Through our library, we invest heavily to help preserve Australia’s cultural heritage. We value the power of our varied histories to tell us something new and surprising about the world we live in today. For this reason, we are passionate about improving access to the chronicles of different eras. We keep significant collections, archives and individual items that hold regional, national and global research appeal.
However, future generations of researchers can only make use of this content if it is carefully maintained and curated. Conservation and digitisation can be expensive and time consuming, and demand for new resources often exceeds our capacity. We urgently need to preserve our rich and diverse resources through a far-reaching program of digitisation, to ensure nothing of value is lost because it’s difficult to access, or because of damage, degradation or lack of space.
What makes us different
At the University of Wollongong Library and Archives, we work with philanthropic donors and government bodies to acquire and preserve rare and unique items of cultural history:
- Our archives are a regional repository for the state records of New South Wales, and we are responsible for preserving and maintaining a range of material of significance. We also hold items unique to the Wollongong and Illawarra regions, including significant historic records, often the only copies in existence.
- We adopt and apply rapid advances in technology and are experts in the application of metadata, digital preservation standards, licensing, copyright as well as curation and archiving.
- We have more than 5,800 items available for discovery through our Archives Online and more material added daily.
- We recently restored the Pringle Album, a unique collection of 86 sepia photographs that capture the evocative symbols of life in the Illawarra from over 130 years ago – coal miners and collieries, picturesque homesteads and miners’ cottages. Taken by mining manager Arthur Henry Pringle, the images include a rare and haunting image taken immediately after an explosion at the Bulli Colliery in 1887 that killed 80 people.
- We were selected to house the digital archive of OZ Magazine, the iconic and globally influential counter-culture publication born in Sydney in the 1960s. The process of digitisation has made the magazine available to new audiences and researchers, and has garnered worldwide acclaim for its support of scholarship centring on cultural movements.
With your support, we will invest in an ambitious range of projects and equipment to ensure our unique collections are made available to the researchers of tomorrow, including:
- Creating environmentally-controlled storage for 20 community and cultural collections, including space for display and research and incorporating sustainable preservation techniques, to ensure the long-term safety of important archives. This capital project is planned for 2021, with an estimated cost of $2.5 million.
- Purchasing digitisation equipment to bring our archives to a global audience, including new flatbed and overhead scanners costing $15,000.
- Conserving Cook’s Voyages, a rare 1892 edition of books seldom seen outside of major national and State institutions, detailing the explorer’s journeys. We urgently need to repair and conserve the books, at a cost of $12,000.
- Digitisation and conservation will expose previously unseen collections and notable archival content for research and scholarship, supporting the expansion of what we know and understand about the world, yesterday and today.
- Through new digital archives, researchers will be able to have more interactive and multidimensional experiences with otherwise static content, promoting the planned and serendipitous discovery of new information.
- Digitisation of our extensive archives also means scholars across the country and the world will be able to access them online, without the need to travel, enabling greater collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas.
- We will be able to protect and preserve rare and diverse cultural and historical items for future generations of researchers working across disciplines.
“We all owe the University of Wollongong a great debt.”
Dangerous Minds online journal, on the digitisation of OZ magazine
“By donating my collections to the UOW Library they will be of far more benefit than if held privately.”
Mr Barry Becarevic, UOW alumnus who donated the photographs comprising the Pringle Album as well as a very rare book from 1789 which provides some of the earliest accounts of this period of Australian history.