Proctor : February 2019
23 PROCTOR | February 2019 Your library Your library – a history with Supreme Court Librarian David Bratchford “The Library shall be open for the use of the Members of the Legal Profession...” – Supreme Court Library Rules, December 1862 The Supreme Court Library Queensland (SCLQ) has a long history of serving the legal community across the state. This history is intertwined with the evolution of the legal culture of Queensland, including our close association with the Queensland Law Society (QLS). Small beginnings Our story began in 1862, shortly after Queensland achieved its own representative government. In that year the library began with a mere 61 volumes at our home in the old Convict Barracks on Queen Street, Brisbane. There, the fledgling collection was housed in the courtrooms to allow easy access by judges and solicitors. One of these original items – a 1641 edition of Sir Francis Bacon’s Cases of Treason – is still part of our rare books collection today. The old Convict Barracks wasn’t the ideal location for the Supreme Court, and the library’s collection was frequently shuffled around the building when space became tight. In 1879 the collection was moved into new premises, a classical Italianate building overlooking the Brisbane River at North Quay. The library’s move stimulated further expansion of the collection, and two years later we published the first catalogue, which listed more than 500 volumes. During the 1880s, the histories of SCLQ and QLS overlapped, when the Society and the library started working together to publish law reports. Fire and a new home Over the next 90 years the library continued to grow in size and scope. But in 1968 disaster struck when the Supreme Court building was irreparably damaged by arson (see Proctor, October 2018). Many of the books in the library’s collection were destroyed, and the building was no longer safe enough to be used. Those books that could be salvaged were housed in the District Court building until 1981, when they were moved into a new permanent library in the purpose-built Law Courts complex on the corner of George and Adelaide Streets. In January 2008, the QLS law library amalgamated with SCLQ, which represented a significant step towards fulfilling the library’s core purpose of providing services to the whole of the legal profession in Queensland – solicitors, barristers and the judiciary. Finally, in 2012, we moved into our beautiful and comfortable current home on the 12th floor of the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Courts of Law, where we are ready to assist with all your legal research needs. Today the library has a dual role, providing both a repository for the preservation of Queensland’s legal heritage and a modern gateway to current legal information for Queenslanders. Our current location, on level 12 of the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Courts of Law. Home of the library from 1879 to 1968. References The Courier (Brisbane), 15 Dec 1862, p2. Catalogue of the Supreme Court of Queensland, Brisbane, Watson and Ferguson, 1881. BH McPherson, The Supreme Court of Queensland, 1859-1960, p47. Supreme Court Library, Annual Report, 2007-8. W.H . Osborne to Secretary, Library Committee, 11 Sept 1880, CRS 334, QSA; Minutes of Supreme Court Library Committee, 7 July 1883. Are you a library member? Join the library for free access to a range of free legal library services. Our collection comprises over 65,000 online legal resources and our 160,000- plus physical collection. As your member library, we provide free legal research and document delivery services (daily limits apply), training and support, and access to our ground- breaking Virtual Legal Library (VLL) (for eligible QLS members). Visit sclqld.org.au/register to apply for your free membership. A 1641 edition of Sir Francis Bacon’s Cases of Treason was among the library’s first 61 volumes.