Saturday, 21 September 2013

Friends of the Launceston Mechanics' Institute

 We invite you to a meeting to form FOLMI

You are cordially invited to a meeting to inaugurate an incorporated volunteer community group, Friends of the Launceston Mechanics’ Institute Inc. The meeting will be held on 18 October 2013 at 5pm in the Phil Leonard Room of Launceston LINC.
The goal of the new incorporated association is to establish and maintain a working research Launceston Mechanics’ Institute Collection.  More specifically this will entail: 

i) locating, selecting, organising, cataloguing and preserving existing materials once the property of the Launceston Mechanics’ Institute between 1842 and 1929; 
ii) liaising with local, state and national government and professional agencies and with relevant interest groups to promote the significance of the LMI Collection; 
iii) establishing a permanent home for the LMI Collection, in particular those parts not integrated with local and state government collections;
iv) providing broad public access to the catalogue of the LMI Collection and enabling direct access to researchers needing to use the Collection.

Six months ago it appeared that over half of the once-LMI Collection, about 12,000 nonfiction books, might be disposed of, so Friends of the Launceston Mechanics’ Institute (FOLMI) was formed to muster support for retaining all extant LMI materials.  Recently the Launceston City Council and LINC Tasmania have been in discussion about ways of retaining the whole collection, but it is dependent on there being an incorporated body to take responsibility for the parts of the collection not lodged in the working collections of QVMAG or Launceston LINC.

At the 18 October meeting FOLMI will adopt its constitution in a form allowing for incorporation.  This means appointing a public officer and office bearers (there are volunteers already prepared to take on these roles) and accepting the standard Rules for Associations governing meeting procedure, financial probity etc. required by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading.

The founders of FOLMI wish to welcome new members into this foundation group and to invite interest groups such as historical societies and other ‘Friends of’ groups to indicate their support for retaining the LMI Collection. Most welcome of all, of course, are those who may be able to participate in the archival work to be undertaken from January next year in unpacking boxes of LMI books, sorting, and later cataloguing them.

If you are interested in being involved in FOLMI, please contact either of us, and come along to the meeting on 18 October at 5pm in the Phil Leonard Room.
If you are unable to attend but would like be involved in FOLMI please let us know prior to the meeting.
If you know of others who might be interested in this project we would be most grateful if you would pass on this invitation.

Peter Richardson
Mike McCausland

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Events at the Institute

The Mechanics' Institute was of course much more than a Library. It was a social and educational hub for the community hosting a busy programme of lectures, concerts, entertainments and exhibitions.
Here is a selection of entry tickets to events held at the Launceston Mechanics' Institute.

The first is of particular historical significance as it marks the initial public appearance in Tasmania of Frederick Matthias Alexander (born at Wynyard, Tas in 1869) following his move to Melbourne in 1889. The subsequent career of F M as the originator and teacher of the Alexander Technique in England and the United States was followed with great interest by Tasmanians.

 Alexander's recital was previewed by the Launceston Examiner as follows;

ELOCUTIONARY ENTERTAINMENT. - Mr F. M. Alexander, an elocutionist who comes to us with good testimonials from Melbourne, will make his initial bow to a Launceston audience at the Mechanics' Institute on Thursday evening. The entertainment will be given under the auspices of the Mechanics' Institute committee, and as an interest in the very necessary but lamentably neglected art of voice culture has been aroused in our midst of late, there should be a satisfactory attendance. Mr Alexander was a pupil of Mr Hill, and carried off first prize in a recent elocutionary competition in Melbourne. His tutor is a son of the late Mr T. H. Hill, author of that well-known work "Hill's Oratorical Trainer," and probably the best teacher of elocution we have had in Australia. On Thursday evening Mr Alexander will present to his audience the choicest selections from his extensive repertoire, the majority of the items being new to Launcestonians. He will be assisted by several of our best known musicians, and altogether an enjoyable programme may be looked forward to. The press notices Mr Alexander has received from the Melbourne papers are most favourable. Should sufficient inducement offer the probabilities are that he will make a sojourn in this city. (Launceston Examiner, 7 May 1894, p5)


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

MIV Newsletter No.32 - Winter-Spring 2013

The latest issue of Useful Knowledge, the newsletter of the Mechanics' Institutes of Victoria Inc., is now available. The newsletter features a two-page article headed "Launceston Mechanics' Institute's nationally significant remnant book collection".
The illustrated article charts the development and survival of this remarkable collection, and highlights the opportunities for serious research afforded by its preservation.

MIV Inc. was formed in 1998. It aims to foster the preservation and restoration of the social, cultural and physical heritage of Mechanics' Institutes through the development of information exchanges and systems of mutual support.
Membership is open to groups and individuals with an interest in the MI movement, particularly in Victoria.
Since its formation MIV has:

  • Staged the first National Mechanics' Institutes Conference in Melbourne in 2000 and published its proceedings.

  •  Facilitated the publishing of the 350 page book If the Walls Could Speak: A Social History of the Mechanics' Institutes of Victoria.

  •  Assisted the publication of The Libraries of the Mechanics' Institutes of Victoria.

  •   Secured a round of Government grants for some of Victoria's MIs.

  •   Produced two Travelling Exhibitions Remember the Mechanics? and Mechanics'... And Proud of it!

  •  Staged Regional Meetings in country Victoria.

  • Established a Mechanics' Institutes Resources Centre (MIRC) and database at Prahran MI.

  •  Staged the First International Conference Mechanics' Worldwide in September 2004.

  •  Launched MIV's Historical Plaques Program in 2003 have to date issued over 30 plaques statewide.

To discover more about Mechanics' Institutes of Victoria Inc. and to obtain a copy of the newsletter visit their website at;