My blog is very much a work in progress and I hope to learn and improve as I go.
I have chosen Mechanics Institute Libraries as my research topic. I plan to trace the Mechanics Institute Movement from its inception in the UK. I am interested to learn about the philosophy behind the movement and trace its spread into the colonies, in particular through Victoria from 1850 onwards.
I am hoping to discover who the Institute libraries served, how widespread were they at their peak and when and why they began to decline. Looking at the libraries currently operating in Victoria, I would like to ascertain how many remain today and if there is a difference in how they serve the community. I would like to conclude my research by establishing how relevant they are today and how viable their future is.
My research is not exactly advanced at this stage, however I have the found the website of the Mechanics Institute of Victoria a good place to start.
Mechanics Institutes of Victoria, viewed 12 August 2010 <www.home.vicnet.net.au>
It offered a brief history of the movement and some interesting statistics on the number of Libraries at their peak and how many have survived.
They also had a page of recommended reading and I have tracked down a copy of A Social History of the Mechanics' Institutes of Victoria by Baragwanath. Swinburne didn't hold a copy so I looked it up on Libraries Australia and located a copy at the Prahran Mechanics' Institute. I joined the library online and plan to visit it in the coming week and see what else they might hold that will assist my research.
I will report on my visit in my next Blog...