Monday 7 February 2011

New beginnings in beautiful surrounds

After training to be a teacher and actually being one for the past 12 years of my life, I have course corrected.  Believe me, I love kids.  I love teaching them about literature and history but I wanted a more focused career.

Somehow that career found me in Japan.  And dragged me back to Australia and into Melbourne.

I've never been more happy.

For the past month I have been working at the State Library of Victoria.  Within this stately building are a plethora of divisions of which my organisation - The Centre for Youth Literature - can be found.  I am heading up the centre with a trusty team of knowledgeable and oh so lovely co-workers.

Later in the week I'll tell you all about the things I am working on but today I thought I'd show you the library.  My new workplace.  The first place I've ever worked in an office capacity - one of the harder aspects of changing from teaching to administration.  I am not used to sitting in front of a computer for the majority of my day.  I am not used to being able to leave the premise for lunch.  I am not used to having a desk / cubicle / phone line.  I am not used to a whole host of normal things.

I am also not used to working in such a beautiful building.  This is one thing that I hope to never adjust to.

The State Library of Victoria was first built in 1854. At this point in time it takes up an entire city block and is comprised of 23 buildings. Constructed over many years it features some simply gorgeous architecture and amazing history. Last week I saw the armour of Ned Kelly (for my international friends - our Jesse James - except he wore a suit made of steel) and Hoddle's Chain (how they measured out all of Melbourne's streets)

Once the home of the State Museum and the Art Gallery, it is now all library all the time. It doesn't lend out but there are art and history exhibits, an amazing genealogy lab and free wifi. This is all great but some people love it for the green lawns that roll out from the entrance and allow a cushioned and sunny spot in which to eat one's lunch.

The first time I saw the La Trobe Reading Room I felt the breath catch in my lungs.  It's exquisite.
"Opened in 1913, this octagonal building is six stories high and can house 32,000 books and 320 readers at its desks.
To give you the awe inspiring picture -

The librarian used to sit in the centre desk (with a mirror behind them) so they could see the entire room.  Apparently the layout is based on similar architecture for prisons and asylums for maximum visibility :)  Librarians are needed to sit in the centre anymore but I've heard they would be some serious competition should that opportunity make itself known.

As for Ned Kelly's armour...

As this The Age article tells the suit weighs 44kgs (97lbs) and is made of five steel plates and a helmet. It has been housed at the SLV since 2004 and will soon be reunited with the other three suits (of Kelly's gang - Joe Byrne, Steve Hart and Dan Kelly) in Canberra later in the year.  The gang made the suits out of stolen farm machinery parts and were somewhat successful in robbing banks.

Can you imagine riding, shooting and generally walking in this thing?


Why am I sounding like a rabid geek?

I went on a library tour.  One of the tours open to the public and learnt all about what is on offer.  And I fell in love.  There are so many amazing things on offer.  I even contacted some family members for family trees so I can get started on the Walsh genealogy - I've become an info fiend, I tell you!

Who knew that microfiche weren't tiny fish?  (Well, I did but...)  Just being here has made me more curious about everything and it's terribly exciting.

You know what else is terribly exciting....what I've got coming up....and I'll tell you about that later this week. 

Cue evil laughter.



Martina said...

I would love to go around the state library. :-(

Braiden said...

Ahh memories flood back. Sitting in the packed LaTrobe room or the study halls in the back studying for my exams the last couple of years.....ahhh! The library is always so busy, but the LaTrobe room is the only place where I can find a seat or two.

Braiden said...
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Anonymous said...

The building is absolutely gorgeous! I'm so glad you've found the place you want to be. Don't get me wrong, I miss seeing you in the staff room every day, but this is totally your forte =)

Greg G said...

I don't think they ever rode in the armour - they could barely walk in it...!

Sysha said...

what an amazingly beautiful place!!! i have library envy :P

Robyn Bavati said...

A lovely post. Your love of history and literatue shine through.

mellamaphone said...
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Anonymous said...

WOW! I travel to Melbourne from Sydney for work fairly often, and I never quite know what to do when I'm there. The library will be on my to-do list next trip! I'll keep my eyes peeled for you (well, I don't know what you look like, so I'll just keep thinking 'Maybe that's her! Or maybe *that's* her!') ;)

Adele said...

Greg G - I think my brain took a wander when I wrote that. I do like the idea of him trying to heft his body weight + 44kgs onto a horse though. I imagine this fictional event was accompanied by much groaning and hinges squeaking :)

Laura (All of Everything) said...

OMG that room is beautiful! Throw some couches in there and I'd be in heaven.