Although celebrating 50 years of scholarly service to innumerable students and staff, as well as the changes it has made to meet new needs, one thing remains constant about UNE’s Library: it is still the heart of the University.
This special place was acknowledged on Friday, 27 May, when past and present staff, students and members of the community gathered on campus to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the permanent, purpose-designed home of the Dixson Library.
In opening the event, Deputy Chancellor Scott Williams noted the contribution of the Library’s namesake, Sir William Dixson, who donated £5,000 for the purchase of books when the New England University College (NEUC) opened in 1938.
He also spoke of the Library’s motto, ‘Cease not to learne until thou cease to live’, the theme of both the event and a new exhibition on display in various locations throughout the building. The exhibition illustrates the history of the University’s library to the present day and runs until 16 October.
The Library’s original location, in the former drawing room of “Booloominbah”, was inadequate in every respect, and temporary accommodation in the Marshall Building followed before a permanent home, modelled on Harvard’s Lamont Library, was completed in 1961. Since then it has been extended several times to meet the needs of an expanding collection and student population, as well as changing technologies. Over the past five decades, the Library has transformed from a static, passive study area into a lively, user-friendly space for researchers to use new technologies and work collaboratively.
With the invention of the Guttenberg press ushering in what he called ‘the literate society’, UNE Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, pointed to the vast array of information and published material which can be accessed electronically through the Library today. He said the new spaces recently created in the Dixson Library were probably milestones on the way to the Library of the future, which he envisaged as even more of ‘a place for recreation’ and where ‘the formal and informal would merge.’
The University Librarian, Barbara Paton, added that ‘although libraries have changed, the library as a place has remained’.
‘The Library offers students so much more now. It’s a place where students can meet, learn, interact and use technology’ she said, noting at the same time that the University Library’s primary objective had not changed. ‘The Library is still the core of the University’s resources for teaching and learning, enabling students to develop their capacity to learn throughout life.’
Ms Paton paid tribute to the essential contribution of library staff in enabling the Library to fulfil these roles, acknowledging the many former staff present for the day’s celebrations and the high regard in which many had come to be held by academics and students alike.