Tuesday, 28 March 2017

An interesting discovery

Working in a library is fun. On any ordinary day staff working in RMIT University Library are likely to discover a great new book or an amazing DVD, but sometimes we even uncover history! Sam Gibbard, our Metadata Standards Librarian, shares his story of the day he uncovered one of the forgotten collections of our Library.

Last year, while clearing out a storage room in Swanston Library, Sam came across several dusty boxes. The contents were described as "Herald-Sun donations", but upon opening, it was discovered almost all of the books were inscribed by former chairman of the Herald group, and prominent journalist Sir Keith Murdoch, the founder of News Limited (News Corp Australia) and father of business magnate and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

The Keith Murdoch Collection

Sir Keith Murdoch is a fascinating figure in Australian history, and his formative experiences abroad as a reporter and war correspondent had a profound effect on his later life. While visiting troops in Gallipoli in 1915, he wrote his famed "Gallipoli letter" expressing grave concerns about the situation there. It is widely credited with helping force the evacuation of Australian troops in December that year. 

We like to imagine this small collection of 40 books represents an insight into the early reading choices of a future newspaper tycoon. Titles from the collection, such as "The Truth behind the News" and "The Street of Ink" are a reminder of the old world of print journalism as Sir Keith Murdoch might have experienced it. And provide a vast contrast to the much different landscape his son's giant media empire now occupies.

So next time you are passing the Library, why not wander in - you never know what you might discover! An itemised listing of the Keith Murdoch Collection can be browsed as a collection here. The collection is supplemented with a few biographies of Sir Keith Murdoch, as well as a commemorative book produced by the Herald staff in 1952 (the year he died) and the auction catalogue from the sale of his art collection and household effects the following year. 

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