A curator’s abiding passion for books

Paul Brunton. Picture supplied by Paul Brunton.
Paul Brunton

An interview with Paul Brunton, emeritus curator at the State Library of NSW

The State Library of New South Wales is one of those places you just can’t miss.

Maybe it’s the grand sandstone architecture of the Mitchell Library, looming like an immoveable dowager beside the freeway to the eastern suburbs. Or is it the location, between the lush peace of the Botanical Gardens and the tough political arena of state parliament? It’s a large library too, with a glass-fronted contemporary wing on Macquarie Street.

Thousands of children (and more than a few adults) have looked at the Mitchell Library with awe: what is that place, alive with the vistas, whispers and magic of books? It’s the library that all libraries lead to, in New South Wales.

Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney
Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Photograph by Greg O’Beirne, 2006.

So it seems entirely appropriate that the person who grew up to become an emeritus curator at the State Library of New South Wales found his passion for books as a nine-year-old in his local suburban library. Continue reading

An abiding passion for books (part 3)

As one who’s been so close to the many magnificent collections in the State Library, does Paul have a favourite item, that’s stayed a favourite through his career? The 18th-century specialist doesn’t hesitate.

‘It’s the Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks,’ he says. ‘It’s the first account of our nation by a European. Banks wrote it on the voyage in 1768–71, and returned to Britain with it.’

Joseph Banks Esq, 1774. William Dickinson after Sir Joshua Reynolds (National Portrait Gallery, http://www.portrait.gov.au/site/collection.php)
Joseph Banks Esq, 1774 (National Portrait Gallery, Australia)

‘When Flinders set out on his voyage, sponsored by Banks, Banks gave him the journal to use. Continue reading