Thank you to our volunteers

Four women standing in a library

Having just celebrated National Volunteer Week in Australia (16-22 May), we wanted to take this opportunity to thank all volunteers and especially to our volunteers, Mary Williams and Sallie Lang working in the MSS Archives at The Wallis Centre in Hobart, Tasmania. Over the past few weeks, Mary and Sallie have been cataloguing hundreds of books in the John Wallis Library with Corrie van den Bosch MSS, while Bernadette Wallis MSS worked alongside them on the MSS Archives.

These books were collected over many years during Fr John’s lifetime. The collection grew and grew and many books find themselves all over the country. We all know his love for books and his generosity in sharing books. In fact, when Fr John found a good book, he would buy another six copies and give them away! The volunteers found double and triple copies of some books still on the shelves!

The collection covers Scripture commentaries, spirituality, theology, church history, including Vatican II, religious life, spiritual biographies, as well as books on his hobbies including general biographies, photography and coffee table books on Australian landscapes. It is such an amazing and interesting library that indicates his eclectic mind and his passion for learning and knowledge.

In John’s letters in the book, Dear Mother Dear Father, you will find many indications of his fascination for books and libraries (see p.408 in the Index of Topics.) In 1938 with a group of young women, he set up a Lending Library at the back of St Columba’s Hall at St Mary’s College in Hobart. In 1941, the Lending Library was transferred to the Commercial Bank Building, Hobart.  The first manager of the Lending Library was Miss Neroli Goodey.

In 1942, Miss Valerie Casey, a Legion of Mary member, was appointed librarian at the Catholic Lending Library. She was the fifth woman to join the Missionary Sisters of Service, Sr Venard. In 1957, the Catholic library and bookshop (and religious correspondence school) moved into 166 Macquarie Street, Hobart. The library section seemed to phase out in the 1960s. In 1970, a fire at the back destroyed part of the building, but the Catholic Bookshop continued for some time at that venue before moving to 162 Macquarie St, Hobart.