Saturday, June 18, 2011

Newcastle Region Library

Folders of cuttings for Hunter locations
On Friday I found myself in Newcastle, NSW, with a couple of hours to spare. After sporting myself a coffee and sandwich I did what any self-respecting genealogist  would do and headed to the local library.
Serving the population of one of our major regional cities The Newcastle Region Library is one of the larger public library services in NSW. The Local Studies Library is on the second floor of the building that the library shares with the Regional Art Gallery. The Library aims to collect information and resources relating to the Lower Hunter Region. I hadn't visited for about 8 years and didn't spot any obvious differences in the decor, furniture and fittings. There were a few computers and microfiche readers and a reasonable collection of printed material on open access; the library was extremely tidy.

As my Tierney and Kealy ancestors lived in Dungog I spent  an hour reading through the three binders of cuttings there were for that town. I only found one reference to my great-grandfather, John D'Arcy Tierney. The articles that recounted the early history of the Dungog district will give me value background on conditions of the time. I photographed quite a few pages for future digestion.

In addition to local resurces there is a good collection of general genealogy resources. I found burial details for a few more local relatives before I started on cemetery indexes for other areas. Unfortunately I only managed to get to Cobar in the alphabetically arranged collection before I had to leave.

The library was very quiet during my visit with less than half a dozen patrons  present.

Library Desk - A good spot for a gossip
I have been ruminating about whether I should write these next few sentences but have decided that I will. As an old librarian I was extremely disappointed by the behaviour of the three library staff who stood behind the desk and gossiped for at least 45 minutes of my visit. As they discussed the General Manager, Library Manager, other library staff and their suitability for various roles plus library procedures I cringed. I could not believe that I was witnessing such a display of unprofessional behaviour. That this happened in a public area where library patrons could hear their every word made this a more reprehensible act. Their chatter did nothing to enhance the otherwise peaceful environment in the library.

Surely they could have found a more productive way to spend over two hours of Council's time .  If they were on their lunchbreaks I apologise but reiterate that this location was not appropriate for that conversation.

That having been said I would recommend that any genealogist within cooee of Newcastle or those with links to the Hunter pay a visit to The Newcastle Region Library.


John Patten said...

Ah I know that library well, having spent my high school years in Newcastle.

Perhaps there is something in the air as far as currently serving librarians go, as I was at a library west of Melbourne a couple of days ago and all I could hear were the Library staff gossiping about whether a person was a lesbian or not. I didn't stick around for long.

Sharon said...

I lived in Newcastle for a couple of years in the late 90s. As I wasn't working at the time, I would often drop my children at school and spend the day at the Library until it was time to go home for the afternoon school run.
It's a shame since leaving I have discovered a much larger Newcastle branch of my family than I thought way back then.
I remember being very impressed with the resources available then.


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