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Reid Library - 50 Facts, 50 Years

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50 Facts, 50 Years

The Reid Library at The University of Western Australia celebrates its 50th birthday this year!  

To celebrate, we're going to share a series of 50 facts and photos about the Reid Library once every week in 2014.

  1. Sir Alexander Reid and Queen Elizabeth II
  2. Student bags outside Reid Library
  3. Royal Institute of British Architects - Bronze Medal
  4. Reid Library extensions 1971-1972
  5. 100 Treasures - Reid Library Walkway
  6. LOANLY - the first automated loans system in the world!
  7. Reid Library Post Box made by J & E Ledger
  8. First stage of Reid Library completed in 1964
  9. Early troubles for LOANLY
  10. Million visitors in 2013
  11. Reid Library Opening Ceremony
  12. Winthrop Hall Undercroft collection storage
  13. Leonard Jolley - University Librarian
  14. Reid Library information desk through the decades
  15. Original Reid Library model
  16. Reid Library's first photocopier
  17. Reid Library Luminous Night
  18. Professor Gordon Stephenson
  19. Smoking in Reid Library?
  20. Smallest book in Reid Library
  21. Our largest book
  22. Our oldest book
  23. Temporary library circa 1949
  24. Reid Library's architecture
  25. Loan limits circa 1964
  26. Printed course readings in Reid Library
  27. Library Catalogue on microfiche
  28. Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC)
  29. Library card catalogue prior to dismantling
  30. Duckling ramps
  31. Nazi propaganda
  32. Reid Library from Tropical Grove
  33. Reid Library cat
  34. The irresistible RedBall
  35. Orchard or orchid?
  36. Bible leaves
  37. Suggested main library concept?
  38. 'Gang hooliganism'
  39. Reid coffee shop
  40. Reid Library and the Arts Building
  41. WRITESmart - since 2005
  42. Reid Library roof hat?
  43. Reid Information Centre - circa June 2008
  44. Jill Benn - sixth University Librarian
  45. Proposals and nuptials in the Reid Library
  46. Friends of the Library
  47. Reid Library's historical value to the City of Subiaco
  48. EDFAA books in the Reid Library
  49. Reid Library 1964 Orientation Video
  50. Ground floor makeover
Fact No. Comments Images

#1

 

The Reid Library opened its doors in 1964 and was named after Sir Alexander Reid who was Chancellor from 1956-1968. In this photo, you can see him walking in front of the Reid Library construction site alongside Queen Elizabeth II on her 1963 royal visit.

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 2224P)

#1

#2

 

In the days before the security gates were installed, students had to leave their bags outside when visiting the Reid Library.

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 319P)

#2

#3

 

The Reid Library building was designed by Western Australian architectural firm, Cameron, Chisholm and Nicol. The building was awarded a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Bronze Medal in 1964.

 

(Courtesy UWA Archives)

#3

#4

 

When it opened, the Reid Library could accommodate 800 readers and 240,000 books. It was then extended in 1971-1972 and doubled in size!

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 2867P)

#4

#5

 

The Reid Library walkway was named one of the ‘100 Treasures from UWA’ in the 2011 book edited by Virginia Rowland and Ted Snell.

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 7416P)

#5

#6

 

An automated loans system was introduced in the Reid Library for the first time in 1967. It was called Loanly and was one of the first automated loans systems in the world! You can see how the punch card system worked in the image below.

 

(Image courtesy of Alex Reid)

#6

#7

 

The old-style red cast iron pillar box outside the Reid Library was made by J & E Ledger. Joe and Edson Ledger were Heath Ledger’s ancestors and the first members of the Ledger family to come to Australia.

 

(Heath: A Family’s Tale by Janet Fife-Yeomans, Cast iron pillar boxes of Western Australia : an early history of the J & E Ledger foundry by Sue Hobson)

#7

#8

 

The first stage of Reid Library completed in 1964 cost £460,000 (Decimal currency wasn’t used in Australia until 1966).

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 2904P)

#8

#9

 

Our original automated library loans system, LOANLY had troubled beginnings; in 1975 the user-facing 'charge stations' (pictured below) were damaged after being dropped during unloading at Perth Airport, and in 1976 the heart of the system, the DEC PDP-11 was damaged due to a suspected lightning strike!

 

Despite these setbacks, the system became an invaluable innovation for the University.

 

(Source: University Library Annual Report 1976)

#9

#10

 

In 2013 over 1 million people walked through the Reid Library’s doors. Were you one of them?

 

(UWA Archives 2564P)

#10

#11

 

The Reid Library was officially opened on 7th May, 1965 by the Premier of Western Australia, the Honourable David Brand, M.L.A., Hon. LL.D.

 

If the weather was fine on the day, the plan was to hold the opening ceremony in the Great Court facing the library and moat. As can be seen in the photo of the opening ceremony above, this unfortunately did not come to pass!

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 306P)

#11

#12

 

Before the Reid Library opened, the Winthrop Hall Undercroft was used to house the growing Library collections. You can see students using the ‘Library’ in the Undercroft in the photo above.

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 2481P)

#12

#13

 

The University Librarian when Reid Library first opened was Leonard Jolley, husband of the well-known writer Elizabeth Jolley. Leonard often displayed an acerbic sense of humour.

 

A young man once complained about the unfairness of women being allowed to take bags into the Reid library whereas men had to leave their bags outside. Leonard Jolley used the Library noticeboard to reply that as a young man went through life he had a right to expect a good many things but that he would be greatly disappointed if he expected fairness to be one of them.

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 23747P; Anecdote from Doing life: a biography of Elizabeth Jolley by Brian Dibble, p.144)

#13

#14

 

The service point in the Reid Library has had a number of transformations over the past 50 years. There were even turnstiles to direct the flow of traffic in the 80s!

 

Check out the newest service point when you next visit Reid!

 

(1970s image courtesy UWA Archives, 23747P)

#14

#15

 

The architect for the Reid Library was Gil Nicol from the architectural firm Cameron, Chisholm and Nicol. A number of buildings around Perth bear Gil Nicol’s stamp and these include the Alexander Library Building, Wesfarmers Building and the Metropolitan Water Centre in Leederville.

 

You can see the original model of the Reid Library in the photo on the right.

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 3584P)

#14

#16

 

If the big revolution in the 1990s was the coming of the Internet, then in the 1960s it was the coming of the Xerox 914 photocopier. This copier was the first successful plain paper copier and transformed the copying of book pages and journal articles in libraries.

 

The first Xerox 914 was installed in the Reid Library in May 1963 and by the end of the year 55,117 copies had been made (pictured right).

 

Check out the TV commercial for the Xerox 914 on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xZYcWsh8t0

#16

#17

 

The Reid Library was one of the focal points of the UWA Centenary celebrations on the 8th February 2013. As part of LUMINOUSnight, Dance UWA performed on the Reid terrace and a spaceship landed on top of the Reid Library (viewable through the Centenary app).

 

Did you miss it? You can check out the highlights of LUMINOUSnight here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLal-T-RbEA

#17

#18

 

The concept of having a dedicated library building facing Winthrop Hall across the Great Court came from a campus plan developed in 1954-55. The plan was prepared by Professor Gordon Stephenson from the University of Liverpool who had been brought to Perth by the State Government. He was tasked with creating a plan for the future development of the metropolitan area of Perth and Fremantle, and then enlisted by UWA to create the campus plan.

 

Stephenson’s plan accommodated an expected increase to 8,000 student enrolments by the late 1980s. By way of comparison, there are now over 20,000 students enrolled at UWA!

#18

#19

 

Was smoking ever permitted in the Reid Library?

 

The 1964 Handbook for the Faculty of Arts and Education encouraged students to visit the new Reid Library, described the facilities and mentioned that smoking was permitted in the informal reading areas.

 

By 1965, smoking was no longer mentioned!

#19

#20

 

The smallest book in the Reid Library is held in Special Collections and is a copy of Dante’s Divina Commedia published in Milan in 1878. If you want to read it, you better have excellent eyesight or bring your own magnifying glass!

#20

#21

 

Presenting our largest book! Held in Special Collections, it’s a copy of Birds of America by John James Audubon and is as heavy as it looks!

#21

#22

 

The oldest book in the Reid Library is the Formulary of English Chancery writs in Latin (circa 1350). It is held in Special Collections and we think translating it could make an excellent PhD project for someone!

#22

#23

 

A dedicated library building had been identified as a priority as far back as 1936 by the University Librarian M. Evalyn Wood who acknowledged that ‘[The temporary library’s] principal fault, of course, is that it is too small in every way…….the matter has now become one of extreme urgency.’ The Reid Library was opened almost 20 years later!

 

The temporary library (as shown in the photo from 1949) was in the northern wing of what is now the Administration & Vice Chancellery building. By the 1960s, the collection had grown so large that the Winthrop Hall Undercroft was also in use.

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 5834P)

#23

#24

 

Architecturally speaking the Reid Library can be described as ‘late twentieth century Stripped Classical with its use of symmetry, strongly repetitive columns and carefully consider proportions…’ [from the Australian Heritage Database]

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 14226P)

#24

#25

 

When the Reid Library first opened in 1964 there was a loan limit of 3 books per reader. Undergraduates in 2014 can borrow up to 30 items and higher degree students and staff have unlimited loans!

#25

#26

 

Before the Course Materials Online system existed, students used to find all their course readings available as photocopies in the Reid Library. As can be seen from the photo, electronic access to book chapters and journal articles has certainly saved a lot of paper!

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 49624P)

#26

#27

 

In the early 1980s, Reid Library users could access the entire library catalogue on microfiche. When it was first introduced, the microfiche catalogue was celebrated due to its small size (around 495 pages of fiche), portability and the fact that you could read it on any standard microfiche reader. Library users could even purchase their own personal copy for $60!

#27

#28

 

The OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue) was introduced in 1987 and was the first time Reid Library users could search the library catalogue at a computer terminal rather than at a microfiche reader. A simple search for ‘Australian history’ could take up to 5 minutes to produce search results.

#28

#29

 

The introduction of the online catalogue revolutionised the way students searched for library materials and as a result, the Reid Library’s card catalogue was eventually dismantled in 1993.

#29

#30

 

Next time you’re passing the Reid Library, take a closer look at the moat. The ramps at each end of the moat were custom built so that the ducklings can climb out.

#30

#31

 

UWA Archives has unearthed a fascinating debate over Nazi propaganda in the Reid Library during the 1940s as part of their new ‘Stories from the Archives’ online exhibition. Head over to the Centenary archives and check it out.

#31

#32

 

In the 50 years since the Reid Library was built, the tree canopy in the Tropical Grove has grown so much that you can no longer see the Reid Library from the top of Winthrop Tower! You can only see the roof peeking through the trees!

#32

#33

 

Did you know that the Reid Library used to have a library cat? In the 90s, a small black cat called Cosmo used to visit Reid from a house near campus. The saucers of milk left out for him by library staff might have had something to do with his repeat visits!

 

(Pictured: Shim Pegg)

#33

#34

 

‘Appearing in entrance ways, basking beneath bridges or wedged into alleyways, the irresistible RedBall sneaks into well-known places and half-noticed spaces, transforming the City into an unexpected canvas of possibilities.’

 

This award-winning project from New York artist Kurt Perschke popped up in 15 locations around Perth and the Great Southern throughout the 2012 Perth Festival International Arts Festival, including a sneaky visit to the Reid Library in late February.

 

(Photo courtesy of Helen Balfour)

#34

#35

 

During the 2005 Reid Library refurbishments the male toilets on the ground floor were accidentally painted mauve due to a misreading of ‘orchard’ for ‘orchid’ when it came to paint colours.

#35

#36

 

In 2011 a senior library officer discovered three old dried leaves stuck between the pages of the 450-year-old Anglican “Great Bible” held in the Special Collections in the Reid Library.

#36

#37

 

The Tower of Reid? Check out this early rough sketch for a main library at UWA channelling the ‘many lofty buildings in America’. As you can see, the Reid Library could have had a tower to rival Winthrop Tower!

 

(Image Courtesy National Library of Australia, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32859532).

#37

#38

 

In 1978, ‘gang hooliganism’ ran rampant in the Reid Library. University Librarian Leonard Jolley explained in his annual report that students from one department in the University had taken over the Reid Library ‘just as criminals might take over a slum area in a town’. Tough measures had to be taken to maintain ‘reasonable order and quiet’ with a number of ‘trouble-makers’ being fined $20.

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 49635P)

#38

#39

 

The Reid Library almost didn’t have a coffee shop. The space now used by the Reid Library Cafe was originally intended to be an exhibition space. The Reid Library Cafe opened in the third week of May 1964 and a comment was made at the time that the students seemed to be ‘attracted in to the Library more by the Coffee Shop than by the books’.

#39

#40

 

The Reid Library and the Arts Building both opened in 1964. Each site had different architects but shared the same structural engineer. The two firms worked closely together to ensure the two buildings complemented each other and framed the Great Court.

 

(Image from UWA Archives, 3714P)

#40

#41

 

Student Services has been running study skills and essay writing drop in sessions in the Reid Library since 2005. These sessions have become so popular that they are now daily during teaching weeks and study breaks. STUDYSmarter Advisers have also now been joined by Librarians so you can get advice on study, writing, referencing and research in one place!

 

More information about WRITESmart is available at:

#41

#42

 

Have you ever looked closely at the Reid Library roof? The architect designed it specifically to look like a ‘broad brimmed hat’ with the Perth climate in mind. The wide 33ft overhang protects from both the sun and rain. The Vice Chancellor was particularly impressed with this design and you’ll notice there are a number of buildings on campus with ‘hat-like’ roofs.

#42

#43

 

The Reid Information Centre (RIC) was introduced in 2005. Students could get reference and research support from librarians in one office and then go next door to the Student Internet Support Office for help connecting their SNAP account. Upon seeing the new desk, one final year student commented that the new service point made it look like the librarians were ‘sitting at their counter like a 5 star hotel!’

 

Students can now receive student IT support at the information desk in all six subject libraries!

#43

#44

 

Jill Benn was recently announced as UWA’s sixth University Librarian. Jill is the first Australian-born University Librarian and the third woman in the role. You can find paintings of some of the previous University Librarians including M.E. Wood, Leonard Jolley, and Arthur Ellis in the Reid Library.

 

Congratulations Jill!

#44

#45

 

The Reid Library holds a special place in the hearts of many staff and students. Aside from being the place where many couples first met, the Reid has also seen its fair share of proposals and nuptials over the years!

 

This gorgeous couple stopped in for a photo in the Reid after their ceremony in the Sunken Gardens.

#45

#46

 

The UWA Friends of the Library held their inaugural meeting in Winthrop Hall on July 25th 1965. Later that year, Sir Walter Murdoch became the patron and they hosted their first talk with Mr G.G. Allen presenting on 'Old Books in a Modern Library'. Over the years, the Friends have been tireless supporters of the Library and have donated many rare and valuable items for Special Collections in the Reid Library.

(Photo by Belinda Ireland)

#46

#47

 

The Reid Library is on the City of Subiaco’s local inventory of places deemed to be of historical value to the area. It has also been recommended for State heritage listing by the City of Subiaco.

(Image Courtesy UWA Archives, 2559P)

#47

#48

 

When the interior of the EDFAA Library was destroyed by a flood in March 2010, many books were salvaged and taken across to the Reid Library to be dried out. EDFAA Library services operated out of the Reid Library until March 2012 when the EDFAA Library reopened.

#48

#49

 

Reid Library staff created an orientation film for library users in 1964. This was the first orientation video created by an Australian university library, and at the time, very few libraries worldwide had ventured into film

#50

 

Over the course of 2014, we’ve reached #50 and we’ve saved the best for last!!

Over the last 50 weeks we’ve been showing you the dramatic transformation that Reid has undergone since opening in 1964. We’re excited to announce that hopefully another transformation is just around the corner as the Ground Floor will be next in line for a makeover!!

We’d love to hear what you’d like to see on a new and improved Reid Ground Floor. Share your vision in the comments!

#50

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