New Indigenous culture books

by Kate C
Publish date
7 November 2011
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Each year, the MV library develops a particular area of the book collection. This year it's the Indigenous section receiving attention, which will assist the team working on the redevelopment of Bunjilaka and the researchers of the Indigenous Cultures Department. Over 50 books, many of them out-of-print and very rare, were purchased from Grants Bookshop for an average price of less than a modern day paperback. With increasing costs for interlibrary loans, purchasing our own copies for MV makes sound financial sense, too.

Display of new Indigenous culture books Display in the MV Library of the newly-aquired books about Indigenous culture and history.
Source: Museum Victoria

Research associate Jason Gibson talked about the nature of these books, some of which date back to the 1940s. "They often take a classical anthropological perspective, that you don't see much of any more. There were problems with this approach but in terms of the detail captured, it's fantastic." He explained that these books were largely written by non-Indigenous anthropologists attempting an objective, scientific analysis of Indigenous people. "It was often the first time Indigenous languages, traditions and cultural practices had been documented in written form and therefore these texts have become very important for Native Title research as well as museum studies."

Librarian Leonie Cash laments the closure of many of Melbourne's second-hand bookshops that makes these books even harder to obtain. Even now when books are becoming available in electronic form, physical books are still popular for researchers who spend much of their day looking at a computer screen and would prefer to read from paper.

Jason, Emma and Rose with new books L-R: Jason Gibson, Hayley Webster and Rose Bollen looking at the new books.
Source: Museum Victoria

The books are on display in the MV Library for staff to peruse and borrow. Of particular interest is the acquisition of the first edition of an American Philosophical Society publication of 1941 Aboriginal Australian String Figures, including string figure illustrations of the bandicoot, python, boomerang, and canoe.


Indigenous Cultures collections

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.