The Quaker Collection at the University of Tasmania Library:
a history - by Graeme Rayner
The Quaker collection, now housed as part of the Special and Rare Collections of the University of Tasmania Library, owes its presence at the Library to University Librarian Dan Sprod. Mr Sprod, as part of his programme to gather historical and research resources at the University Library, negotiated with the Society of Friends in Hobart for the transfer of their historical library to the care of the University. In 1971 the collection of titles previously held by the Society at its Meeting House in Hobart, was transferred to the Morris Miller Library on the Sandy Bay Campus.
During the intervening 3 years, a preliminary check-list was compiled by Frances Mary Dunn who undertook the compilation as a special project in relation to her employment as a Library cataloguer. The check-list was printed in limited copy numbers in 1975. A special bookplate was devised for application to each title, which indicated that it had been transferred to the Morris Miller Library of the University by the Society of Friends, Hobart Meeting.
Also transferred to the University were many archival documents, which were incorporated into the University Archives collection. The University Archivist was also, at that time, seeking to add scholarly historic and research materials to the collection so the addition of the Quaker material was most welcome and timely.
In 1972, an exhibition entitled “Publishers of Truth” was held by the Morris Miller Library which illustrated ‘the books of the Quaker faith’ The exhibition was arranged to mark several events but also acted as an expression of gratitude to the Society of Friends for agreeing to transfer their old books and records to the University Library.
Since the 1971 transfer, additions to the collection were funded from Library book allocations. The University Librarian and other staff, were involved in this activity through normal processes of book selection enabled by the publishing and second hand book industry. Dan Sprod, who undertook an extensive study trip in 1973, was also, as part of this exercise, able to select and purchase a number of titles for addition to the collection.
Other contacts with the Quaker community worldwide were established and in 1980 the Library was offered a significant collection of Quaker titles by L Hugh Doncaster in Worcester, England. The Doncaster collection comprised “42 linear feet” of books and journals, which he was willing to donate to the University. The negotiations were eventually completed and the titles arrived in October 1981. Again, a special bookplate was devised and affixed to each title acknowledging the generosity of L Hugh Doncaster.
In 1981 a further number of titles were transferred to the Morris Miller Library by the Society of Friends in Hobart and these, too, were distinguished by the addition of the further bookplate acknowledging this transfer. Other donations, from individuals within the Society of Friends, have occurred from time to time.
Haverford College, in Pennsylvania, was one institution with which the University Library maintained a regular correspondence during the 1980s, and some exchange of titles with Haverford took place to our mutual benefit.
At the same time, other work was undertaken to eliminate duplicate titles from the collection and negotiations were established with Quaker collections and institutions worldwide to offer the unwanted duplicates.
The cataloguing of the collection, initially undertaken as special projects in the 1970s and early 1980s has subsequently been incorporated in the normal routines of the Cataloguing section. Initially classified into the Library’s Bliss classification (in use until 1973) it was later transferred to the Library of Congress classification. Progressive automated re-cataloguing programs have resulted in the whole collection now appearing in the Library on-line catalogue.
Additions to the Quaker collection are still being made and selections are undertaken, from time to time, by the School of History and Classics, the Collection Management Librarian and other interested parties.
Statistics of the Quaker collection, as of 2006, are as follows:
Books 2782, Rare books 481, Serials 56, Microforms 21
Librarian, Special and Rare Materials Collection