State Library of South Australia

Friends of SLSA

The Friends of SLSA have been very active during the first half of 2014.

Visit to Walkerville Library

The facilities, collection and philosophy of the library in the new Walkerville Civic Centre was of great interest to members of the Friends of SLSA, who visited it in late February. We
saw at first-hand the workings of the Libraries Board one card system, and learned about the principles that underpin library planning and design in the 21st century.

SLSA Director Alan Smith  Governor of SA  Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce  Friends President Elizabeth Hambly and French Ambassador to Australia M Stephane Romatet   at the launch of French Designs on Colonial New South Wales
SLSA Director Alan Smith, Gov. of SA Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, Friends President Elizabeth Hambly and French Ambassador to Australia M Stéphane Romatet at the launch of French Designs on Colonial New South Wales

Visit to the David Roche Foundation

Such was the level of interest that the Friends made two visits to the David Roche Foundation during March, to view the exhibition Flora: motifs from nature, which showcased china, paintings and other treasures from the collection. Friends were fortunate to be guided around the exhibition by Curator, Martyn Cook, and Manager, Ann Preston Flint.

Baudin-Flinders breakfast

On Friday 4 April, just before dawn, more than 150 people gathered at either side of a very long table in Lipson Street, Port Adelaide, for a breakfast to mark the anniversary of the breakfast that Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin shared on 9 April 1802. The event kicked off the Adelaide Food and Wine Festival. A number of the Friends of SLSA were there, taking with them copies of Friends' publications of Flinders' and Baudin's journals and volume II of Péron's Voyage to the Southern Lands, in which the 'encounter' and the breakfast on the following day are briefly mentioned.

Although no details of the original breakfast were recorded, chef David Swain of Fino restaurant created a meal based on items which the mariners may have been able to eat: French bread (the French expedition had a baker on board); tommy ruffs with dried oats and samphire; kangaroo sausages with sauerkraut and French lentils; all washed down with scurvy-defeating orange and lime juice.

Book launches

His Excellency, M. Stéphane Romatet, French Ambassador to Australia, launched French Designs on Colonial New South Wales, Fran ois Péron's report on the colony of New South Wales during the visit of Baudin's expedition 1802, intended to inform Napoleon's government that it would be easy to invade this successful settlement and claim it as a French possession. Péron's mémoire was transcribed and translated by Adelaide University Professors Jean Fornasiero and John West-Sooby, who also wrote the excellent introduction. Friends' Patron, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR, Governor of South Australia, attended, and was warmly thanked for his service as our Patron throughout his term of office, which will end in mid-2014. The launch took place on 8 April, the anniversary of the meeting between Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin, on whose expedition, Péron was a zoologist. The Friends are very grateful to the Alliance Fran aise d'Adela de for its help in ensuring the Ambassador's involvement.

French Designs on Colonial New South Wales had a second launch on Friday 11 April at the Mitchell Library at the State Library of NSW, which was a sponsor of the publication. Historian Robert J King, who wrote the foreword for the publication, gave a scholarly introduction to the political context in which Péron's work sits, before launching the book. A gathering of some 50 people, including representatives of the French Consulate and Alliance Fran aise in Sydney, as well as NSW-based regular buyers of our books, academic colleagues of the translators, and some Friends of the Mitchell Library attended.

Mark Gilbert presented a sponsor's copy of the publication to Mitchell Librarian, Richard Neville, who hosted the event. The State Library of South Australia will receive a similar sponsors' copy - leather-bound, in a hand-made slip case, with a fore-edge painting of a scene from the book by SA artist Stephen Bowers.

Deluxe, standard, hardback and paperback copies of French designs, as well as greeting cards using Stephen Bowers' exquisite endpaper design, are on sale at the Friends' office in the Institute Building or online through the website


The next publication from the Friends will be Camp jottings, the notebooks of Francis Gillen written during his 1902-03 expedition through Central Australia with anthropologist Baldwin Spencer. The publication presents a transcription of Gillen's hand-written notebooks, which are held in the State Library, retaining all his pen and pencil illustrations, and supplemented by an introduction and notes by Dr Philip Jones, and numerous rare photographs from the collections of the SA Museum.

Great libraries of the world

Curator and tour leader Kenneth Park gave an illustrated talk to the Friends of SLSA and other interested people about great libraries of the world. This fascinating survey covered libraries ranging from the very ancient, to the sumptuously decorated baroque, to the ultra-modern. Attendees enjoyed pre-talk drinks in the beautiful Circulating Library.

Wednesdays at One

On the first Wednesday of most months of the year, the Friends host Books in my life, talks by interesting South Australians about books that have been significant for them. Speakers have looked at books from the viewpoint of readers, writers, editors, collectors and more. This year's speakers have included Mawson enthusiast Don Howell, Jack Cross AM, educator and author of Great Central State, Robyn Layton AO QC, distinguished lawyer and judge, and broadcaster Ian Henschke.

Gifts to the State Library

The Friends have so far this year donated to the Library an early ambrotype of Corporal William Hill of the First Adelaide Rifles (ca 1861), and have agreed to provide funding for three photographs from the Beatles' 1964 tour of Australia, which were recently purchased at auction in Melbourne.

It's clear that the Friends are a lively group of people, with a range of interesting activities and an admirable purpose - supporting the State Library. New members are always welcome. Phone 8207 7255; email;

Story by: Rosemary Luke

Back to e-xtra 2014 - Winter stories

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