THE views expressed by John Dowson about the JS Battye library staff (Herald, October 19, 2013) were not only acrimonious but seriously misguided.
I have used Battye for research for many years now. The fact is it houses more than one million catalogued WA photographs (and the collection is growing) most of which are shared with the National Library of Australia—Trove electronic database.
The JS Battye library is a major WA asset staffed by very professional, knowledgeable, helpful people very capable of assisting any member of the public to find information, including photographs.
May I suggest Mr Dowson apologise to Battye staff and asks them to show him how to access and use the cataloguing system for photographs so his vacuous, rancorous and unsubstantiated criticisms can be put to rest.
The criticism of staff proffered by Mr Dowson is undeserving if one takes the time to learn how to use cataloguing systems in the Battye that have evolved over many years. The systems are not all perfect; however, I have observed the library is continually improving them as resources become available.
The unjustified ad hominem criticism of Battye staff speaks more about Mr Dowson’s general myopia than it does about the incredibly professional and dedicated staff working diligently to maintain and support the various state library collections, including the state photographic collection. Staff of the state library deserve accolades, not mindless criticism, for the very fine services they provide for all Western Australians and others.
Dr Graham Mahony
Warragoon Cres, Attadale
(PS: In the early 1930s the Mill at South Perth was given to WA as a centenary gift. My grandfather GHW Long unveiled the plaque and JS Battye gave the speech at the dedication ceremony)
Council to blame
I AM not sure of the point of W Trevor Tobin’s letter (Herald, October 19, 2013) when on the one hand he says he finds it hard to believe the CEO of the City of Melville has been given authority to sell assets valued up to $8 million without approval from the elected council and then connects this with the loss of $20 million-plus of ratepayers’ funds in very doubtful investment. The $20m loss was caused by the incompetence of the elected council, which included June Barton, the current mayor and other current councillors.
Hickey St, Ardross
PEOPLE don’t phone you back. It seems to happen more these days: You phone someone and you get an answer from the receptionist or a machine.
I am sorry the person you want to speak to is on the phone. Another favourite is, he is in a meeting, or the person you would like to speak to is out of the office, could you give me your phone number and I will get so and so to call you back.
As soon as you hang up, you can be assured in most cases that will never happen, no matter whether it be a private company, government department, or an individual.
If you give a mobile phone number there is less chance of a call back. It can be annoying as the matter could be important.
Melville Bch Rd, Applecross
Check the hair
I DON’T know how much money Murray Slavin is making, Greg Smith (Herald letters, October 19, 2013)—not a lot, judging from his coiffure—but he IS very busy livening up the West End with an outstanding new building on Cliff Street. So keep an eye on that space, Greg, each time you make the long trek from Bayswater.
Harvest Rd, North Fremantle
Show me the money!
THE Herald (October 19, 2013) reported Mayor Russell Aubrey’s annoyance at Roe 8 being delayed.
Could you point out to Mr Aubrey WA has lost its credit rating, owes millions, and bills will be mounting for state works under way—he obviously doesn’t know.
Perhaps he could tell us where the Roe project’s dollars ($600 million) are to be found.
Helen St, Applecross
Roads victims of political procrastination
STATE Liberal governments have never been enthusiastic abour transport infrastructure.
It was a case of déjà vu when the premier announced Roe 8 would not be built during this term of government.
He is rather optimistic to expect there will be another one.
I recall the Liberals’ procrastination with starting the Fremantle bypass—critical to the identified future road transport needs in the area.
This and otherstalled projects resulted in Labor being elected. The first thing it did was write the bypass out of the metropolitan planning scheme to assist in retaining the seat for a Fremantle politician.
With the Greens and myopic environmentalists gaining succour by Labor affiliation, I expect by delaying Roe 8 we will see the inevitable outcome of political procrastination.
Norton Ridge, Winthrop
GOODNESS me, John Dowson appears to have got hot under the collar (Herald, October 19, 2013).
It’s a great surprise to me that any historian worth their salt would have a derogatory attitude to photographs. As the eminent French historian Marc Bloch wrote in 1943, “the variety of historical evidence is nearly infinite”.
And this includes not only photographs, but objects, buildings, diaries, journals, and a host of documentary evidence, all grist to the historian’s mill, as John would surely know.
The serve at the hard-pressed staff of Battye library seems a bit mean-spirited. Such scorn would be better visited on successive governments who have not provided adequate funding to to the state library. Staff at the library battle to do the best they can with limited resources: To label them all “just bureaucrats” is unjust and untrue. But I would have thought that John knew that.
The best that can be said for this article, is that it promoted the always worthwhile Fremantle Studies Day on October 27 on the front page of the Herald. Maybe that was the point.
Winthrop Professor of History
Foundry Court, North Fremantle