Members might be forgiven for wondering whether Biblionews, the quarterly journal of the BCSA, is still that when both last year and this we have produced double issues. Indeed, the journal currently in production (Issues 367-368: September-December 2010) and expected to be out in early January, will also be a double-header. This will virtually bring us up to date, such that in 2011 we can return to the standard smaller quarterly issue.
Not that I feel members have been underdone in value, for the overall length has been much the same and, it is hoped, the quality has remained up to par.
Since the last AGM there have been two double issues. The September-December 2009 Biblionews was ‗The Two Editors Double Issue‘ which did not appear until well into this year. As well as reporting on the NSW branch AGM for 2009, it contained a comprehensive review of the libraries of School of Arts and Mechanics Institutes by Geoffrey Burkhardt and a reminiscence of Brian Taylor on his brief career as a tram conductor in the 1950s. The article was described by Brian as a ‗tramo-biography . . . [where] I have indulged myself enormously‘. This was quite a departure from his usual more serious articles, but it gave him a chance to share his Tramwayana — the many items from his Tramway collection.
Notwithstanding the assigned title of that double issue, I have to say that Brian did the lion‘s share of the work, though it afforded me useful work experience with the view to assuming the Publications editorship. For the March-June 2010 issue, the roles were somewhat reversed with Brian now as Assistant Publications Editor. Much of this issue was devoted to coverage of the Sydney branch Show and Tell for both 2008 and 2009, which, as always, produced enormous diversity. There was a swag of book reviews from Colin Steele, always most appreciated, and our President Chris Nicholls cut his teeth on a review of member, Ron Ward‘s book, Engineering Extras 101. Chris, in his report, has alluded to the deaths of both Suzanne Mourot and Jennifer Alison, whose obituaries appeared in that issue. Ironically, ‗The Two Editors Double Issue‘ had contained a review by Neil Radford of Jennifer‘s book, Doing something for Australia; George Robertson and the early years of Angus & Robertson, Publishers, 1888-1900. Neil indicated in that review that this was ‗an important contribution to the history of Australian publishing‘.
There was a diversity of matters raised in Notes & Queries including an item from committee member, Michael Hough, who is compiling a long overdue history of the BCSA. As Michael explained, this task was originally undertaken by Eric Russell, who planned to publish the history in 1994 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Society. Unfortunately Eric‘s untimely death ended that endeavour. Michael is keen to hear from anyone who can assist with the Society‘s earlier years. That issue was rounded off with Neil Radford‘s ever-reliable annual Biblionews Index for 2009 covering Issues 361-364.
The issue also covered the launch of Jeff Bidgood‘s Mark Ferson, bookplate artist on 6 March 2010. This is number 7 in the series, Studies in Australian Bibliophily. Jeff had approached Brian Taylor, as the outgoing Editor to do the launch and his speech was reproduced in that journal. This is a finely produced book and a tribute to Mark, ‗who not only holds medical degrees, but also the degree of Master of Art Theory for a thesis on bookplates.‘ Numbered copies signed by the author and artist are still available.
Jeff, who for many years (until, I think, 2004) did the layout for Biblionews, was busy this year compiling the Biblionews and Australian Notes & Queries Index, 1947-2008 for Issues 1-360 on CD. This was done in collaboration with Neil Radford, who was editor. Jeff took on the challenge of combining four indexes compiled over many years by four different people, a task which Neil didn‘t believe was possible. But together they proved it was. This compilation was launched at our September meeting and the launch speeches and Preface to the Index will appear in the forthcoming September-December 2010 issue.
All I‘ll say about the September-December 2010 issue is that I am pleased to report we have three first-rate articles from Victoria, which will comprise over half the double issue. Two articles — on small presses — are from long standing Victorian members, John Arnold and Michael Taffe, and the third is from Rosemary Overell, daughter of Victorian editor Richard Overell. This article is derived from a talk she gave to the Melbourne branch in 2008 on the evolution of her collecting and appreciating children‘s books — A truly delightful read.
I‘d like to pay a special tribute to Brian Taylor who has more than admirably filled the Editor‘s chair from the early 1990s, with the exception of one year when Neil Radford filled in, while Brian was away on Sabbatical. Brian has developed a keen appreciation of the history of the Society and has endeavoured to honour, wherever possible, the array of well-informed and expert writers who have con-tributed to Biblionews over several decades. He has contributed many articles himself and it is hoped further offerings will be forthcoming, now that he is somewhat free of editorial demands.
Brian has most amenable, happy to share his knowledge and pass on his views re matters of style and presentation. I have also appreciated his invaluable proofreading skills. I have already found that much more is involved in this role than I may have initially thought. So I am grateful that Brian has agreed to remain as Assistant Publications Editor.
Brian has asked me to convey his thanks to John Newland for looking after the layout of Biblionews in recent years. I would like to thank Jeff Bidgood – who also used Publisher over the years he handled the layout – for his expert advice on Publisher and for providing the templates. I thank other committee members for their support, especially our President Chris Nicholls and Secretary Mark Ferson for providing address labels for each issue. Finally many thanks to all contributors of articles, reviews and sundry items.