in-kind donations and the dedication of staff.

Juliet O’Conor, the Children’s Research Librarian, is responsible for cataloging, researching and preserving this marvellous collection. She has been working at the Library for over 15 years, and selected some of her favourite titles for the Friends to view.

The books on display included educational books from the early 16th and 17th centuries, and facsimiles of the earliest alphabet books known as Horn Books. The Friends then went on to explore 19th and 20th century illustrated Australian and international children’s books, including productions known as Gift Books from the Edwardian period, which showcased the work of artists like Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and others.

Of particular interest was Edward Lear’s Book of nonsense, a volume of limericks that helped popularise the form and the genre of literary nonsense. The Friends also enjoyed various illustrated editions of Lewis Carroll’s books. This year, the Library is hoping to add to this outstanding collection by raising funds for a first edition of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.

Friends of the Library enjoy special events like these throughout the year. You can find out more about Friends’ benefits and membership here. To help us acquire and share more incredible children’s classics, please support us by donating to the Annual Appeal.

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