WARRNAMBOOL PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute (WMI) was formed by a voluntary community group in 1863, within six years of Warrnambool’s beginnings, and it's Reading Room opened in 1854. The WMI operated until 1963, at which time it was one of the oldest Mechanics’ Institutes in Victoria.
Mechanics’ Institutes offered important services to the public including libraries, reading rooms and places to display and store collections of all sorts such as curiosities and local historical relics. In 1886 a Museum and Fine Arts Gallery were added to the WMI and by the beginning of the 20th century, there was also a billiards room and a School of Art. By this time all Mechanics’ Institutes in country Victoria had museums attached.
Over the years the Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute Library was also known as the Warrnambool Public Library the Warrnambool Library and the Free Library. Early funding from the government was for the “Free Library”. The inscription in a book “Science of Man” was for the “Warrnambool Public Library”, donated by Joseph Archibald in 1899. Another inscription in the book “Catalogue of Plants Under Cultivation in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens 1 & 2, 1883” was presented to the “Warrnambool Library” and signed by the author W.R. Guilfoyle.
In 1903 the Warrnambool Public Library decided to add a Juvenile Department to library and stock it with hundreds of books suitable for youth. In 1905 the Public Library committee decided to update the collection of books and added 100 new novels plus arrangements for the latest novels to be included as soon as they were available in Victoria.
In July 1911 the Warrnambool Council took over the management of the Public Library, Art Gallery, Museum and Mechanics’ Institute and planned to double the size of the then-current building.
In 1953, when Mr R. Pattison was Public Librarian, the Warrnambool Public Library’s senior section 10,000 of the 13,000 books were fiction. The children’s section offered an additional 3,400 books. The library had the equivalent of one book per head of population and served around 33 per cent of the reading population. The collection of books was made up of around 60 per cent reference and 40 per cent fiction. The library was lending 400 books per day.
In 1963 the Warrnambool City Council allocated the site of the Mechanics’ Institute building, which included the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery, for the new Municipal Offices and the Collections were dispersed until 1971. The Warrnambool Library took over the Mechanics’ Institute Library’s holdings on behalf of the Warrnambool City Council.
Since the closure of the Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute, the exact location and composition of the original WMI books and items has become unclear. Other materials have been added to the collection, including items from Terang MI, Warrnambool Court House and Customs House.
Many of the books have been identified as the Pattison Collection, named after the Librarian who catalogued and numbered the books during his time as Warrnambool Public Librarian in the time before the Mechanics’ Institute closed.
It seems that when Warrnambool became part of the Corangamite Regional Library some of the books and materials went to its head office in Colac and then back to Warrnambool where they were stored at the Art Gallery for quite some time. Some then went to the Warrnambool Historical Society, some stayed at the Art Gallery and some were moved to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. The various stamps and labels on the books held at Flagstaff Hill show the variety of the collection’s distribution and origin.
The books in the collection at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village date from the 1850’s to the late 1950s and include rare and valuable volumes. Many of the books are part of the “Pattison Collection” after the Warrnambool’s Public Librarian, Mr R. Pattison.
The first full-length study of the extraordinary life-story of Edward John Eyre.
Author: Malcolm Uren
Historical research worker Robert Stephens
Publisher: Robertson & Mullens
Inscriptions & markings
The label on spine cover has typed text R.A. 923.9 URE
Pastedown front endpaper has a sticker from Warrnambool Public Library
- flagstaff hill,
- shipwrecked coast,
- flagstaff hill maritime museum,
- maritime museum,
- shipwreck coast,
- flagstaff hill maritime village,
- great ocean road,
- warrnambool library,
- warrnambool mechanics’ institute,
- mechanics’ institute library,
- victorian library board,
- warrnambool books and records,
- warrnambool children’s library,
- warrnambool public library,
- waterless horizons,
- edward john eyre,
- malcolm uren,
- robert stephens
- Edward John Eyre Edward John Eyre and his aboriginal companion Wylie are famous for their do or die attempt to explore the Nullarbor in the summer of 1840-41.
- Edward John Eyre David Reilly's - Australian Explorers, the story of Edward John Eyre