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Stanley Athenaeum & Public Room

Main Street Stanley Phone: 0458 606 922 or 0357 286 702

Following the rush for gold at the Nine Mile a Public Room was built by public subscription in 1856 and opened in 1857 at the height of the gold rush at the Nine Mile (now known as Stanley). A meeting at the Public Room in 1863 elected a committee of ten men to establish a library and a librarian was appointed. This earlier wooden building was destroyed by fire in the late 1860's and the present brick building replaced it on the same site and was opened 1874. It is believed much of the book collection was salvaged from this fire. In 1891 an additional building was added to the rear of the Main Room, this is the building as it exists today.

From 1863 until the 1970’s the Stanley Athenaeum was a lending library and now houses a collection of historic books, the Geoff Craig Local History collection and community archives that are available for reading and research. The Friends of the Athenaeum hold regular temporary exhibitions informed by the collection the Athenaeum continues to have a vital role as the centre of many Stanley community events. It is a small venue and has been a regular meeting place for community groups over the years, including the the Country Women's Association, Stanley New Year's Day Committee, Red Cross and CFA. Currently it is used regularly by Stanley Recreation Reserve Committee, Stanley Cemetery Trust , Stanley LandCare, Stanley Artists and the Stanley Hall and Athenaeum Committee. It has always been a meeting place for small social functions, fundraising events, exhibitions and public meetings.

Our Collection

Book Collection

Over 3,000 volumes of fiction (adult and children's) and nonfiction published between 1820 and 1970, including reference, biography, government, history, philosophy, poetry, politics, science and natural history and travel.

The collection includes:

Nineteenth century books published in Australia by local authors such as William Guilfoyle, Medicus and the Shroff and Bishop James Moorhouse (1826-1915). Science books published in the 1800s including: Charles Darwin 'On the Origin of Species' (1861) and 'Expression of Emotions in Man' (1872), Huxley's essays (1863), Alexander von Humboldt 'Cosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe' I-VI (1849 -1871) and other works.

A representative collection of world and Australian fiction from the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century’s, including runs of titles by Australian authors including: Ada Cambridge ((1844-1926), seven volumes from 1892 -1901, Ethel Turner (1872-1958), Alan Marshall (1902-1984). Hon Professor Wallace Kirsop says 'copies of three decker novels of the same decades are very likely unique now in this country and consequently of great interest to students of the Victorian Age and of its literature'.

Geoff Craig Local History Collection

Stanley history and other local histories of the area written and published by local historian Geoff Craig (about 25 volumes) most of these are now out of print and Stanley Athenaeum holds copyright for many of these books. Also a collection of local, institution and thematic histories, many of these are now out of print.

Stanley Athenaeum Collection

Minute books, Athenaeum book stamps, clock, backgammon set, euchre objects (tickets, ticket punches).

Furniture and Fittings

A geological collection from the local area and other places.

Illuminated addresses and honour boards - Independent Order of Rechabites, the Ancient Order of Foresters, and Hurdle Flat School

Pictures – John Monash, Queen Victoria, Lord's Prayer, Great War 1914-18 Genealogical Record, Stanley and District cups, shields and trophies - football, choral, table tennis, cricket

Photographs of town and district, people, buildings, school, sporting groups other local groups

Geoff Craig Local History Collection

Stanley history and other local histories of the area written and published by local historian Geoff Craig (about 25 volumes) most of these are now out of print and Stanley Athenaeum holds copyright for many of these books. Also a collection of local, institution and thematic histories, many of these are now out of print.

Community Archives

Records of Stanley Athenaeum and other local organisations including minute books, financial records and documents for the Athenaeum and Hall committees, Country Women's Association, Red Cross, Stanley New Years Day Sports, Recreation Reserve, Back to Stanley committee and Northeast Fruitgrowers

Significance
Stanley’s Athenaeum is highly significant for a number of reasons. As a result of the integrity and the intactness of the collection, the library provides an opportunity to see how an athenaeum looked and operated for nearly 150 years while also revealing the evolving community it continually served. The rareness of some of the books further highlights its significance and importance not only within Stanley and its surrounding towns, but also throughout Victoria. Due to the large subject matter the library covers, especially pertaining to local history, its interpretive potential is huge and will not only be stemmed by decisions made governing its use and function but also by the imagination and energy of the committee overseeing it.

Laura Donati, Significance Assessment Report 2010

Subcollections
Historic book collection

Fiction and non fiction 19th century to 1970's

Stanley’s Athenaeum is highly significant for a number of reasons. As a result of the integrity and the intactness of the collection, the library provides an opportunity to see how an athenaeum looked and operated for nearly 150 years while also revealing the evolving community it continually served. Such an opportunity is now rare as so few athenaeums in their original form remain in Victoria. The rareness of some of the books further highlights its significance and importance not only within Stanley and its surrounding towns, but also throughout Victoria. Due to the large subject matter the library covers, especially pertaining to local history, its interpretive potential is huge and will not only be stemmed by decisions made governing its use and function but also by the imagination and energy of the committee overseeing it.

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