The Establishment of the Library of the Supreme Court of Victoria, 1851-1884: Antecedents, Foundation and Legacy

Sue Reynolds

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis examines the first three decades of the Library of the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, from 1851 to 1884. It also discusses historical, cultural and political influences on, and the personalities involved with, the Library's establishment and development. Following an Introduction, the antecedents for and influences on the Library are presented. The impetuses for establishing a library for the legal profession in the Colony of Victoria are discerned from examining similar libraries in Dublin and London. The influences on the Library's formation and activities were transmitted by emigrants to the colonies and by one man in particular, Redmond Barry, a young Irish barrister who arrived in the New South Wales District of Port Phillip in 1839. Separation from New South Wales in 1851 provided Redmond Barry with the opportunity to occupy positions of power and influence and, combined with prodigious personal energy and ambition, enabled him to drive the foundation of most, if not all, of the cultural institutions in the colony of Victoria, including its premier libraries: the Melbourne Public Library, the Parliamentary Library, the library of the University of Melbourne and the Supreme Court Library. The major part of the thesis is a thematic, episodic narrative discussing the library's planning, foundation, development, and consolidation as the pre-eminent law library in the Colony. The narrative chapters each deal with a different aspect of the Library's development. The first narrative chapter describes the founding of the Library. No definitive date for the establishment of the Library can be ascertained, but the idea of and planning for a library for practising members of the legal profession began with the Separation of the District of Port Phillip from the Colony of New South Wales to become the independent Colony of Victoria.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Harvey, Bertrand, Co-Supervisor
  • Kennedy, John, Co-Supervisor
  • Ferguson, Keith, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Dec 2008
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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