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The past, present and future of books, libraries and book collecting: a personal odyssey
Thursday 26 March


We invite you to an illustrated lecture by Colin Steele, Emeritus Fellow, Australian National University with an introduction by John Shipp, University Librarian, University of Sydney, 1997-2011.

Colin will reflect on “The past, present and future of books, libraries and book collecting” from over 50 years of experience, both from an institutional and personal perspective, and speculate on twenty-first century trends.

Major collections that Colin has assembled have been donated to several libraries. His Latin American collection is held by La Trobe University Library, his science fiction and fantasy collections by Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Sydney Library and his signed Australian literature collection is in the Australian National University Library. A small but significant collection of signed Australian political material is held in the Library of Old Parliament House, Canberra. His current personal collections include signed material covering politics, sport, film and television, and biography.

From his time in the Bodleian Library, Oxford and the ANU Library, Colin will recall some of the fascinating collectors and booksellers he has met and, from his current research on scholarly communication and publishing, will reflect on the changing nature of book collecting and libraries in a digital era.

For further reading see Colin’s article on the The Sydney Morning Herald:
Bibliographica 2014: Colin Steele presents talk on the future of books and articles on his website.

Time: 5.30pm–7pm
Where: Seminar Room
Level 2, Fisher Library F03
Eastern Avenue, Camperdown Campus
Cost: Free with registration required. Seats are limited.
RSVP by Monday 23 March
E | T 9114 0866



A Tale of Two Libraries: Lambeth Palace Library and Sion College Library in the 17th century
Guest speaker: Giles Mandelbrote, Librarian and Archivist, Lambeth Palace Library
Saturday 1 November 2014

Lambeth Palace Library

Two notable ecclesiastical libraries were founded in London in the early 17th century. Lambeth Palace Library was founded in 1610 as a resource for future Archbishops of Canterbury, while Sion College Library was established in 1629 as a library for the City of London clergy. This illustrated lecture will explore the reasons for these two foundations and the contrasting ways in which they developed during the first century of their existence. Since 1995, both of these collections have been housed at Lambeth Palace Library.

Giles Mandelbrote is the Librarian and Archivist of Lambeth Palace Library. He previously worked for nearly 15 years at the British Library as one of the curators responsible for the national collection of books printed in Britain during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He jointly convenes the Research Seminar in the History of Libraries at the School of Advanced Study, London University, teaches for the London Rare Book School and is one of the organisers of the annual two-day London conference on book trade history.

Among his publications are Out of Print & Into Profit: A history of the rare and second-hand book trade in Britain in the 20th century, and Volume II (1640-1850) of The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland, edited jointly with K.A. Manley. More recently he has edited and contributed to a volume on the growth of the British Library’s collections, Libraries within the Library: The Origins of the British Library’s Printed Collections (2009), and The Arcadian Library: Bindings and Provenance (2014).

Time: 3.30pm–5pm
Where: Exhibition Space
Level 2, Fisher Library F03
Eastern Avenue, Camperdown Campus
Cost: Free with registration requested
RSVP by Thursday 30 October
E | T 9114 0866

Contact: Jacqui Grainger, Manager, Rare Books and Special Collections T 9351 7283 | E

Photo: Lambeth Palace Library


Exhibition and Talk – Dylan Thomas: A literary life – centenary celebration
A talk by Professor William Christie, University of Sydney
Thursday 30 October 2014

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet and writer, was born on the 27 October 1914 and its centenary is celebrated by this event and an accompanying exhibition on Level 3, Fisher Library.

Dylan Thomas’s work was popular in his lifetime and its popularity has continued to grow. William Christie’s talk draws on his new book Dylan Thomas: A Literary Life which addresses the ‘yawning gap’ between Thomas’s popular and critical reputations.

William Christie is Professor of English Literature and Pro-Dean for Research in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and president of the Romantic Studies Association of Australia (RSSA). He is also Vice President of the Dylan Thomas Society of Australia. His many publications include Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Literary Life (2006), awarded the NSW Premier’s Biennial Prize for Literary Scholarship in 2008. Dylan Thomas: A Literary Life (2014) is published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Time: 5.30–7.30pm
Where: Exhibition Space, Level 2, Fisher Library
Cost: Free with booking required
RSVP by Monday 27 October
Light refreshments provided
E | T 9114 0866


53rd Annual General Meeting
When: Tuesday 26 August 2014, 5.30-6pm
Where: Exhibition Space Meeting Room 219, Level 2 Fisher North, Fisher Library

Dr Huw Griffiths

The AGM will be followed with a talk by guest speaker Dr Huw Griffiths, Faculty of Arts and Social Science
Adapting Shakespeare and His Contemporaries in the Eighteenth Century

Restoration and eighteenth-century adaptations of the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries have not often been taken terribly seriously. But they emerge from a dynamic theatre culture and the decisions they make to alter details from the original can often be very telling. Dr Griffiths’ interest lies in the way that representations of male friendship change from one period to the next. Looking at adaptations provides us with a fascinating insight into how later periods viewed and understood the values and mores of their predecessors.

Dr Huw Griffiths teaches in the Department of English. His research interests lie in sixteenth and seventeenth-century English literature and culture, with a focus on Shakespearean drama.

When: 6-7pm Tuesday 26 August 2014
Where: Seminar Room, Level 2 Fisher Library
Cost: Free with booking required
RSVP: by Thursday 21 August 2014
T 9114 0866


Poetry reading by Les Murray AO (video recording added below)
with introductions by Anne Bell, University Librarian and Sue Butler, Editor, The Macquarie Dictionary
Tuesday 29 April

Les Murray

We are delighted to welcome Les Murray back to Fisher Library for readings from his collections of poetry.

Les is engaged at the moment reading the proofs of the American edition of his Collected Works, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He says that the most he has to do is put in a comma that he should have put in years ago. Unlike Oscar Wilde who had the reverse difficulty – he struggled all morning taking a comma out and then in the afternoon put it back in again – Les thinks that the comma should always have been there, so as the afternoon wears on he will still leave it in. He agrees with Wilde however in general principle. A Murray dictum is: “When a book has reached this stage you do as little as possible because you will just end up ‘over-egging the pudding’.”

Les is heading off in May for a reading tour of Germany accompanied by his Swedish translator. He reads the English and she reads the German – although occasionally they swap. Her English has an American accent and Les’s German, according to one of his listeners, has improved. Then he presses on for more readings in London.

Les will read some old favourites and a number of new poems from a book in the making.

All are invited to attend this free event and light refreshments will be provided. This is a popular event and seats are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

When: Tuesday 29 April 2014
Time: 5.30 for 6pm
Where: Exhibition Space, Level 2 Fisher Library
Cost: Free with booking required
RSVP: by Thursday 24 April 2014
T 9114 0866

Les Murray AO, Tuesday 29 April 2014 at Fisher Library


Annual General Meeting
When: Wednesday 25 September, 5.30 to 6.00pm
Where: Meeting Room, former Rare Books Library
Level 2 Fisher North, Fisher Library

RSVP: by Monday 23 September 2013
T 02 9114 0866 or E

The AGM is followed at 6pm by a guided tour of:
Sense and Sensibilities: history of the neurosciences
By Dr Cate Storey, President, Medical Alumni Association
Following the 2013 AGM Dr Cate Storey will take us on a guided tour of the history of neurosciences exhibition.


The brain must surely be the most fascinating of all human organs. The early anatomists first explored its secrets; the physiologists began to investigate its pathways; the clinicians made clinic-pathological connections but we still have much to learn. This display includes many of the original works of the 14th to 19th centuries, which laid the foundations of our current knowledge of the neurosciences.
Refreshments will be served.
TIME: 6pm – 7pm Wednesday 25 September 2013
WHERE: Exhibition Space, Level 2, Fisher North, Fisher Library
RSVP: by Monday 23 September 2013
T 02 9114 0866 or E


Governor Brisbane's Parramatta Observatory:
archaeology, artefacts, and his Catalogue of Stars

an illustrated presentation by Anne Bickford, historical archaeologist
Wednesday 14 August 2013

Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, Governor of NSW from 1821 to 1825 was a highly decorated veteran of the Peninsula War and had served under Wellington in France. He was also a well known Scottish gentleman of science – an amateur astronomer with his own observatory on his estate in Scotland. One of the reasons he wanted the post of Governor of New South Wales was for the opportunity to observe the fabled Southern Stars. He arrived in Sydney with his own plan for the observatory, his private collection of stargazing instruments, hundreds of astronomy books, and two observatory assistants. The observatory he built stood in Parramatta Park on the hill behind Old Government House so that he could walk up and observe the stars each night. Back in England, Brisbane published his Catalogue of Stars. When the observatory was demolished in 1847 the transit circle stone supports were left standing. Their conservation was the reason for the archaeological excavation of the site in 2009.

Join us to celebrate National Science Week with Anne Bickford to hear about the universally famous Parramatta Observatory.

Time: 6-7.30pm
Where: Seminar Room, Level 2, Fisher Library
Eastern Ave, Camperdown Campus
Speaker: Anne Bickford is an alumna of the University of Sydney and a professional archeologist who has spoken and published widely on historical archaeology, heritage conservation and museum studies. She was Curator of Applied Arts at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (now The Powerhouse Museum). Anne also project managed and directed the research and excavation of the First Government House Site in Sydney, the largest archaeological excavation in Australia.
Price: Free
RSVP: by Friday 9 August
Email: or phone 9114 0866.
Photo: Sandstone piers, which supported the transit circle instrument in the observatory for viewing the stars, still standing in Parramatta Park. Photo by Anne Bickford.

Poetry reading by Judith Beveridge and Les Murray
Tuesday 18 June 2013


Judith Beveridge and Les Murray return to Fisher Library for readings from their collections of poetry.

Judith, poet, editor and teacher of poetry writing at the University of Sydney will read from her forthcoming book, Devadatta's Poems. This book is based on the historical figure of Devadatta who was a cousin to the Buddha. He joined the Buddhist Order but became jealous and ambitious and tried to murder the Buddha three times. The book follows Devadatta's time as a monk when he plotted to kill the Buddha and take over the Buddhist Order.

Les, appointed as a visiting Professor to the University of Sydney in 2008, will read from his book The Best 100 Poems of Les Murray published in 2012 by Black Inc. From his life’s work so far, spanning more than four decades, Les Murray has selected these 100 poems, his personal best, including classics such as 'The Broad Bean Sermon', 'An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow' and 'The Dream of Wearing Shorts Forever'. He will top this up with some recent poems.

All are invited to attend this free event and afternoon tea will be provided. This is a popular event and seats are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

Time: 3-4.30pm
Where: Seminar Room, Level 2, Fisher Library
RSVP: by Thursday 13 June
Email: or phone 9114 0866.


Hands on Manuscripts: An Introduction to the Spanish Liturgical Music Manuscript Collection
Wednesday 31 October

Since the Friends of the Library have played an integral part in the building of this collection you are invited to an informal session in which these manuscripts will be introduced. The manuscripts date from the thirteenth to the late eighteenth centuries, with the bulk of them dated from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

You will get an opportunity to take a private guided tour through the collection, to learn a little about them, to touch them and to ask questions about them. You do not need a knowledge of music to appreciate these treasures from a bygone era, but you might be surprised at how much we can learn from them.

These manuscripts are currently being studied by an international group of scholars led by Dr Jane Morlet Hardie at the Medieval and Early Modern Centre.

Numbers are limited, as this session will take place in the Rare Book Room, so please book early.

Speaker: Dr Jane Hardie, The Medieval and Early Modern Centre
Time: 5.30 to 6.30pm followed by light refreshments
Where: Rare Book Library, Level 1, Fisher Library
RSVP: by Friday 26 October
Email: or phone 9114 0866.

Ern Malley as Vampire
Tuesday 2 October

For a poet who never existed, Ern Malley is not only still very much alive, but seems to gather strength as the years go by. What are the sources of his power?

Associate Professor David G Brooks will speak on the tangled web of literary hoaxes and some fascinating discoveries he has made about the poet Ern Malley.

The poetry of Ern Malley is the most famous literary hoax perpetrated in Australia. It was dreamed up by two brilliant young men with strong associations to the University of Sydney. Their hoax devastated the career of another brilliant man, also a poet, and brought on obscenity charges which hit world news. The story continues to fascinate and resonate in unexpected ways. Was it totally serendipitous that links to other poets and events are still surfacing?

David Brooks is a successful poet and author. He teaches Australian Literature in the English Department at the University of Sydney and co-edits the journal Southerly. Over his career he has come across connections that continue to surface around the Ern Malley hoax, a wide group of people, the poetry itself and even more unexpected links to France. The result was an acclaimed book, The Sons of Clovis, and large audiences at this year's Sydney Writers' Festival.

Time: 6pm–7pm
Light refreshments from 5.30pm
Where: Seminar Room, Level 2, Fisher Library
Cost: Free event but registration required
RSVP: by Friday, 28 September
Email: or phone 9114 0866.

The Hanging Garden and beyond: Exploring Patrick White's manuscripts
The recent publication of Patrick White's novel The Hanging Garden was made possible by the work of University of Sydney researchers who transcribed the work from manuscript in the National Library of Australia. Professors Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Webby, together with research assistant Jennifer Moore, will talk about their Australian Research Council project on the Patrick White manuscripts acquired by the NLA in 2006, demonstrating ways in which this material freshly illuminates White's career.

Event details
When: Wednesday, 6 June
Time: 6pm–7.30pm
Where: Foyer (level 2), Eastern Avenue, Sydney Law School, Camperdown Campus
Cost: Free event but registration required (see below)
RSVP: or phone 9114 0866.

Annual General Meeting
When: Wednesday 29 August, 5.30 to 6.00pm
Where: Meeting Room, former Rare Books Library
Level 2 Fisher Library
Followed by talks at 6pm
Speakers: Anne Bell, University Librarian and Dr Neil Radford, University Librarian 1980-96
Where: New Function Room, Level 2, Fisher Library
RSVP: by Friday 24 August
Email: or phone 9114 0866


The Friends of the University Library talk about the books they especially cherish.

A talk by Paul Giles
Before coming to the University of Sydney's Challis Chair of English in 2010, Paul Giles was Professor of American Literature at the University of Oxford and, before that, University Lecturer in American Literature at the University of Cambridge. Born in London in 1957, he also lived for seven years in Portland, Oregon, where he taught at Portland State University and at Reed College, and he later served (between 2005 and 2007) as President of the International American Studies Association.  He is the author of seven books: Hart Crane (1986); American Catholic Arts and Fictions (1992); Transatlantic Insurrections (2001); Virtual Americas (2002); Atlantic Republic (2006), and Transnationalism in Practice (2010). The most recent, The Global Remapping of American Literature, has just been published by Princeton University Press.

His My Books talk will touch on a range of topics, including the scholarship of A. J. A. Waldock, one of his predecessors in the Chair of English at Sydney, and his book James, Joyce and others (London: Williams & Norgate, 1937).  This was published at a time when Joyce’s Ulysses was banned in Australia, and until now Waldock’s pioneering work has never been held in the Fisher Library.
When: Thursday 22 September
5.30pm for 6.00pm
Where: Victoria Park Room, Lvl 5 Fisher Library
Eastern Ave, Camperdown Campus
RSVP: by Monday 19 September

The fossil record of seven decades of undisciplined reading
Speaker: Yvonne Cossart, Emeritus Professor of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, University of Sydney
When: Wednesday 15 June
5.30pm for 6.00pm
Where: Victoria Park Room, Lvl 5 Fisher Library
Eastern Ave, Camperdown Campus
RSVP: by Friday 10 June

Campus Novels: Fiction or Reality?
Speaker: Kate Sexton, former Associate Librarian, University of Sydney
When: Thursday 14 April
5.30pm for 6.00pm
Where: Victoria Park Room, Lvl 5 Fisher Library
Eastern Ave, Camperdown Campus
RSVP: by Monday 11 April

50th Annual General Meeting
When: Thursday 21 July, 5.30 to 6.00pm
The Boardroom, Administration Office
Level 5 Fisher Library
followed by a talk at 6pm
Speaker: John Shipp, University Librarian
Where: Victoria Park Room, Level 5 Fisher Library
Cost: Free but registration required as space is limited.
RSVP: by Monday 18 July

Past Functions and Talks

Other University of Sydney Events

University of Sydney News and Events calendar
Details of events on campus for staff, students and members of the community.

Faculty of Arts News and Events
Includes information about University of Sydney Alumni Association (SUAA) events.

Alumni, Community and Schools
Information for University of Sydney alumni and community members.