Conservation blog – news from the lab

Earlier this year, Sabine Cotte came to work in the Libraries Tasmania conservation lab on a very special project.

The Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts has a beautiful late nineteenth century English painted leather screen which has been on display in the Bedroom Museum Bay.

A few years ago, we noticed that there was old damage that was possibly getting worse, so we removed the screen from display and planned conservation treatment, using Allport conservation bequest funds.

Sabine Cotte is a painting conservator with extensive experience in France, working for UNESCO on the conservation of Himalayan paintings. She also has a PhD from the University of Melbourne.

Sabine came to Hobart to work on the screen for six days and, in that time, partly dismantled the screen from its wooden frame to access the torn panels and repaired and retouched the damaged areas. (A summary of the treatment follows.)

Painted folding screen before treatment.

Sabine carefully examined the screen, noting the nature of the materials and the condition, which included tight tension of the leather causing tearing, a thick varnish layer adding to a lack of flexibility and corroded tacks holding the leather edging and hinges.

Facing applied to tear before treatment.

The treatment involved facing the tears on the front during treatment to protect the surface, removal of the upholstery tacks, then gentle, partial lifting of the leather from the frame to allow repair.

The tears were humidified and pressed, then small strips of Reemay and Plextol B500 adhesive supported the tear, followed by Bondina and Beva 371 adhesive film to line the tears.

The leather panels were remounted on the frame with new brass upholstery tacks in a way that reduced the tension on the panels.

Removing the protective facing.

Finally, the surface was cleaned with deionised water, the tears were infilled and in-painted followed with a light protective retouching varnish.

The restored screen in the Bedroom Museum Bay.

There will be a second stage to the treatment of the screen where the yellowed varnish will be removed.  For this we will need to send the screen to Melbourne in future.

Make, learn, and play at the library! Summer school holidays at Libraries Tasmania

Summer has arrived and we can hopefully look forward to long hours of sunshine and fun.

There are plenty of great activities at Libraries Tasmania for your children to enjoy during the break. Libraries Tasmania’s summer school holiday program is free and open to all children at their local library. Find activities at your local library on Eventbrite.

If you’re in southern Tasmania, the Southern Libraries School Holiday program will be available mid-December. Keep an eye on statewide activities for kids on Eventbrite. Please make sure to book, as demand is high.  

Keep the kids curious!

Did you know your children can have their own library membership? Through their membership they will have access to Story Box LibraryeBooks and eAudiobooks as well as great homework resources like the Britannica Library.

Visit your local library and sign them up today.

Wondering how to keep your children reading during the holidays?

All Tasmanian Government school students can now borrow a wide range of eBooks for free through the Sora app.

Students can access eBooks, magazines, and graphic novels using the Sora app on their device. Items are specially selected and age appropriate for students from Prep to Year 12. Library membership is not required.

If you need help getting started, speak to your child’s teacher or school library staff member.

Download the Sora app and visit our website for more information.

Not at a government school?

If your child goes to an independent or catholic school your child can access thousands of items in our eLibrary via the Libby App by using their Libraries Tasmania membership.

Go to eLibrary books and audiobooks to navigate to the Libby App, where you can sign up today.

Not a member yet? Join here.

Kilometres of magnetic tape reveal the richness of Tasmania’s history

Over 5 000 collection items in the Tasmanian Archives are being digitised by a small team of archivists and digital services officers at Libraries Tasmania in a large project coordinated by Karin Haveman, Manager for Government Archives and Preservation.

The team, alongside external contractors, are tracking to complete the project well before a 2025 deadline – with the aim of digitally preserving all magnetic media material for future generations, and for most content to be accessible on the Libraries Tasmania catalogue and Libraries Tasmania YouTube channel from 2023.

So why the hurry?

In 2015, the National Film and Sound Archives (NFSA) published a paper (PDF here) outlining three key reasons why magnetic tape produced in the twentieth century is at risk. These are tape degradation, technical obsolescence, and loss of human expertise.   

What are magnetic tape formats?

Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic recording, made of a thin, magnetisable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic film. It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on magnetic wire recording. They can include VHS, Betacam, U-matic, PC floppy disks, CDs or audio cassettes.

Libraries Tasmania received funding from the Australia Government to start the Preservation and Digitisation project in 2020 with the aim of digitising the entire magnetic media collection at the Tasmanian Archives by 2025 at the very latest.

Thousands of items are now digitised and will be searchable on the Libraries Tasmania catalogue from 2023 onwards.

The significance of having online access to the Tasmanian Archives film and audio files can’t be underestimated – making these items discoverable online to anyone around the world is essential for the preservation of Tasmanian heritage and history. 

“Apart from the National Archives of Australia (NAA) and the NFSA, Libraries Tasmania is one of the libraries in Australia that has a larger audio-visual collection,” said Karin Haveman.

“Many libraries and archives would donate audio-visual collections to the NAA or the NFSA, a state government or national organisation. Libraries Tasmania is part of the state government, and so our collection is quite large. The Tasmanian Archives has kept all of the audio-visual collection (including original footage of the thylacine and Royal visits to Tasmania).

“The film archives bring a lot of richness to the Tasmanian people on how it was, and how things go … especially a landmark like Cadburys for Tasmania… [there was a film] showing the whole process of how the cocoa comes to us from the plantations in Gold Coast of North Africa, now Ghana, at the time when the exhibition ‘By Mountain and Sea: 100 Years of Cadbury’s at Claremont was showing in the State Library of Tasmania Reading Room. We [also] discovered a beautiful Lake Pedder film taken prior to the flooding that nobody had ever seen before … that footage is just beautiful.”

The digitisation process involved viewing and converting the material to digital format and storing the files in Preservica, a preservation files software application. The team also performed critical conservation work on the physical objects themselves, unpacking the films and audio reels, rehousing and cleaning them, before shelving carefully in the new Geilston Bay Repository housing the Tasmanian Archives.

You can look forward to exploring unseen footage when it is made available in early 2023 through the Libraries Tasmania catalogue, YouTube and other social media platforms. All Tasmanian Archives digitised material will be available to the public by request, with a small amount limited by copyright and other considerations.

Do you have magnetic tapes at home?

Magnetic-based tape in general has a life span of 10 to 20 years but can last much longer if stored in the right conditions.

If you have tapes produced in the twentieth century, consider asking a local vendor to digitise them.

Image credit: photo of Tasmanian Archives – photographer: Miu Lee

What’s on at Libraries Tasmania in November

Do you love the feeling of walking into an art gallery, and being surrounded by colours and textures you’ve never seen up close before?

Take the chance this spring to explore the exciting exhibitions and events happening at the library.

Our latest exhibition, Skying: Cloudscapes in Tasmanian Art opens at the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts on 11 November 2022. Tasmanian artist Tracey Cockburn explores the unique and ephemeral qualities of light and clouds in Tasmanian painting, through contemporary print techniques.

Please note that the Allport will be closed for exhibition preparation on 31 October and 1 November, and again on 7 and 8 November.

Join in as we open our doors for Open House Hobart at the State Library and Archives building. Bookings are essential.

Discover the techniques behind researching the history of buildings at If walls could talk: researching the stories and histories of Tasmanian buildings, now on display at the State Library and Archives building.

Big Library Read for November

The next Big Library Read runs from 2 to 16 November. Library members can read the same book at the same time without any holds or waitlists using the Libby app. The featured title is A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger.

This award-winning title draws on traditional Lipan Apache storytelling structure to weave an unforgettable tale of monsters, magic and family.

Awards include Newbery Award Honor, American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor and National Book Award Longlist.

Good to Know Expo at Hobart Library – making the most of what we have

Are you feeling the pinch with the rising cost of living?

Want to know tips, tricks and services in the community that can help you make the most of what you have?

Join us for the Good to Know Expo at Hobart Library on 24 November from 11 am to 2 pm. Find information about renting and housing, sustainability, healthy eating, positive ageing, community services, getting the most from MyGov, the Aurora Plus app, Service Tas and more. It’s easy, just drop in!

Visit the latest community art exhibition at Rosny Library

From Between the Pages is a community art exhibition showing from Monday 7 to Wednesday 30 November. Artists were invited to submit works inspired by books, stories, storytelling, and poetry.

Register for these events and workshops at your local library on Eventbrite:

And for the kids…

For more events or to register visit Eventbrite or contact your local library directly. If you need help with finding a class, program or doing research, ask our friendly staff.

Connect with us

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where we keep you up to date with online book clubs, events, exhibitions, and more.

Behind the scenes with our conservation team

Our highly skilled team of conservation experts always have fascinating projects on the go.

An acquisition of a group of cased images and miniatures by English-Australian artist, photographer and engraver, Thomas Bock (1790–1855), was recently checked, treated and rehoused by the Libraries Tasmania conservation team and is now housed in the Allport collection.

We thought you may like a peek into the delicate work that keeps these treasures in good condition…

Miniature portrait of Isabella Lewis (nee Mackellar)

This item was loose in its frame, had no protection on the back, and the glass cover was dirty.

Conservator Stephanie McDonald carefully removed the locket from the frame by bending the metal tabs with padded tweezers.

She then cleaned the glass with cloth, fabricated a shaped piece of museum board, and a dust cover from black cotton paper (which was sanded and adhered with an archival EVA and starch paste mix). The additional backing meant that the locket was no longer loose.

Reference: FA1346 Miniature portrait of Isabella Lewis (nee Mackellar) in Japanned frame. Location:

Daguerreotype portrait of David Lewis

This item’s embossed leather case was broken at the hinge, so Stephanie McDonald, our conservator, repaired it with Japanese paper inserted under the leather of the spine and adhered with starch paste. The Japanese paper was retouched with watercolour.

photo of portrait box side on

The daguerreotype glass cover was also cleaned, and the package reassembled.

Reference: FA1347 Daguerreotype portrait of David Lewis in an embossed leather case. Location: 

Collection storage

Finally, to house the entire collection safely, conservation officer Gaynor Tollard made small storage boxes with Ethafoam padding for each cased image, and a larger storage box to keep all the items together.

Every week our conservation team are working with some of Tasmania’s most rare and historic items to make sure they are stored safety for future generations.

Adult Learners Week 2022 – connect with learning at your local library

There are so many opportunities to learn at Libraries Tasmania. Learning something new can help you to create connections, keep your brain healthy, and of course, allow you to upskill.

Although learning as an adult can sometimes feel daunting, we’re here to help you along the way.

There is so much on offer at Libraries Tasmania, and what better time than Adult Learners Week 1 to 8 September to explore the options. Visit your local library to pick up a program and keep an eye on Eventbrite for workshops, classes or sessions.

A taster of Adult Learners Week sessions ahead:

If you’re looking for something specific to help you achieve your learning goals, the Lifelong Learning Information Service, available at all libraries across Tasmania, can help you find the learning opportunity you are looking for. You can visit or contact your local library, or call 1800 808 303 to receive help finding information about learning opportunities. 

Join Adult Learners Week events at any of our libraries around Tasmania.

Travelling around Tasmania? Check what’s happening at your destination – visitors are always welcome. If you’re on the move don’t forget our eBooks, eAudiobooks, online newspapers and more for online learning, and research and reference materials – a wealth of knowledge awaits you.

Children’s Book Week Award winners

CBCA have announced the 2022 Book of the Year winning titles! Congratulations to these very talented Australian authors and illustrators.

Want to read the shortlisted and winning titles? Click the links below to browse our catalogue, and use your library card to place a hold today, or visit your local library.

  • Older Readers: Tiger Daughter by Rebecca Lim – book or eBook
  • Younger Readers: A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr – book, audiobook or eBook
  • Early Childhood: Jetty Jumping by Andrea Rowe illustrated by Hannah Sommerville – book and on StoryBox Library read by Angourie Rice
  • The Picture Book of the Year: Iceberg illustrated by Jess Racklyeft and text by Claire Saxby – book, eBook and on StoryBox Library read by Angourie Rice
  • The Eve Pownall Award: Still Alive, Notes from Australia’s Immigration Detention System by Safdar Ahmed – book
  • CBCA Award for New Illustrator: The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name illustrated by Michelle Pereira, written by Sandhya Parappukkaran – book and on StoryBox Library

To view the full list of winners and honourable mentions, visit the CBCA website

What’s happening for Children’s Book Week at Libraries Tasmania?

To see what’s happening at your local library, go to and search ‘Libraries Tasmania’, or simply call your local library.

To watch authors and actors read some of the CBCA Book Week shortlisted titles on Story Box, log in to Story Box using your library card details and choose your title.

Stories After Dark in 2022… Did you go?!

The Stories After Dark event that lit up the State Library and Archives building in Hobart on Saturday 18 June had an amazing vibe, with the doors staying open after dark for a second time after the successful inaugural event in 2021.

Over two thousand people came through the doors to experience the images, displays and performances. The combination of light, sound and film, the warm welcome and encouragement to explore, and the excitement of being backstage at the State Library and Archives building at night drew crowds in to view the digital canvas that the building became.

People from near and far had the opportunity to experience projections, visualisations, and artworks from the rich cultural collections of your State Library of Tasmania and Tasmanian Archives collections, weaving across and around 91 Murray Street, Hobart.

This year Libraries Tasmania collaborated with the City of Hobart’s Youth Arc for Stories After Dark. Curator Yumemi Hiraki and artist mentors Will Nicolson and Sara Wright worked with 19 emerging young artists to create new works in response to the Tasmanian Archives collection.

Dance, music, sculpture, projection, paintings, drawing, photography, animation and live storytelling were all on show for the public to explore and see what interpretations the young Tasmanians formed.  The live visual and performance art by the City of Hobart’s Youth Arc was not to be missed!

View the images and photographs exhibited online via the Stories After Dark Flickr gallery.

What’s on at Libraries Tasmania in July

Midwinter is upon us, and we are getting ready for an exciting and fun-filled program this July.

Learn something new in NAIDOC Week this year

Recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during NAIDOC Week from 3 –10 July 2022.

Discover a wealth of compelling NAIDOC Week posters. Share a book with a friend – follow the links here for NAIDOC week titles from Story Box Library.

Get to know Tasmanian Aboriginal culture with The Orb, a fantastic learning resource, where Tasmanian Aboriginal people are sharing their stories about Country and culture on an interactive website.

Visit Trove for a national collection of images and objects with connections to Aboriginal Australian life and culture, and view the Indigenous documentary stream on Beamafilm to learn about Indigenous peoples’ culture and perspective. 

Read more about NAIDOC week.

Wanting to read a popular eBook without a hold?

Libby’s next Big Library Read runs from Wednesday 13 to Wednesday 27 July. Enjoy a global book club and online discussion with the Big Library Read from the comfort of your couch.

Read the featured title “The girl in his shadow” by Audrey Blake – as an eBook or eAudiobook available with no holds or waitlist from 13 July on the Libraries Tasmania website; or on our lending app or your Libby app.  

It’s Library and Information Week from 25 – 31 July!

Library and Information week is the time to celebrate the important roles library staff play in our local community, work and personal lives.

Celebrate not only our 45 public libraries around the state and the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, but also school libraries and specialist libraries like the Aboriginal Education Services Library supporting teachers and learners in Tasmanian schools.

International Non-Binary People’s Day

14 July is International Non-Binary People’s Day, and it is a day to celebrate and acknowledge the diversity in gender and those who may not fit within the traditional gender binary.

Non-binary is an umbrella term for gender identities that sit within, outside of, across or between the spectrum of the male and female binary.

We will also be celebrating International Non-Binary People’s Day on our Facebook page and in library displays.

State Library and Archives building information screens

Have you noticed the new information screens in our State Library and Archives building in Hobart? We now have digital information screens to make it even easier for you to understand and navigate what is happening in our libraries and archives when you visit.

The last piece of chocolate, anyone?

Snaffle the last of the Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory display “By Mountain and Sea”: 100 Years of Cadbury’s at Claremont, now on at the State Library of Tasmania and Tasmanian Archives Reading Room (Level 2) until 31 July. If you can’t make it, go online to see some incredibly rich images from our collection or read the blog.

Exhibition changeover at the Allport

The Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts will be closed from Monday 27 June until Wednesday 6 July for an exhibition changeover. We will reopen on Thursday 7 July 2022. Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward to sharing the next exhibition, Chilled, with you. 

Register for activities at your public libraries around the state on Eventbrite:

If you need help discovering our resources, contact your local library.

The winter school holidays are just around the corner

The winter solstice has been and gone, so it’s time to rug up and get ready for the school holidays!

Our school holiday program is full of exciting and fresh challenges for those who want to try something new! Keep an eye on Eventbrite for sessions near you and the chance to take part at your local library.

Some of the highlights include:

If you’re in Southern Tasmania, check out the Southern Libraries School Holiday Program.

Don’t forget to register your child’s spot as our activities do book out.