Astrid Bovell on August 29th, 2011
By Pam Pryde – Curator, Special Collections
In 2010 Special Collections hosted an exhibition on books that had been banned in Australia. This was a collaborative venture between Specials Collections staff and University of Melbourne academics. Towards the end of the exhibition we also hosted a forum on the subject of “banned books”, which attracted a large audience and brought together an array of passionate speakers who had been – or were still being — touched by this controversial issue.
As planning for the exhibition and forum developed we decided we should collate all the information gathered into a publication, as to our amazement we discovered that no similar publication was available in Australia. We decided to firstly publish a catalogue just for the exhibition, with introductory essays and a select list of books which had been banned in Australia, accompanied by a few images. We planned to follow this up with an expanded publication which included the talks from the forum – and include lots more images.
In the first edition of the catalogue, which had a very tight timeline, we just included those images we were able to get permission for in the time. We then selected the images we wanted to include in the expanded publication, and sent this list off to Astrid in the Copyright Office to check them out for us, which she did efficiently and, happily, largely in our favour. However, we had one particular image one of our contributors insisted absolutely HAD to be included with his essay to support his argument: we had tried to include this image in the first edition of the catalogue, but unfortunately could not come to an agreement with the relevant foundation in time. By the time we gratefully handed the problem over to the Copyright Office we had been trying to negotiate an agreement with the foundation concerned for more than a year and had exchanged many, many emails – we had in fact reached a stalemate. To our amazement, the Copyright Office took the problem on, saw it through to a resolution – permission was finally given – and I must add, within a very acceptable time frame.
I’m now happy to announce that the expanded Banned Books in Australia catalogue is almost, almost, ALMOST available – keep an eye out for it through the University Book Shop’s Custom Book Centre.