Did you attend school in the mid to late 1960s in South Australia? Chances are you might remember the radio program ‘From the Library Shelf’ which was often played in classrooms around the country between 1965 and 1968.
To achieve our Deadline 2025 goal, the State Library’s Digitisation and Digital Preservation team has been busily digitising open reel magnetic audio tapes we have in the collection, including these radio plays, ready for long-term preservation and storage in our digital preservation system Preservica.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) produced these educational radio programs, especially for children, and many schools decided to include the program in their learning activities.
A typical program of ‘From the Library Shelf’ consisted of a radio play adapted from a literary work. Some programs included instructive commentary about the story and promoted the value of further reading.
The selection of programs that the State Library is currently digitising is exclusive to those produced in the Adelaide ABC studios, rather than interstate studios. These South Australian productions involved South Australian producers, narrators, and actors, although most are unfortunately not identified.
The radio programs have excellent radiophonic production, with music, sound effects, and voice acting. We don’t know much detail about who was involved, but some of the radio adaptations were written by South Australian authors Max Colwell and Michael Page.
We are sharing with you four radio programs that were adapted from classics to 1960s contemporary children's literature.
An anthology of science fiction stories chosen by Amabel Williams-Ellis and Mably Owen, recorded in Adelaide studios of the ABC on 31 October 1966.
Catalogue record: SLSA: OH513/004/01/F/Out of this world
This radio play was adapted from the classic novel written by Daniel Defoe in 1719, and recorded in Adelaide studios of the ABC on 21 April 1966.
Catalogue record: SLSA: OH513/004/01/F/Robinson Crusoe
Adapted from one of the 56 short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this radio play was recorded in the Adelaide studios of the ABC on 6 April 1966.
Catalogue record: SLSA: OH513/004/01/F/A case of identity
Based on the book written by Ester Wier in 1963. The recording is one of the few episodes that we have full production credits for and was produced by Geoffrey Barnes and performed by Jonathon Leigh, Judith Dick, Barbara West, Rita Street. Narrated by Don Barker and adapted for radio by Max Colwell. It was recorded in the Adelaide studios of the ABC on 4 October 1966.
Catalogue record: SLSA: OH513/004/01/F/The loner
If you know any details about the South Australian-produced programs of ‘From the Library Shelf’ or if you have a memory of the programs, we’d love to hear from you.
Written by the Digitisation and Digital Preservation Team