Thursday, 6 December 2012

Bibliographical Heritage of Religious Institutes

Philip Harvey
One of the Special Projects of the Carmelite Library is the Bibliographical Heritage of Religious Institutes. The project was initiated several years ago by certain far-seeing Carmelites, with profound results for all of those concerned about our literary, spiritual and religious heritage. One of these men is Paul Chandler O.Carm., Librarian of the Carmelite Library for many years. Here in colour are Paul Chandler’s original words of explanation:  

For generations Catholic religious congregations of priests, brothers and nuns have played an important part in the cultural, educational, spiritual and social life of the entire Australian community, in areas as diverse as education, social welfare, health care, and overseas aid. Today many of these congregations are in decline and experiencing changes which, among other consequences, are having a drastic impact on the nation’s bibliographical heritage. Many communities have relocated from large institutions to smaller and more domestic housing, and already many unique and long-established libraries have been lost or irretrievably dispersed. 

Through our project “Bibliographical Heritage of Religious Institutes the Carmelite Library is making an urgent effort to provide a repository for books representing the historic traditions of religious congregations. We are convinced that these are of significance not only for their theological and religious content, but also from many other perspectives of broad interest in the community: for example, the history of education, of women and of children, and the sociology of particular spiritual, cultural, and religious outlooks and customs. 

Clearly the Carmelites wish to create a reference collection and research resource for matters relating to religious congregations and their influence in Australian church and society. While we may call this project a donations drive, it is much more than that, as the Library serves as the research home for this kind of literature. Much of this material is unique, or not available in other university or theological libraries. The Library is saving the literature from loss and giving it a second life.

The Bibliographical Heritage of Religious Institutes is growing into an essential resource for study, a national resource.  With time there will soon be nowhere else that holds this kind of material.

In the past twelve months the Carmelite Library has received substantial collections under the aegis of this project from the Ursuline Sisters (Armidale, NSW), the Loreto Sisters (Toorak, Victoria), and the Blessed Sacrament Fathers (Melbourne, Victoria).  In previous years we have received special collections from the Sisters of Mercy, the Presentation Sisters, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the Brigidine Sisters, the Faithful Companions of Jesus, the Society of the Sacred Mission (Anglican), the Pallottine Fathers, and the Society of Jesus.

We welcome enquiries about this project at the contacts listed across the way to the right on this blogspot.

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