Blue Mountains library makes old treasures searchable

So much available as old records go digital: Leisa Radford, the Upper Mountains Library Coordinator checks out some audio files at the library in Katoomba.
So much available as old records go digital: Leisa Radford, the Upper Mountains Library Coordinator checks out some audio files at the library in Katoomba.

When is a library catalogue more than just a catalogue? Blue Mountains Library has recently answered this question by making some of its most historically intriguing and valuable items “digitally discoverable” at the fingertips of users.

The catalogue which is now embedded directly into the library’s website, links to nearly 5,000 digitised items including photographs, oral histories, postcards, fact sheets and other miscellaneous items about the Blue Mountains and the area’s rich history.

The collection includes 105 oral history interviews that have not been publicly heard since they were recorded in the early 1980s.

But what exactly does this mean for users? A simple catalogue search can now be a journey of discovery for local people, places and events and brings Mountains history alive through pictures, photographs and recorded interviews.

For example a search for local, historical identity, John Yeaman – Blue Mountains Council’s first city engineer, yields more than 40 items. From photos to a 1984 interview originally recorded on cassette tape. Search for The Hermit of Hat Hill, The Hydro Majestic or The Blue Gum Forest and a wealth of interesting images and information is immediately brought to life.

A council spokeswoman said the wonder of new cataloguing technologies is the ability to share and provide equitable access to history for everyone. 

State Library of NSW funding and a commitment to honour undertakings given to oral history interviewees at the time of recording were the catalysts for library staff to bring alive the stories and other treasures that have for many years been preserved, yet difficult to access, in the archives of the local studies collection.

This exciting development follows the 2016 release of the digitised newspapers from the region which are also searchable through the Local Studies area of the website/catalogue.

For more detail visit the library website.