Student press collections in Australian university libraries and archives

Jessie Lymn, Tamara Jones

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only


Student press publications (i.e. student newspapers) have a long history across Australian university campuses of reflecting contemporary social and political issues, often reflecting a sentiment not represented in mainstream media publications (Percival-Wood, 2017). Student newspapers have a demonstrated engagement with radical thinking, dissent and political activism and are an important published record of historical discourses, contributing to a critically informed understanding of the society they were produced in (see for example Crane & Lesher 2018; Rodgers 2010; Barcan, 2011). This paper reports on a project designed to highlight the value of the student press produced on university campuses in contributing to Australia’s socio-political history through an examination of the publications held in library and archival collections, and the impact of the collections on access to the records. While many Universities in Australia hold some collections of their student press, there is little to no consistency in how these publications are held. For example, in some instances the University Archives holds the collection, whereas in others they sit within the University Library. Additionally, very little descriptive work has been undertaken on these collections. The contents of student press is also often contentious, libellous and possibly illegal (Huntley, 1998), and raises challenges in acquisition and access. A detailed data survey of all 39 University Library holdings of student publications was undertaken through catalogue searches and archival requests. The results of this survey will be presented in this paper, along with an analysis of the depth and breadth of holdings, the descriptive elements of the collections, and the variety of access interfaces to the collections. Findings from the survey and analysis will inform current and future student press collection practices by University libraries and archives, including building ongoing relationships with editorial teams, and recommend improvements for access to this primary source material for future researchers. References Barcan, A. (2011). From new left to factional left: Fifty years of student activism at Sydney University. North Melbourne, Vic: Australian Scholarly Publishing. Crane, J. J., & Lesher, M. (2018). Beyond the Campus. Journalism History; Athens, 44(2), 101–108. Huntley, R. (1998) "Rabelais Goes to Canberra" CLC Communication Update 148. p.20-1. Percival Wood, S. (2017) Dissent: The Student Press in 1960s Australia. Melbourne: Scribe. Rodgers, J. (2010). ‘Live your liberation – don’t lobby for it’: Australian queer student activists’ perspectives of same-sex marriage. Continuum, 24(4), 601–617.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2019
EventResearch Applications in Information and Library Studies (RAILS) - Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture and St Mark’s National Theological Centre, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 28 Oct 201929 Oct 2019


ConferenceResearch Applications in Information and Library Studies (RAILS)
Abbreviated titleTowards critical information research, education and practice
OtherRAILS is the Australasian conference on Research Applications in Information and Library Studies, the main gathering in Australasia for academic and practitioner researchers and educators in information studies and related disciplines, including librarianship, archival science, and social and community informatics. RAILS has been held annually since 2004. The 15th RAILS conference will be hosted by the School of Information Studies of Charles Sturt University and held at CSU’s Canberra Campus from 28-29 October 2019. The conference will also incorporate the Australasian Information Educators’ Symposium (AIES) 2019.
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