Library bookends a century

It was fitting to come dressed for the occasion. To mark 100 years of Federation’s Library, immediate past General Secretary John Dixon donated his “Dash jacket” (or should that be “Dashing jacket”) to the Federation collection.

The jacket had been made for John by Julieann Marino in 2018, the year of Federation’s centenary, and features the images of Ebenezer Dash, the Federation’s second President, and Margaret Miller, twice elected unopposed as President of the Infants’ Mistresses’ Association.

Both were featured on Federation’s Centenary Banner made for the 2018 celebrations, when the grandsons of Ebenezer Dash also transferred an archive of his artefacts to the library. These artefacts featured in a display at last week’s opening of the library’s centenary exhibition.

Federation celebrated 100 years of the library at a special Friday Forum at its Surry Hills headquarters on 18 February, with an exhibition highlighting the library’s colourful history.

Federation Librarian Mary Schmidt informed the gathering of the library’s many roles in Federation’s history.

“The library has an established role in supporting the union’s campaigning for better salaries, improved employment conditions for members, for equity, and in supporting the professional learning of members, and an emerging role in preserving the union’s cultural heritage artefacts,” she said.

“But how did this come about? A bit of luck, the dedication of many, and sustained support from the union.”

Set across two levels of Federation House, the exhibition features the Dash Archive and collections incorporated in a “Treasure Map” of library artefacts.

Federation’s Library grew from a small collection ferried around the regions in a horse-drawn carriage by Goulburn school inspector David Cooper in the 1890s to the thoroughly modern resource that teachers across the state rely on today.

Along the way the library has come into possession of some remarkable pieces: an example of a “little red book” of Chairman Mao Tsetung’s writings, a copy of The Teacher’s Treasury edited by Enid Blyton as well as a record of Federation’s move to Sussex Street in 1967 by famous photographer Max Dupain.

Mr Cooper’s personal library formed the foundation collection of the union’s library, officially opened on 24 February, 1922, at the Federation Rooms, 12 O’Connell Street, Sydney.

The Cooper family donated his books in 1910 to the NSW Public School Teachers’ Association, a founding Association of present-day Federation, which was proclaimed in 1918.

Federation has continued to build on this collection ever since, with its online catalogue Libero enabling members across the state to search its resources, make requests for material to be posted to them, and suggest new resources for purchase.