Tuesday, 29 April 2014

FOLMI Annual General Meeting

Annual General Meeting of the
Friends of the Launceston Mechanics’ Institute
5pm Friday 2 May 2014 in the Phil Leonard Room,
to be followed immediately by an ordinary meeting

AGM Agenda

1.            Opening, attendance and apologies.
2.            Minutes of the inaugural AGM and business arising from them.
3.            President's report
4.            Treasurer's report
5.            Motion on auditing of accounts for 2013-14
6.            Motion to amend the constitution
7.            Election of officers
8.            Setting membership fee for 2014-15
9.            Any other business

Item 5 Motion: That Friends of the Launceston Mechanics’ Institute Inc seek exemption from audit requirements for the financial year 2013-2014 in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Justice.

Item 6 Motion: That amendment be made to Rule 5 Membership of Association, Subrule (n) “In the event of the Association being wound up the items in the Launceston Mechanics’ Institute Collection maintained by the Association will be offered back to Launceston City Council or Council be given the right of first refusal..”

Current officers:
President – Peter Richardson;    Vice-President – Sue McClarron;
Secretary – Mike McCausland;   Treasurer – Richard Pickup;
Committee  Members – Prue McCausland & John Dent;
Public Officer – Prue McCausland
All officers have indicated their willingness to continue in these roles; further
nominations for any of these positions are welcome at the meeting

for the ordinary meeting following the AGM

1              Progress report on housing the Collection at UTAS
2              Updating FOLMI’s action plan for 2014
3              Community Heritage Grants application
4              Options for a permanent home for the Collection
5              Report on visit to Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

LMI Bookplates

Libraries have a long history of "defacing" their book-stock  - both externally and internally - with all manner of covers, plates, inscriptions, stickers, labels, stamps and numbers, sometimes bringing a tear to the eye of the serious book collector.

Bookplates have the obvious primary purpose of identifying ownership, be it institutional or private, and assisting the borrower to return the item to its rightful place. A secondary use can be to trace the provenance of a book as it moves between collections; through a variety of classification schemes; and from institution to institution.

The Bookplate, or 'Ex Libris', also has interest to collectors, students of design and typography, and to bibliophiles generally.

In: Henry, Lord Brougham, Political Philosophy, part 1. 3rd ed., 
London; H.G. Bohn, 1853. Accessioned at Vol. 1, Acc. no. 2160.

A selection of twenty eight of the bookplates used by the Launceston Mechanics' Institute between 1842 and 1929 has been added to Flickr.

They illustrate the Victorian/Edwardian's love of elaborate borders, ornate printing, and their propensity to mix as many different type-faces as possible to convey a single message. It is noteworthy how many different designs were created and used by the Institute during its history. Clearly their purpose went beyond a utilitarian proof of ownership, and they were used to demonstrate the pride of the Committee and membership in the prestige of the Institute.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Lefroy Mechanics' Institute

Sorting the books of the Launceston Mechanics' Institute has revealed a most interesting artefact of a long-forgotten Tasmanian country Institute.

The mining town of Lefroy, located north-east of GeorgeTown, established its own Institute in the early 1880s, as envisioned in this article in the Launceston Examiner, 1 August 1881 (p.3):

LEFROY. (From a Correspondent.) Among the many plans of practical utility which engage the attention of the residents of this rapidly progressing town, that which, when perfected by the erection of a Mechanics' Institute, will provide a place of intellectual and innocent recreation and amusement, deserves of more than passing notice. The idea of founding a Mechanics' Institute originated with a gentleman who had had considerable experience in erecting kindred associations elsewhere, and his plan was at once approved, and supported by those to whom he imparted it. Subscriptions in money and donations in books were at once promised, and it was determined to at once hold a meeting to test the feelings of the district. Sufficient support was here given to justify the promoters in taking such steps as that of securing the ground, appointing officers, prosessional committee, etc. Unlike many institutions which have been born in flame and buried in smoke, the Lefroy Institute will spring from a modest and small foundation. At a meeting of the provisional committee on the 25th inst., it was elicited that with a sum of £40 in hand a start would be made by the erection of a building suitable for a reading-room and library, that, chiefly through the exertions of Bernard Shaw, Esq.*, the Government had made a free grant of the land required for a site, and that of the £50 required £33 18s had been promised, and also 200 volumes of books. A vote of thanks was given to Mr Shaw for his courtesy and kind efforts on our behalf. A decision arrived at to provide monthly entertainments in aid of the institute, and an amusement committee was formed to make all necessary arrangements in connection therewith. It will thus be seen that we are, in this part of the colony, thoroughly alive to our needs and requirements. If, as is highly probable, we succeed in meeting with fair and generous support, so much sooner will the institute, in its entirety, be an accomplished fact, and we trust that, considering how greatly our uncoined gold has benefited Launceston, its inhabitants will devote some portion of their surplus coin in aid of an institution so truly beneficial. I need not say also that anything literary will receive a warm welcome at our hands.

*Bernard Shaw, Esq., (1836-1910) was Commissioner 
of Mines and Goldfields at this time.

By 1883 the Institute was well-established, and was described by a visitor to the town in these terms;

Next to the Anglican Church is the Mechanics' Institute, a small and unpretentious building. It contains a library of 600 volumes, and is well supplied with newspapers, periodicals, etc.
Launceston Examiner 17 July 1883, p3

By 1887, the collection appears to have shrunk somewhat as the "Tasmanian Directory and Gazetteer" of that year refers to a "library of 400 volumes".

How long the Institute operated at Lefroy is yet to be discovered, but clearly from the overlaid library plate illustrated below, part of its collection found its way into the Launceston Public Library (1929 -) at some later date.

The plate was found in Volume VII of "The British Essayists ..." edited by A. Chalmers, F.S.A.(1823).


A fully exposed Lefroy bookplate has since been found, although a different colour, in a copy of Collier's "Lectures on Scripture Facts" (1802), bound by G. Rolwegan, Hobart Town.

Another volume with interesting provenance, and a mining connection, found its way into the LMI collection in 1890 via the first Launceston Public Library. It was originally part of the Pleasant Creek Library and Mechanics' Institute collection from Quartz Reef (now Stawell), Victoria. The volume 'Episodes of Fiction' (pub. 1870) features a handsome black leather binding with stamped insignia.