Eril Wangerek

It’s National Volunteer Week, so we’re celebrating all the dedicated, talented and inspiring people who volunteer with State Library Victoria, and we want you to meet some of them!

Eril Wangerek is a volunteer in the Australian Manuscripts Collection, who enjoys working with the diaries and journals that detail life in 19th-century Melbourne.

‘I volunteer in the Australian Manuscripts section, transcribing and indexing. I started here as a volunteer around mid-year of 2016. I’d known Library volunteers Sally Hall and Dulcie Burns for some years, and when Dulcie had to retire for health reasons, Sally convinced me that I would enjoy taking over her role. 

‘I had worked at the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) for 15 years and was very involved in the project to index passenger lists for the vessels arriving in Victoria. I saw how much the volunteers on the project got out of their weekly day of indexing at PROV. Knowledge and experience were gained, friendships formed, and a sense of achievement felt by all. After retiring I wanted to do some type of volunteering, and I felt that my experiences at PROV could be best utilised at an institution like State Library Victoria.

‘The projects I’ve worked on at the Library have all been interesting, but I really enjoy the diaries and journals kept by early settlers and visitors to Victoria. You gain real insights into early Melbourne – the community and its activities, descriptions of weather, the vegetation and animals etc. Sometimes you can see that Melbourne’s weather hasn’t changed – it’s always been very changeable and unpredictable!

‘I like to spend time myself researching family history – mine or some else’s! Among my other interests is the old Chinese game of Mahjong, which I’ve enjoyed playing since childhood and (normally!) play once a month with some friends. Gardening is another interest that takes up my time, and I’ve started a ‘Share space’ in my front yard. I put out any surplus plants or produce, and others take what they need or bring any extra produce that they may have. Another hobby I enjoy is making books that people can use as journals and diaries and the like. I am also a member of and volunteer at the Richmond and Burnley Historical Society.

‘Volunteering is always a rewarding thing to do. Not only do you gain experience, personal satisfaction, and an understanding of others’ points of view, but you also know that you’re doing something to help other people and society in general. The most rewarding part? The privilege we are given to handle these old (and sometimes fragile) documents and manuscripts, and the sense of achievement when another resource is digitised and becomes available to the wider public. All in all, an enjoyable and satisfying way to spend a day.’

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