Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Library News 2011-2012

The Daniel Solander Library has had great fortune in the last year receiving funding for special projects and generous private donations.

Bicentenary Library Project:

The Bicentenary Library Project has been funded by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF). Stages 1&2 of the proposed 3 stage digitisation project which commenced in May 2012 have neared completion. 

Garden historian Colleen Morris has assessed the Library’s heritage collections for digitisation candidates; this process has unearthed many treasures Library staff were unaware of, or did not recognise their significance.

Andrew Long, formerly of the National Library of Australia, is scoping Stage 3 and preparing the final funding submission. Stage 3 will involve the digitisation of documents and 134 years of catalogue cards (including unique journal indexing) as well as the development of web sites exploring aspects of the Garden’s history and biographic profiles of people, such as former director J.H. Maiden and botanical illustrator Margaret Flockton. Janet Heywood and Morgan Gregory provided support to the project and undertook important infrastructure work.

This transformative project has the potential to change the culture and set the future course of the Library.

Conservation Project

Alistair Hay donated $20,000 for the conservation of rare books. This generous donation has allowed the Library to have 98 volumes restored by Newbold & Collins. This includes 50 volumes of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.

The rare book collection has been an active working library and is now showing wear from many decades of heavy use. Nearly all of the volumes restored had detached boards and spines, and with some it was hard to imagine they were salvageable. 

This exciting project guarantees they will see many centuries of use.

Rare Book Cataloguing Project

This project is providing public access to knowledge about our rare book collection for the first time. Donor funds have allowed us to create specialist cataloguing records for 30% of the collection. Funds to continue the project are being sought.

Australian Garden History, the journal of the Australian Garden History Society, published an article on marginalia re-discovered in the Library’s Rare Book collection (v.23 no.5 2012). From William Guilfoyle’s personal library, accessioned into the Library in 1908, this bound volume of Ferdinand von Mueller’s lectures includes author inscriptions and Guilfoyle’s own comments. It is the first published account of the historical information being unearthed from this important collection.

Donation to the Rare Book Collection

A donation of $10,000 for the purchase of historical works was made by the family of Lois Stewart in memory of her close relationship with the Library over many years as an invaluable volunteer.

Florilegium Society

New works have been donated to the collection of stunning artworks of the Florilegium Society Collection. The Society has extended its membership to include overseas artists.

Other achievements

  • Volunteer John Pearce continues to interview people for the Oral History Collection. 
  • Evelyn Shervington continues to document the Photographic Collection and Elizabeth Thilo is documenting the various artwork collections. Denise Walker has provided ongoing support, especially book collection end-processing and repair.


The State Library of New South Wales donated a considerable collection of gardening books from the library of Diana Pockley. Warren Glover donated many books, journals and ephemera from his collections on bulbs, orchids and succulents.    





The VFFF Bicentenary Library Project team, L to R: Andrew Long, Janet Heywood, Colleen Morris & Morgan Gregory. Photo: Judy Blood

BEFORE - a sample of the state of some of our rare books. Photo:J Blood

AFTER - Curtis’s Botanical Magazine restored. Photo: Dale Dixon